So listen, let’s get real for a second, shall we? For me, PRIMAL FEAR reached the top of the Heavy Metal Mountain when they released 2014’s undisputed heavyweight champ of an album with the monster that is Delivering the Black. It is my absolute favorite record from them and quite frankly it is fucking flawless. Since then we’ve gotten two more full-lengths in Rulebreaker and Apocalypse that had their fair share of great moments, but didn’t capture the same feeling, that lightning in a bottle the other one did. Hell, when you go from The Maestro’s Album of the Year and perfect score to an 8.5/10 and an 8/10 respectively, that’s cause for concern. Has one of my favorite bands started a downhill descent? Not. So. Fast…
Brand new disc Metal Commando (July 24, Nuclear Blast Records) takes what the band was doing with Delivering the Black and runs with it, like calling a Heavy Metal halfback sweep into the goddamn endzone for the six! Right away “I Am Alive” reminds you exactly why this group is full of Kings at what they do. Singer Ralf Scheepers once again lays his vocals down with a vengeance, almost daring you to come test him. Meanwhile the guitar triumvirate of Tom Naumann, Alex Beyrodt, and Magnus Karlsson brings a suppressive cover fire for the ages. To be honest I wasn’t sold on “Along Came the Devil” at first listen, or second listen. But that all-important third spin made me appreciate the killer groove and heavy vibe of a killer tune.
“Halo” is 100% power and fury, and this is one of those moments where drummer and newest member Michael Ehré shows us all not only why he is in this band, but also why he’s gonna occupy that throne for the foreseeable future, ya hear me? “Hear Me Calling” is very reminiscent of some killer JUDAS PRIEST, but the band still totally makes it their own. Bassist Mat Sinner institutes a thick tone on this one as well. Hey, you wanna fuck shit up? Then let’s GO with “The Lost & the Forgotten”! The riffs are razor-sharp, and the whole group goes all in. Scheepers sounds especially inspired by this number, and I am all in! “My Name Is Fear” is a hammering from beginning to end, and needs to be played live. Awesome guitar solos abound, too.
Now we come to one of my favorite tracks that PRIMAL FEAR has ever recorded…”I Will Be Gone.” Holy Christ, this song is fucking amazing on every single level. Scheepers gives one of his greatest vocal performances ever, and the acoustic guitar solos flow like so much wine. Then we’re back to breaking faces with “Raise Your Fists”, which I guarantee the masses will do as soon as they get the all-clear to hit some goddamn shows! “Howl of the Banshee” definitely brings the thunder in every way, shape, and form. Plus, the guitar solos are incendiary, and the hook is infectious. Another great song on an album full of them. “Afterlife”…Jeezus H. Christ on a popsicle stick, how awesome is this one? The band brings home a trophy without question.
One of the things I’ve loved most about PRIMAL FEAR is the way they do epics. I love these epics when they’re done right. And well, they do them right. “One Night In December” and “We Walk Without Fear” are proof positive of that. And we can add closer “Infinity” to this group. The guitars really light things up, their solos go to town, the rhythm section is locked in, and of course Ralf Scheepers comes in and just owns his parts. I love this whole album. Metal Commando is the best record I’ve heard from PRIMAL FEAR since Delivering the Black. It’s nice to see them kicking ass and taking names, and this only proves that they have hands down delivered one of 2020’s best albums. On Friday, you better be hitting that “BUY” button!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM