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What a energy-packed power metal album! - 90%

Lane, September 13th, 2018

I think the title track is the first song I ever heard from German metallers Primal Fear. In late 1990s I was not very avid power metal follower, but by 2000s I had began to check out more and more bands from the genre. Somewhere on the waves of digital streams, a live version of the title track stroke my senses and that was it: I began to garner PF releases. And still follow 'em.

However, 'Nuclear Fire' was not the first album I got from them, but it is an album I've most listened to from the band. When one wants some German power/heavy metal, then PF have been a noteworthy band for over two decades now. Shortly put, Primal Fear's blazing branch is as zappy as a horny rabbit on speed. And I am not referring to speed metal... But yeah, this is pretty much speed metal influenced, too, and at times, thrash! When singer Ralf Scheepers left Gamma Ray and unsuccesfully auditioned for Judas Priest, bass player Mat Sinner of... well, you guessed it, Sinner, formed the band in late 1997.

Mr. Scheepers' vocals are one of the voluminous trademarks of the band; his shrill falsetto, akin to the Metal God of Judas Priest, Rob Halford, and also the other vocalist of that band, Tim "Ripper" Owens, penetrates brain like no tomorrow. Actually, Scheepers and Owens are rather close to each other, as both deliver even those higher notes with power. Whenever the falsetto vocals are happening, not in every track, then it's simultaneously with normal, if high-pitched, singing. He utilizes a vibrato, but not as much as on some latter releases. Mr. Scheepers' voice is easily the most divisive aspect here; easy to be astonished of his mad style, or get totally annoyed of it. He's still not as skilled in using his voice as he is afterwards, and it might get a bit yelping here and there. And the lyrics... Very much clich├ęd-as-heck! War, metal, heartbreak...

Sharp yet heavy guitar riffing and leads played by Stefan Leibing and Henny Wolter (latter being probably best known from Thunderhead) are influenced by 'Painkiller' album (1990) by that band, as well as hefty use of double kick drumming. While having a sort of British vibe to their sonics, their home country's robust metal music legacy is there, too, mainly Accept. The guitar playing is absolutely METAL, with finger-bleeding string work (you can hear them fingers moving on strings, actually) and face-melting ferocity. Mat Sinner's bass guitar is well heard and surely sturdy. As are the drums by Mr. Klaus Sperling. They are like a juggernaut on loose; heavy, going fast and something will be destroyed!

The album rips and screams right from the beginning with three songs in a row. More or less fast, the songs are rather simplistic, compositions-wise. Their choruses are often the catchiest part. Then it's about shredding guitars, pounding bass and drums, high-pitched vocals... 'Now or Never' is a mid-paced stomper, where nuances are more easily spotted. Talking about nuances; there are loads of them happening throughtout the songs, but they are kind of buried under the heat of playing it as metal as possible. From now on, the album more or less take turns with fast and slower songs. It begins to work better this way, as more stylings are introduced on and on. Darkest atmosphere is achieved by slow song, but not a ballad, 'Bleed for Me'. The title track is the most epic cut; the style which I miss a bit here: Epic fucking melodies. Another melodic song follows, titled 'Red Rain', and contains more characteristic tunes, and the band cannot be called carbon-copying others. On the other hand, some USPM stylings are also offered, and I'm also sensing them on the next song, 'Fire on the Horizon'. Well, the band is rather liked in the USA, too... 'Living for the Metal' is a perfect closer, shaking the rest of listener's energy out with cool sing-along. Some editions include absolutely fantastic gem: Semi-acoustic 'Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove' is such a powerful semi-ballad, that it should have been a part of the album. Surely it stands out like a sore thumb, but you know, pain can be oh so sweet... The Japanese version includes Gary Moore cover 'Out in the Fields'.

'Nuclear Fire' is both familiar, in a way, because above all it is very much characteristic. The production job is good, but it could have been more bassy. It is quite clean and definitely airy, but not too polished. Just like the music and performaces. The band certainly were a lethal force back in early 2000s! A gem as a whole, not limping at any point. Do not beware metal eagles, they are here to entertain you! Phew, what a ride!!!

(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)