Album Review – Primal Fear / Apocalypse (2018)

The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity, teamwork, aggressiveness, melody and professionalism.

Whenever you feel the urge to bang your head until the end, enjoying some first-class Heavy Metal with a powerful and melodic European twist, you know you can count on German Power Metal masters Primal Fear to provide you the exact amount of electricity, stamina and epicness you’re looking for. Not only all of their albums are well-crafted and extremely entertaining, but the band comprised of frontman Ralf Scheepers, the iconic bassist Mat Sinner, the guitar trio Magnus Karlsson, Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann, and drummer Francesco Jovino are beyond professional and focused on their work, releasing a steady stream of albums through the years, such as their latest (and amazing) full-length installments Delivering the Black, in 2014, and Rulebreaker, in 2016, a very good sign that the band is a million light-years away from calling it quits (for our total delight).

Now in 2018 the Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus titled Apocalypse, the twelfth studio album in their career and another solid statement that Heavy Metal will never die while bands like Primal Fear are out there. The main difference between Apocalypse and some of their previous albums is that, in their new album, the band experimented more with different styles, elements and nuances, making it a fresh listen from the opening track until its breathtaking conclusion. “My personal highlight of recording the album was the fantastic teamwork. Peaceful, focused and really creative,” says Mat Sinner. “No big discussion, no heated arguments. Everybody did a fantastic job and the performances were top notch. This was the key to improve every little detail of the songs, from old school to epic, from modern to symphonic, from fast to slow — you will hear it all on ‘Apocalypse’.” After such spot-on words by Mat, all we need to do to enjoy the music in Apocalypse to the fullest is spreading our metallic wings and flying together with the band. And after listening to Apocalypse, I’m sure you’ll go back to the start and repeat that adventure all over again.

In the intro Apocalypse, a heartbeat amidst epic sounds announces a Heavy Metal thunder is about to strike in New Rise, an old school, thrilling German Power Metal hymn the likes of Gamma Ray and Helloween (which obviously means it kicks fuckin’ ass) where Francesco takes the lead with his crushing beats together with the riffs fired by the band’s trio of fantastic guitarists, building the perfect atmosphere for Ralf to showcase his insanely potent voice. And if that wasn’t already a rip-roaring start to the album, the next tune, titled The Ritual, which in my humble opinion is the best of all songs in Apocalypse, will simply hit you hard straight in the face. This is one of those electrified, pounding tunes closer to their latest albums where the fusion of their neck-breaking riffs and beats with the enraged high-pitched vocals by Ralf sounds more than just amazing, supported by Mat’s always effective backing vocals, followed by the melodic and smooth King of Madness, an almost power ballad that will please fans of the lighter (but more obscure) side of the band, also displaying those traditional Primal Fear lyrics (“A battlefield filled with fools, / a thousand hearts lost in the dark. / Those who win are just tools, / a way for him to let the crazy rule.”).

Blood, Sweat & Fear is another straightforward tune where the band once again shows their interesting passion for wordplays with the word “fear” in their song names, with its rhythmic and vibrant pace being driven by Francesco’s precise drums while Magnus, Alex and Tom sound as slashing as Power Metal can be; followed by the power-ballad Supernova, a song with some good moments but that never really clicks due to the lack of that usual passion and vibe from their old ballads (and I do love pretty much all ballads by Primal Fear, I might say). Fortunately, that uninspired vibe is quickly replaced by a beautiful shredding that morphs into a dark, headbanging tune titled Hail to the Fear, with Mat and his rumbling bass together with Francesco’s beats generating a strong base for Ralf to thrive one more time on vocals, not to mention its exciting rush of classy guitar solos. And in Hounds of Justice we’re treated to the purest form of Primal Fear, which means scorching hot guitar riffs, a thunderous vibe and killer vocals, also presenting elements from some of their old songs from Seven Seals and New Religion as well as their trademark fighting lyrics (“Another warning without any trace / Another kick straight in your face / Another morning you’ll be on the run / Trouble is coming ’till the day is done / Another strike no more peace alive / Another hit nothing humanized / We want the truth broken and abused / The finger on the trigger is no excuse”). Needless to say, this song will sound simply fantastic when played live without any doubt.

Then get ready for more pounding drums and a classic and harmonious work done by the band’s guitar triumvirate in The Beast, delivering pure Heavy Metal from start to finish in a more-than-enjoyable mid-tempo composition, whereas Eye of the Storm presents a Heaven & Hell-inspired start led by the low-tuned, devilish bass by Mat, evolving into a gorgeous power-ballad showcasing crisp guitar lines and a superb performance by Ralf. Furthermore, the band blends several elements from Doom and Symphonic Metal into their core Power Metal in this powerful tune, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, before Cannonball presents Primal Fear’s final blast of pure metal music to crack your neck in half, with highlights to the merciless axes by Tom, Magnus and Alex. Hence, while you headbang to this rousing chant, it’s a very good idea to sing the chorus along with Ralf and the guys to make everything even more engaging. And last but not least, if you buy the special edition of the album you’ll be treated to some amazing bonus songs, with Into the Fire, my favorite of them, beinging forward the cream of the band’s classic Heavy Metal with hints of Hard Rock in four and a half minutes of sheer awesomeness.

If the end of the world is near or not (and Primal Fear already sung about that in their previous albums), no one knows for sure. However, we can rest assured that if the world finally comes to its end in a not-so-distant future, Ralf, Mat & Co. are building a respectful collection of metal anthems perfect for fighting to survive until our last breath with all of their releases, including the excellent Apocalypse (available in different formats and locations HERE), an album that will certainly keep all of the band’s diehard fans happy and the band itself more-than-active in the scene and ready to take your hometown by storm without any warning. And whenever that happens, you know exactly where you should be, raising your horns and saluting one of the most electrifying, hardworking and consistent metal acts of our generation armed with their apocalyptic, unrelenting and awe-inspiring Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: New Rise, The Ritual, Hounds of Justice, Eye of the Storm and Into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: Supernova.

Released in 2018 Frontier Records

Track listing
1. Apocalypse 1:44
2. New Rise 4:13
3. The Ritual 4:05
4. King of Madness 4:25
5. Blood, Sweat & Fear 4:55
6. Supernova 5:21
7. Hail to the Fear 5:05
8. Hounds of Justice 3:51
9. The Beast 3:42
10. Eye of the Storm 8:00
11. Cannonball 4:43

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus tracks
12.Fight Against Evil 4:25
13.Into the Fire 4:33
14.My War Is Over 4:41

Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus track
15.Supernova (Orchestral version) 5:05

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 2 (DVD)
1.King of Madness (video) 4:23
2.The Ritual (video) 4:06
3.Making of “Apocalypse” (Mini-Documentary) 14:41

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Magnus Karlsson – guitars, keyboards
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars
Francesco Jovino – drums

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