PRIMAL FEAR has become one of my favorite bands to rock to, and Ralf Scheepers is now firmly cemented as one of my favorite vocalists of all time, ever since I discovered them by accident almost three years ago. So it was with bated breath that I anxiously waited for my copy of new album Rulebreaker (out January 22 via Frontiers Music) to find its way into my greasy little hands. As some of you may recall Delivering the Black was far and away my Album of the Year in 2014, so I couldn’t hit PLAY fast enough on this one. Especially since the band has now grown into a six-piece, featuring the triple-guitar attack of Alex Beyrodt, Magnuss Karlson, and Tom Naumann to go with Scheepers, bassist Mat Sinner and newest member Francesco Jovino on drums.
All the classic elements that make PRIMAL FEAR who they are show up in spades: classic metal riffs, vocals that soar, and anthems that make you wanna drink some beers with your metalhead friends, and rock the fuck out. And once again there’s “The Epic”…the song that more often than not is Maestro’s favorite. This time is no exception. “We Walk Without Fear” is damn near perfection for 10:45, and right up there with “One Night In December” for me as far as the big numbers go. As for the power tracks, sink your teeth into “The End Is Near” and “In Metal We Trust”, both of which have choruses that will be rattling around in your brain for hours and hours. “At War With the World” has this tempo and groove that makes you wanna reach for the keys and floor it down the nearest freeway. The verses even had me more amped than the choruses!
Opening the disc is “Angels of Mercy”, the band coming in hot and not giving an inch. Another favorite is “Constant Heart”, Scheepers wailing like a madman on the hook, while the guitar trio goes on a strafing run throughout, blowing holes in everything around them. A change in tempo is in order for “The Sky Is Burning”, and the guitar solo is simply breathtaking. There are some great songs here, along with one or two I wasn’t really sold on. The title track for instance along with “The Devil In Me” just didn’t get me as excited as the rest. “Bullets & Tears” is actually pretty good though, despite its less than stellar title. And closer “Raving Mad” has the band going ballistic one last time, urging on the headbanging frenzy. I’m also pretty sure it will make most listeners hand over their ticket to ride the roller coaster one more time.
All in all Rulebreaker is a very solid album from PRIMAL FEAR. They’ve put together some new fist-raising anthems that should fit seamlessly into their live set and possibly become permanent fixtures there. And while this wasn’t quite the out of the park home run I was hoping for there is still some excellent material to be found. It just took me a couple of spins to get it. Mini-Amps was a big help, though. Running errands the other night we blasted through it twice and he never stopped rocking out, not for one second. The kid’s got taste!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “We Walk Without Fear”, “The End Is Near”, “In Metal We Trust”, “Constant Heart”, “At War With the World”