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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