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The German metal commandos – live and kickin’ ass - 75%

TrooperOfSteel, July 16th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Frontiers Records

After 13 years and eight studio albums, Primal Fear, the German Metal Commandos have finally released their very first official live CD and second live DVD. The CD is entitled ‘Live in the USA’, and now we (who have not yet heard the power metal group live and in the flesh) finally get to hear how Primal Fear sound live and ultimately how they perform together as one unit on the big stage.

While some bands struggle to perform live, whether it be through a lack of onstage charisma, bad production or whatever the factors may be, there are others who enjoy the live atmosphere and excel when they are performing one-on-one with the diehard audiences. Metallica are great live, so are Nightwish and Edguy (just to name a few); while Goth rock outfit HIM can’t quite seem to transfer the same passion they have in the studio to the stage.

‘Live in the USA’ is a very good indication of how well Primal Fear performs live. Vocalist Ralf Scheepers is his usual flamboyant and larger than life confident self, continuously raising the roof with his high-pitched shrieks. He also handles the audience well to, with about your average amount of song interaction that you get at a live show. Newest member, guitarist Magnus Karlsson is also impressive, playing the older Primal Fear tracks from albums such as 1999’s ‘Jaws of Death’ like he had written the music himself. The rest of the band are also on par with Ralf and Magnus, playing a tight and well rehearsed gig of speed and power from beginning to end.

A comment must be raised, however, about the questionable set-list Primal Fear used for this ‘16.6’ tour. I understand that they are promoting ‘16.6’ and that a decent chunk of songs must be played from that album (and what a grand album it is too). Out of the 14 tracks on the live CD (13 plus the “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” intro), I was quite surprised that Primal Fear performed the ballad “Hands of Time”. Yeah, ok, “Hands of Time” is a decent song, but worthy of playing live I’m not so sure.

Aside from that, there is also zero...zilch number of songs played from both the ‘Black Sun’ album and the ‘Seven Seals’ album; which I found utterly baffling (the DVD version does contain the song “Seven Seals” as part of the set-list however). That is a huge portion of kick ass tracks (“Demons and Angels”, “Mind Machine”, “Revolution” and “Evil Spell”, just off the top of my head) which have been shunned, as both ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Seven Seals’ are two of the best Primal Fear releases in their discography, period. Oh well, I guess you can’t please everyone.

The tracks that are on the live CD, most importantly, are all Primal Fear classics in anyone’s language, including “Nuclear Fire”, “Chainbreaker”, “Final Embrace”, “Angel in Black” and “Metal is Forever”. Also, the two (arguably) best tracks on the latest album gets the live treatment; I speak of “Six Times Dead” and “Killbound”.

‘Live in the USA’, which was recorded in Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles, is a must-have for any avid Primal Fear fan (such as myself) and fans of the vast power metal genre, as you get to hear your favourite pulsating tracks done live and done very well indeed. The track-list maybe missing a few awesome tracks from ‘Black Sun’ and ‘Seven Seals’, but hell, it’s Primal Fear’s first live disc ever and I’m just grateful that they even made one. With that being said, I now plead and beg with the German Metal Commandos to PLEASE bring their ‘16.6’ tour down to Australia.

(Originally written for www.themetalforge.com)