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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.