Nuclear Blast's heavy metal quintet from Germany, Primal Fear, are back with their 6th CD. It is due for release in October, 2005 (dates vary by locale). Primal Fear is fronted by possibly one of the very best vocalists in the European Metal scene today, Ralf Scheepers, who once again displays his excellent vocal range, ala Rob Halford. Primal Fear also consists of bassist Mat Sinner, guitarists Stefan Leibing and Tom Naumann, and brand new drummer Randy Black. As I once stated in a prior review of a different band, Primal Fear immediately impressed me with their no nonsense and direct style of power metal. And I am not talking recently, I am referring to the very first song on their very first album Chainbreaker. I immediately saw similarities to Judas Priest. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it is not easy to emulate Priest's style and sound so good in doing it. And bad because there is the risk of being perceived as copying Priest, and not coming up with an original idea of their own.
With that in mind, I was very curious as to the direction Primal Fear would take with their latest release, Seven Seals. Keep in mind that while I personally would rate Primal Fear's prior CD's between 4 and 4 ½ stars each (by SoT's rating standards), most of their previous material sounded pretty similar, with few exceptions. So before giving this CD it's first spin, I was hoping that it would sound at least slightly different in exploring new territory than the other CD's. I was not disappointed. As for a song by song analysis;
Demons and Angels, & Rollercoaster – Once again straightforward and to the point, with no variation from the past. Not to say that that is a bad thing, as these are catchy metal songs, similar to many others before them.
Seven Seals – Ahh, the variation that I was looking for. (actually the first of a few to come). This song features background synthesizers and melodic metal guitar playing. Quite similar to Judas Priest's "A Touch of Evil".
Evil Spell – A very interesting and diverse song indeed, as this song has a one minute melodic intro before giving way to an excellent fast paced metal riff.
The Immortal Ones – Along with "Evil Spell", the very catchy "Immortal Ones", with an equally catchy chorus, are definitely highlights of Seven Seals for me. In addition, I believe that the guitar work is at its peak in these 2 songs.
Diabolus – This is what I was looking for, as this song shows me that Primal Fear has matured as a band, and is shedding its tendancies to sound like Priest. The angelic chorus is a nice contrast with the very low demonic whispers of "Diabolus", complete with more melodic guitar and synthesizer.
All For One – It's funny that some people think that Primal Fear sound too similar to Judas Priest, because in this song, as in "Diabolis", there are some very strong similarities to Iron Maiden, as evidenced by its very "Hallowed Be Thy Name" sound.
Carniwar – A low point of the CD for me, as this song serves no purpose, with its aimless and tedious chorus. Kind of reminds me of "Wheels of Fire" on Judas Priest's Angel of Retribution.
Question of Honour – How about that, a piano intro leading into a slow metal riff, then into a typical catchy metal Primal Fear tune.
In Memory – Probably the closest Primal Fear ever come to a power ballad.
So, to wrap this up, Seven Seals is an excellent effort by Primal Fear, discounting "Cariwar". I would suggest that in the future, the drumwork should be mixed down a bit more, while the guitars may need a little lift in the mix. I especially noticed this while listening to it in my car. But otherwise, excellent power metal as usual from Primal Fear.
1. Demons and Angels
3. Seven Seals
4. Evil Spell
5. The Immortal Ones
7. All For One
9. Question of Honour
10. In Memory