Saturday, September 8, 2012

Primal Fear - Unbreakable

Since the beginning of their career, Primal Fear has always had the elements to make a great power metal band. From having a major player in the German heavy metal scene on bass (Mat Sinner), to making heavy use of harmonized guitars with glorious double bass sections underneath, Primal Fearwas on the right track. In fact, they even have a man who can clone Rob Halford on vocals; after all, if you can’t sound like Bruce Dickinson, why not go for Halford? But somehow their music didn’t quite captivate me all that much. There are great songs here or there, but in general, the albums were too long to sustain such an intense style of songwriting. This may have changed before “Unbreakable” (I’m a bit behind on my Primal Fear history), but it can be said that “Unbreakable” is the first album I've heard of the band’s that is really a classic.

“Unbreakable” starts off like any other Primal Fear album: fast, epic, and with guitars that soar like the eagle that dawns the cover. Luckily, however, the band does add some variety. There are plenty of moments that focus on a more straightforward heavy metal sound, not unlike what bands like HammerFall and Gamma Ray have done in recent years. Raging songs like “Bad Guys Wear Black” and “Blaze of Glory” hearken back to the huge riffs that Judas Priest unleashed on “Painkiller”. The classic Primal Fear sound returns with “And There Was Silence”, which is the absolute highlight of this record. The chorus is a majestic display of Ralf Scheepers’ vocal skills, and the guitar gives a similar magical atmosphere. One of the stranger tracks on “Unbreakable” is the extremely accessible “Metal Nation”. It is not often that a band this heavy would write such a happy track. It almost feels like it should be on a Freedom Call or Power Quest album. That’s not to say it’s bad; in fact, it is one of the more appealing songs, but if you think the term "flower metal" has any meaning, you probably won’t like it. In addition to this poppy track, there are two lighter songs on “Unbreakable”. “Where Angels Die” infuses slow, fantastic melodies with crunchy guitars in the background, while “Born Again” is the only true ballad on the album and once again is an opportunity for Ralf Scheepers to wow everyone with his singing.

Like in the past, Primal Fear has delivered an album of solid heavy metal. This time, however, they have combined crunchier guitars and a better vocal performance with much more inspired songwriting to deliver one of the best albums of the year. If this is any indication of what’s to come, Primal Fearwill be joining Helloween and Gamma Ray as one of the best German power metal bands!

"And There Was Silence"
"Where Angels Die"
"Blaze of Glory"

Rating: 85%

Originally written for Skull Fracturing Metal Zine.

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