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Breaks No Promises - 85%

VirginSteele_Helstar, October 19th, 2012

I freely admit it. I love Dream Evil and Primal Fear and have fully enjoyed their modern and thoroughly produced power metal albums. Where others see cheese, I see charisma. Where they hear generic, I hear genuine. Primal Fear has been tirelessly churning out speedy, gritty power metal since 1997 and have since established themselves among the top echelon of their sub genre.

The band as in the past, continues to thrive on the strength of Ralf Scheepers. Whereas you might get those same guitar treatments from Paragon, Iron Fire, Gamma Ray and Grave Digger to mention a few, you won't get from them the purposeful and powerful dose of Scheepers' fury. The man sings a song and owns it with every bit of his soul. He is Halford from "Defenders Of The Faith", he is Udo from "Balls To The Wall" and he is Biff Byford from "Strong Arm Of The Law". Ralf embodies several (and severe) qualities (and quirks) of many a metal frontman from the gritty and golden '80's before trad metal took a deep dive and all the good bands ran to oblivion. But he also sounds new and modern and relevant. He is not some dour throwback, he is today's vital force schooled in our glorious yesterdays. Most importantly however, he possesses an incredible range and he knows just how to use it.

So what is good about "Unbreakable" to set it apart from the rest of Primal Fear's material? Nothing, really. It is a solid and fantastic record to add to your collection but it is hardly a new dimension into their souls. The riffs are still as sharp as razors, the tone of the solos is classic Primal Fear, the bass is still warm and present and Ralf sounds as mighty as ever. Songs like "Give 'Em Hell" with its brilliant intro riff will be a welcome addition to live sets. It has a man attitude that is easily appealing to mass crowds of open air headbangers. "And There was Silence" is intensely melodic but perfectly grounded in riff oriented speed metal to not stray too far into Finnish PM territory. Ralf basks in choral glory on this one, urging you to sing along because it sounds so damned GOOD! "Strike" takes a thrashier route where the backing vocals are barked instead of crooned. Its militaristic intent gives it an edge that eludes many recent power bands whose aggression can only be classified under file name "pseudo". Most of the other songs won't really sound new to your ears especially if you've been paying attention since 1998. But if its a virgin sojourn into Primal Fear territory, then prepare to be blown (ignore the intended pun).

The epic track "Where Angels Die" is simply amazing. Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt's guitar work bleeds in sheer dynamism, weaving evocative and gentle passages into thick and riffy choruses where Ralf's lyric; "I'm living in the shadows lost in fear/Until I disappear/To the place where angels die" adds a rather despairing mood to this worthy and emotional journey. The keyboards are still present folks, they are utilized masterfully on "Marching Again" which sounds like a leftover from Virgin Steele's "Invictus" and whose dramatic solo should quickly rank as one of Karlsson's best.

Primal Fear are fucking reliable. We can always count on them to deliver quick and scrumptious delights and if that aint enough for you then I suggest you tread elsewhere. Power metal is a vast landscape after all.

Back to the burning city with an eagle's cry. - 85%

hells_unicorn, May 10th, 2012

Primal Fear is something of an affair in transcending the past while, in many respects, also reliving it. It resembles the former in that all the members currently in congress have come to something of varying improvement from their previous endeavors, while it manifests the nature of the latter in how it tends to listen musically. This is an institution as well as a band, and it follows a very rigid orthodoxy that innovates more in how the final production quality comes out rather than what parts are being used in its construction. They are unquestionably German not only in nationality, but also approach, and that even holds true with the Swedish newcomer to the fold Magnus Karlsson, whose previous works have tended to exude a heavy yet simplistic riffing approach in line with what was pioneered by Accept 30 years prior.

This band’s 9th studio album “Unbreakable” boasts a title that is in line with the orthodox speed metal tendencies of the band, and proves to be a bit more conservative of an affair than the last album with Karlsson at the guitar, let alone the stylistic departure that was “New Religion”. All the usual “Painkiller” trappings are on display alongside a somewhat older and slower “Balls To The Wall” tendency on the side, culminating in a mostly fast and Sci-Fi oriented listen with occasional fits of metal worship. Naturally there’s also some sappy balladry that goes with having Karlsson along for the ride and actually writing a fair amount of the material, but while the ballads found on here are just a tiny bit sugary than they’ve tended to be back before 2007, this is a solid fit of fist pounding metal that largely conforms itself to the standard set by the early efforts of this band.

Right from the first blistering speed riff set of “Strike”, which is preceded by an orchestrated instrumental prelude that could be right out of the latest superhero movie, it’s clear that the goal here is a heavier, meatier sound that hasn’t been witnessed from this band since “Devil’s Ground”. Anyone who’s felt the jaw-busting punch heard out of guitar oriented German power metal bands like Iron Savior, Paragon and Grave Digger will definitely find a wide array of bare-bones, riff-heavy treats to enjoy on here. Indeed, “Give Em’ Hell”, “And There Was Silence” and “Marching Again” offer up some prime time glory along the lines of a youthful Judas Priest blasting out “Freewheel Burning” meshed with a slight tendency towards a Helloween sound when hitting that obligatory chorus refrain.

The guitar work is a bit busier than past efforts, likely due to the inclusion of both Karlsson and 80s shred veteran Alex Beyrodt, but even with the more virtuosic solos Ralf Scheepers’ primal wail and gritty shouts dominate the mix. Sometimes he literally gets so dangerously high in register that one might want to lower the volume in spite of the majestic nature of the music just to avoid having the car windows shatter. He shows a fair amount of versatility on the ballad “Born Again” and offers up a crooning voice for the serene verses, despite that the song is a bit dry and formulaic. But the pinnacle of his vocal work, and also the best song of the bunch are found in “Unbreakable Pt. 2”. It’s not the most intricate song on here from a riff standpoint per say, but the chorus just runs rings around the ears while Ralf just unloads the raw emotion like no tomorrow.

The rank and file Primal Fear fan that maybe didn’t take as well to the past 2 albums after Mat Sinner and company left Nuclear Blast will find something much closer to the good old days. It doesn’t quite hit the zenith that was reached on “Nuclear Fire”, and it does come off as a tiny bit ballad-heavy for a speed metal album, but it’s got everything a growing German metal fan boy needs. Close hailing frequencies Mr. Chekhov and prepare to fire photon torpedoes!!!

The metal chains are securely bound - 80%

TrooperOfSteel, April 30th, 2012

It’s always a major event when German power metal band Primal Fear release a new album, the band has steadily risen to fame since forming in 1997 and have never released a bad disc in their history. Surprising too that the latest CD ‘Unbreakable’ has come out so quickly, considering the band only recently wrapped up the world tour for their previous disc ‘16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead)’; also releasing a live CD/DVD of the tour along the way and let’s not forget Ralf Scheeper’s solo disc that was released in February of this year.

‘Unbreakable’ is Primal Fear’s 9th full-length studio release and yet another massive disc of entertaining European power metal like only the German metal commandos can. After the last release, guitarist Henny Wolter (who played on ‘Nuclear Fire’, ‘Black Sun’, ‘New Religion’ and ‘16.6’) has departed the band (again), and was replaced by busy bee Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force, Sinner, Voodoo Circle). A great catch in my opinion, as Beyrodt is an exceptional guitarist and will definitely have a big impact with Primal Fear.

Surely by now, this band can shake off the “Judas Priest clone” label that had been pinned on them for some time. Ok, early on there may have been songs that had some resemblance to Judas Priest, but they were hardly a clone band. But as the years have gone by, Primal Fear have evolved into an excellent power metal band who aren’t afraid to experiment with their sound; with examples of which can be heard in their past four to five releases.

‘Unbreakable’ continues the current trademark sound of Primal Fear, similar to that of previous CDs, ‘16.6’ and ‘New Religion’; however some of the tracks are at a medium pace (for Primal Fear), featuring a much more melodic tone, especially in the vocal delivery from Scheepers. Don’t worry fans, he still sings in his natural style, raspy, slightly aggressive and high into the upper echelons; however there are certain songs where he sings with more melody than usual. Some chorus’ too in a few songs are quite melodic, almost choir like, adding another element to their core sound and structures.

As always Primal Fear break out their “instant classic” traditional old-school style, hard and fast songs that we are used to hearing. Guitarist Magnus Karlsson has now been with the band for 3 years and two albums and it seems by his immaculate axe-handling on this disc, that he has now slotted in nicely and comfortably within the band. There are many awesome riffs, chords, hooks and solos with both his and Beyrodt’s signatures on them that will knock your socks off and get your head banging swiftly. Aside from the typical Primal Fear tracks, we also have a kickass semi-ballad in there as well for good measure, that being the catchy and quite emotional “Born Again”, that contains a killer soulful solo in the middle.

At their speediest and most ferocious, the German metal commandos take no prisoners with excellent tracks such as the pulverising “Strike” (which appears after the intro), the soaring “Conviction”, the pounding “Blaze of Glory” and the sensational “Give ‘Em Hell”. “Strike” is your typical speedy Primal Fear opening track, much like “Angel in Black”, “Final Embrace” and “Sign of Fear”; with thunderous guitar riffs and double bass pummelling and Ralf’s vocals screaming high. “Conviction” is the final track on the album and also one of the best, with a catchy melody and a Sinner inspired chorus; while “Blaze of Glory” contains a head splitting drum/guitar combo at the start, followed by melodic yet harden riffs and sing-a-long chorus that will go off live.

“Give ‘Em Hell” will go down as an instant Primal Fear classic, with an old-school sound and catchy fist pumping chorus; the song could have easily appeared on the 1998 debut. There are a few more tracks on ‘Unbreakable’ that are quite impressive, and they include the scorching melodic metal hymn “Metal Nation”, the atmospheric and epic sounding mid-paced wonder “Where Angels Die”, and the very catchy and energetic “Bad Guys Wear Black”, of which you can see a video for on youtube.com.

Overall, ‘Unbreakable’ is yet another impressive Primal Fear album, right on par with previous releases like ‘16.6’, ‘Seven Seals’, ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Jaws of Death’. With natural progression, the now veterans of the power metal genre have added much maturity into their music and its not all just wham-bam A-B straightforward power metal. I also think the musicians the band has acquired over the past few years have been wise, careful and advantageous decisions. Aside from the two new guitarists, I also speak of talented and underrated drummer, Randy Black. All Primal Fear fans will again love the output the band has produced on this disc, while fans of Euro power metal should have no worries adding this CD to their collection.

Originally written for www.metalcdratings.com and www.themetalforge.com

A very pleasant surprise - 87%

TitaniumNK, March 26th, 2012

The work and legacy of Primal Fear has somehow always eluded me. I've heard some of their songs from the earlier albums and I wasn't impressed. I thought that the singer's voice is unbearable and that they try too hard to be Judas Priest, which is obviously impossible. I had that opinion until I listened to Primal Fear's latest output, ''Unbreakable''.

Being pleasantly surprised is great, and Primal Fear sure as hell pleasantly surprised me with ''Unbreakable''. It seems that they have improved a lot since their early days, as everything that bugged me about this band is gone now. I will explain it now more profoundly...

Earlier in this review I mentioned that Primal Fear's vocalist, Ralf Scheepers was probably the main reason why I disliked the band before, since he was very annoying and so desperatly trying to sound like Rob Halford that it was pathetic. Now, he has a much more subtle and unpretensive approach, and that change is for better, no question about it. Ironically enough, he really sounds dead-on Halford in his mid-range, you could almost mix them. Of course, the Painkiller area is beyond Scheepers's reach, but who the fuck cares? You have one very competent, are more importantly, very motivated vocalist behind the mic, and combined with great songwriting, it's showtime, baby!

The Priest factor is still the key in Fear's music, but now I can notice even some Saxon, Helloween, even Def Leppard (?!) bits as well. Primal Fear sound like a big conglomerate of various brilliant heavy metal artists, and while that's good, because you know you can't make no mistake with them, I'd still like to hear some individual, original aspects. True, originality for the purpose of being original isn't always good, but Primal Fear aren't rookies in metal scene, they have a name, status and experience, so I think it's right time for them to start doing some experiments, even if they don't end up so good. I'd appreciate that very much. One more thing that can be seen as a flaw - the lack of depth. Headbanging, rocking hard, being victorious - that's what's Primal Fear all about, nothing more, nothing less. So if you had problems with ''Painkiller'', than it'll be best for you to skip this album and this band in general.

So there's nothing so innovative or original about these songs, but make no mistake, it doesn't mean that ''Unbreakable'' is a bad album, cause it definitely isn't. No, this is a healthy dose of good ol' heavy/power metal, and if you're willing to have some good time, welcome aboard!

The winning streak pretty much doesn't end from the start to the last two songs, ''Blaze of Glory'' and ''Conviction'', which are honestly mediocre. But the rest is no slouch. What is most interesting to me that most of these songs could be called generic (you've already heard dozens of similar riffs, lyrics etc.), but still, every single one has a certain ''touch'' which makes it extremely memorable. One moment is enough to transcend it from lead to gold. And when it happens, it just feels great.

Now, the highlights. The central part of this album is also the best, with five great songs in a row: ''And There Was Silence'', ''Metal Nation'', ''Where Angels Die'', ''Unbreakable pt. II'' and ''Marching Again''. Of all songs, I'll point out these three - ''Metal Nation'', ''Where Angels Die'' and ''Born Again''. When I saw that there's a song called ''Metal Nation'', I thought: ''That's gotta be the cheesiest and lamest song ever!''. It is as cheesy as any self-proclamed metal anthem, but is it lame? My god, no. It sounds like it came straight out from the 1985 and Saxon's ''Innocence Is No Excuse'' album, it has the same vibe. The chorus is frankly, very poppy, it highly reminds me of Def Leppard's ''Hysteria'', but nonetheless, this song kills and is destined to become Fear's live staple. ''Where Angels Die'' is the album's epic, and while it's not breaking the boundaries of metal's epics (''Rime of the Ancient Mariner'', this isn't), it is just awesome, with great intro, breakdown, main riff, and long, complex solo. How can you ask for more? ''Born Again'' works as the album's ballad, and we finally get some meaningful (even though cheesy), thought-provoking lyrics, about the existence of God and reincarnation. All this is spiced with some nice music, especially is notable the solo.

This album reminds me a lot of Iron Savior's latest ''The Landing'' album. Both of them aren't reinventing the wheel again, but they deliver the goods and are a fine addition to any metalhead's collection. I'll definitely catch up with Primal Fear's past work, and hope it's as good as this album, or even better. ''Unbreakable'' sets the bar of quality for 2012's heavy/power full-length albums, the bar is currently at 87 points and we'll see will it be topped. (Apparently, Pharaoh have released a great album, so I'll check it out ASAP). Highly recommended.

Primal Fear is back. - 85%

Andromeda_Unchained, February 26th, 2012

I hadn't been keeping up with old favorites Primal Fear lately. In fact, since the release of Seven Seals I've pretty much ignored the band. Even in hearing "Bad Guys Wear Black" my hopes were coasting the ground, not to mention the fact that Magnus Karlsson's once godly songwriting skills have been deteriorating as of late (the latest Allen / Lande anyone?).

Still, there was something about Unbreakable that was enticing me. That flicker of light in the darkness that the band could unleash an album of awesome Painkiller-worshipping German speed metal, that almost Black Sun artwork. Sadly this wasn't to be that album, but we're getting close. Unbreakable has the distinction of being the first Primal Fear album since Devil's Ground that I've actually managed to stomach for a full sitting.

I'll bash the bad points out of the way first, the main offender of which is that there are a couple of filler tracks towards the end that aren't really necessary, shave off "Marching Again" with its overlong and pointless intro and the incessant ballad "Born Again" and we have ourselves a fucking album! I also kind of miss the multi-layered Ralph screams from the old days, and some of these songs are really begging from a good old fashioned "Angel in Black" scream. A relatively minor niggle, but it can be the little things that really make an album pop.

Now onto the good points, where do I start? Unbreakable is generally a quality album, and being the band's ninth full-length I really couldn't ask for much more. Fortunately Ralph and the boys pull out all the stops with energetic performances, and the guitar work has to be the best the band have seen since Black Sun. "Bad Guys Wear Black" sounds great in the context of the album, which I found bizarre since I wasn't much impressed with the track prior to hearing the album. Ralph sounds great, and he has some cool lines to sing. "Unbreakable Part II" displays Ralphs talents well, and is the highlight of the album. The track listing is actually really strong here, with ass-kickers such as the Judas Priest magic of "Conviction", the make-you-fall-in-love-with-the-genre-again charm of "And Then There Was Silence" and a successful epic in "Where Angels Die".

I've been listening to this one a lot, and it's definitely set the quality bar for 2012 nicely. This is my power metal album to beat for now, and I wish Primal Fear all the best with Unbreakable. They really need to get their collective backsides over to the UK. Excellent German power metal, with a good dosage of speed, and, as always with Primal Fear, power is the name of the game except this time they're playing to win. Brilliant songwriting and performances set this one off well. Here we have the first essential power metal album of the year

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Classic Primal Fear - 86%

stormruller, February 4th, 2012

Primal Fear has returned with their 9th studio CD and 3 years after the release of "16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You're Dead)" they bring back another good rocking heavy / power metal with fast and strong riffs, if you know this band very well you surely know what I'm talking about. What you can find here is the same sound of Primal Fear's full discography and the amazing vocal lines by Mr. Scheepers.

Throughout the band's career, they've really managed to bring such great anthems with those amazing chorus lines, especially in their first 4 albums, on this new CD you can find more of these "anthem" songs by Primal Fear such as "Bad Guys Wear Black" which the band have chosen as their official videoclip, "And There Was Silence", "Metal Nation", "Unbreakable (Part 2)" with it's amazing chorus "raise your first, walk with me through the fire". Other very nice songs here are
"Give 'Em Hell" and the ballads "Where Angels Die" and "Born Again" which this last one has a very good catchy chorus.

One song that deserves to be mentioned a lot more on this release is the amazing "Marching Again", I find this song to be amazing from the start until the end, it's beginning with a short piano intro and then crashing into very speedy guitar riffs and then Mr. Scheepers vocals with the guitars slowing down a little bit with it's drum battering in the end until the chorus lines which are to be considered one of the best by the band in this release and then leading to another piano entrance to the solo, brilliant song.

This Primal Fear release is for sure one of the best by the band alongisde their first 4 releases, of course their previous ones are good and have some stand-out songs but in "Unbreakable" we can find a lot more Primal Fear "anthem" songs and Mr. Scheepers is once again delivering such great vocals.

Originally written for: http://hhnews.hdfree.com.br

It is what it is, and nothing more - 60%

doomknocker, February 2nd, 2012

Primal Fear is a bit of an oddity for me…on the one hand, as a group they can be worth their weight in tight leather pants as their previous outings have been rather entertaining at best and harmless at worse, but on the other hand, you’d think that for all he attention they’d enjoyed the end results would have more to offer, and I’m afraid that as a result I’ve found my attention lacking when facing their general direction. Try as I might, I ended up enjoying what they had, but didn’t find it all to be as filling as other groups of their ilk champion with the best of them. Still, since we all know that time tempers and erodes even the mightiest of roadblocks, and for all I know, Primal Fear could have what it took to make a truly grand recording.

With that said, let’s find out how they’ve faired with “Unbreakable”…

One thing one can count on with Primal Fear no matter which album or year of existence; their ability to craft tasty, damn-near pretty melodies to augment the central riff work. And with “Unbreakable”, those musical ideas are in full swing. The way everything is played is done so with a slightly unstable energy generated by a group of individuals who aren’t here to fuck around and would rather tell it like it is, bouts of staying power be damned! That in and of itself is rather fine to deal with; in spite of my musical tastes heading towards more majestic and long-reaching acts, I know that this is the kind of thing you’d want to go for if all you want is metal for the sake of metal, if you just want pure guitars, solos, traditional arrangements and raging vocals. And should that be the case, “Unbreakable” will more than satisfy in that regard.

The almighty riff is key to a Primal Fear anthem, and there’s no shortage of them in “Unbreakable”. The no-nonsense performance has that simpler appeal that could very well make them easier to take in and ingest within the more “regular” crowd, and the interplay between the taut and tight rhythm section, the more flowery leads and solos, and Mr. Scheepers’ stratospheric Halfordisms and wild abandon choirs (ALWAYS during the choruses…ALWAYS) makes the whole affair a grand listen through and through. However, if one is looking for depth and/or wholly enveloping songwriting, one may be pretty disappointed, as there’s really nothing more to the riffs and harmonics than the riffs and harmonics themselves. It’s all well and good for a first few listens, but the flatness of it leaves a bit to be desired, leaving each track as a simple song than a full-on opus. Maybe that’s not the point to the band’s continued existence, and I could just be looking too much into it. After all, sometimes you just wanna rock, and the likes of “Give Em Hell”, “And There Was Silence” and “Where Angels Die” do the rockin’ for ya.

In the end, this new Primal Fear is what it is, and not much more, but there’s nothing really wrong with that. Those looking for a band to jam and have you jam along with them will find plenty to enjoy with this. Those looking for something more to their music will be left a bit hungry and wanting more.

Originally written for "The Offering"
www.offeringwebzine.com