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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