It's not every year that the US are treated to a tour from premier German power metal merchants Primal Fear, but that's exactly what we got this spring when Ralf Scheepers, Mat Sinner, Henny Wolter, Randy Black, and Alex Beyrodt (filling in for Magnus Karlsson) trekked across our nation making stops at various cities for a night of heavy metal mayhem. On May 20th, the group made their New York City stop at The Gramercy Theater, along with openers DesDemon and Havoc. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was on hand and brings this full concert report.
This was actually to be the first time I was going to catch Primal Fear live, so I was really looking forward to this show. I got to the venue just in time to see power metal act DesDemon starting up their set. Led by the high pitched vocals of Mistress Tina, DesDemon plowed through a short set that mixed modern sounds with classic 80's styled heavy metal. Though it's pretty obvious the band are going through some growing pains (their material isn't yet all that memorable), there's a lot of promise in their music, especially the well thought out and quite heavy riffs, the use of atmospherics, and Mistress Tina's commanding vocals. At times her vocals might be a tad too 'commanding', but she certainly has the pipes, and once this band feels more comfortable in their own skin, I can see a bright future for them. The Awakening is their latest EP, and be sure to check it out as I'm sure you'll be hearing more from this outfit in the future.
Havok were up next, and this new addition to the Candlelight Records roster seemed like an odd fit for this gig from the outset. The Colorado act stormed through a 30 minute set of blistering thrash in the tradition of classic Metallica and Slayer, and while they are all good players and their music impressive in spots, you could tell the power metal faithful were more than ready for Primal Fear about three songs into Havok's set. This band is worth checking into though, and hopefully we'll see them on a bill more deserving of their style in the near future. Their new album for Candlight is titled Burn, so be on the lookout for that if you are in the mood for some tasty modern day thrash metal.
By the time Primal Fear hit the stage, the crowd was more than ready to soak up some serious power metal crunch. As they hit the stage for the crushing sounds of "Final Embrace", the front row of fans behind the photo pit barrier was rocking, and all of us media folks were totally getting into this metal anthem while snapping photos. Lead vocalist Ralf Scheepers then led the band into "Killbound", his superior pipes cemented even more by his tall & muscled frame, while the twin guitar team of Henny Wolter & Alex Beyrodt laid down plenty of riff o rama and sizzling solos. By the time the band tore into one of their most popular songs, "Nuclear Fire", it was obvious they were firing on all cylinders.
To celebrate the release of their 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), the band then launched into the title track "Six Times Dead (16.6)", before the menacing riffs of "Angel in Black" continued the lethal assault. The lovely Pamela Moore (Queensryche) came out to join the band on a stirring rendition of "Seven Seals", as well as a stunning version of "Fighting the Darkness", which Ralf and the band dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio, who passed away just a few short days prior to this concert. Everyone in the audience had their horns in the air, and it was a powerful and heartfelt tribute to the fallen legend. Scheepers and Moore worked very well together on these tunes, and let's hope we see a further collaboration in the future. An extended guitar duel between Wolter & Beyrodt showed the talents of these two fine axemen, and the formidable rhythm team of drummer Randy Black and bassist Mat Sinner (who I might add contributed plenty of solid backing vocals throughout) were locked in and super-charged on the rampaging "Riding the Eagle". The regular part of the set closed with the anthem "Metal is Forever", with Scheepers in full Halford-scream mode.
Speaking of Halford, his solo band guitarist Metal Mike Chlasciak came out to jam with Primal Fear during their encore, which happened to be the Judas Priest classic "Metal Gods". This ended a kick ass evening of spectacular and classy heavy metal from a band that hopefully is on the edge of really breaking it here in this country. If you haven't had the opportunity to see Primal Fear before, make sure you do so next time they come around.
Primal Fear Set List
01. Final Embrace
03. Nuclear Fire
04. Six Times Dead (16.6)
05. Angel In Black
06. Seven Seals (w/ Pamela Moore)
07. Sign of Fear
08. Fighting the Darkness (w/ Pamela Moore)
09. Riding The Eagle
10. Running In The Dust
11. Metal Is Forever
12. Metal Gods (w/ Metal Mike Chlasciak)