FEBRUARY 11th, 2014
Review by Anka

If I hadn’t grown up listening to German power metal, I think I would have missed out on some amazing stuff. Primal Fear didn’t exist at the time when I was rocking out to German power tunes but its emergence in the late 90s was definitely one of the best things that reanimated that scene. At this time they continue to carry on the legacy and they do a hell of a good job. 

“Delivering the Black” will feel like a significant presence among this year’s releases. First of all, I am aware of the hype for their previous release “Unbreakable” from 2012, but I am convinced this new one is better. To continue the praise, I think many will find it more interesting and more engaging than the band’s albums from the past decade, although it continues the same stylistic pattern many are familiar with.

I’m pretty content to hear good ol’ and real heavy metal without pretentious formulas, with beautiful hooks and smooth-flowing melodies spawned by the guitars. There’s rough heaviness that brings back 80’s metal memories (think Judas Priest or Accept) but the guitar solos balance out the roughness with brilliant melodic twists. On a layer of relatively steady rhythms, hard rock and power metal combine into a grand force. From the sing-along choruses (“Alive and on Fire”, “King for a Day”) to anthem-style songs (“When Death Comes Knocking”, “Delivering the Black”) and heavy power ballads, it’s all a fool-proof recipe for a good album that will certainly make one of the best releases of the genre this year.

Surely, it’s got its particular fortés. Catchy riffing is not scarce and memorable licks abound. The strong vocal performance stands out - with flawless and intense delivery on all 10 tracks, Ralf Scheepers is a force to be reckoned with. The occasional keyboard only adds in extra melody where needed and constructs haunting intros (as in the epic piece with symphonic elements “One Night in December”). Yes, there could be a few moments of repetitive patterns that might get weary but I don’t feel it’s stalling the course of the album. The majestic feeling, the determination, the fullness of the sound – these are enough to animate the sloth in anyone.

One could argue that Primal Fear relies on a safe formula and there’s nothing new here. I could argue that it’s a “breath” of fresh, gutsy power metal with classic sonorities. To be honest I didn’t see this coming but I am glad it’s here now. The most amazing thing is that this album is delivered to us in the age of the competition for the “most extreme” and most “skilled” kind of metal, where some local trends promote stoner/doom and metalcore as prime genres and where comebacks have to happen to save the day. Primal Fear appear unfazed, as if they have nothing to prove to anyone, staying ‘really’ heavy without appealing to derisory tricks.