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Perfect compromise between heavy, speed and power - 85%

kluseba, August 26th, 2011

Primal Fear had never really been able to convince me and to attract me more than any other European power metal band. I always thought that they sounded too much like Judas Priest and had not a quite unique style. Well, when I tried out their album New Religion I realized that there are still a lot of influences from Judas Priest and also Kamelot or Gamma Ray but it's less than I thought and I must admit that I was maybe wrong and that the band actually has its own style. I don't know when they exactly established this but they are technically spoken one of the most interesting, diversified and also progressive bands of their guild and this without overlong tracks with guitar solos. They focus on heavier riffs and several diversified tracks with epic passages instead of putting all of their ideas into one song as many bands of their kind happen to do. What really make this band stand out are the vocals of Ralf Scheepers that are surely not mainstream and suitable for any power metal maniac. He varies a lot from smooth and epic passages over heavy and grounded vocals too high screams and reminds me a lot of Tim "Ripper" Owens for that. They don't copy each other and still have their distinctive different qualities but I appreciate their voices a lot as they are both influenced by Rob Halford but quite outstanding apart of that fact.

The opener "Sign Of Fear" that we have here seems to be a great up-tempo Judas Priest hymn that this band simply didn't create anymore since "Painkiller". One could say that Primal Fear have taken the place and heritage of the band because their first eponymous record came out one year after the last interesting Judas Priest record which was the dark "Jugulator".

It's an enjoyable fact that Primal Fear chose a different path though. The opener is the only Judas Priest worship track on the record and that's why it fits and why this band has reached out for its own identity. Already the strong "Face The Emptiness" convinces with gripping and diversified vocals that don't sound like Rob Halford. I must also mention the wonderful title track "New Religion" where Ralf Scheepers reaches his magic moment of the album and does a vocal performance of the grandest kind that gives me goose bumps.

It takes some time before the instrumental section catches up with the amazing performance of the singer and the first impressive parts from that point of view come along with the diversified and epic "Fighting The Darkness" trilogy. It's a great thing that the band decided to divide this epic track into three parts on their release because the songs work also pretty much on their own and especially the first part is an epic heavy metal hymn. When I said that the instrumental section begins to vary more and more, I must point out tracks like the slightly experimental opening of "Psycho" or the wonderful combination of electric guitar solos and acoustic guitar passages in the album closer "The Man (That I Don't Know)".

Let's say that this band sounds way more like a traditional heavy or speed metal band with some epic influences in tracks like "Sign Of Fear", "Fighting The Darkness" or "The Curse Of Sharon". When they decide to sound like a power metal band, they always have a somewhat American feeling in their sound rather than a European one. Even in their smoothest moments, I would rather compare them to Kamelot, especially as both happen to work together with Epica singer Simone Simons. The ballad "Everytime It Rains" is though a rather commercial track for a larger audience and could have been a little radio hit single. It's a catchy song but nevertheless one of the weakest here.

In the end, we have a really strong mixture of traditional heavy metal with some epic power metal influences on this record. This is the perfect band for anybody that thinks European power metal bands such as Edguy or Rhapsody Of Fire sound too cheesy, joyful and epic but who doesn't want to listen to straighter American old school stuff like Metal Church or Iced Earth neither. This album is the perfect compromise between heavy metal, speed metal and power metal and still sounds overall seen like nothing I have heard before. That's why this album is somewhat exciting and powerful and a part of that vary entertaining. Not every track is a killer on here but the quality is so high that this doesn't disturb my final verdict by much. The band finally convinced with this album and I will have a closer look at their discography now.