Primal Fear have been a trademark for high quality German heavy metal, ever since their eponymous debut came out in 1997. Combining the strengths of scene veterans Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray and Tyran’ Pace) and the bass and guitar duo from Sinner – Tom Naumann and Matt Sinner, was already an attention grabber. 23 years and 12 albums later, it is time for Primal Fear to return again, with their thirteenth full length Metal Commando (not the most original of titles, I must note), and once again released by their first label Nuclear Blast (after a 12-year stint with Frontiers Records).
Opener I Am Alive is everything that we expect and love about the guys – really heavy, yet melodic guitars, a chorus to die for, and the unmistakable voice of Mr. Scheepers. Alex Beyrodt and the fantastic workaholic Magnus Karlsson complete the guitar trio and it should be stressed that this is one of the most powerful sounding productions in the band’s career. The mid-tempo hymns like the first single Along Came The Devil, Raise Your Fists and Hear Me Calling expose the talents of another old dog, even if the latest addition to the line-up – drummer Michael Ehré (Gamma Ray, The Unity). Third song Halo is where the album really picks up in pace and energy which is maintained until the seventh song and only ballad I Will Be Gone.
I Am Alive, Halo and Howl Of The Banshee are the album’s best songs, even if it should be said Metal Commando is very consistent in quality. The song order is made up cleverly, never allowing the listener to lose attention or be tired. Consistency – this is where the new album wins over the otherwise excellent predecessor Apocalypse, which had two fantastic songs and a much greater number of unremarkable others. Primal Fear 2020 are classic metal of the highest class – simple as that. The 13-minute-plus closing epic Infinity is a beautiful power-ballad, with one of the best vocals we’ve ever heard from Ralf.
It is a pity we will not be able to witness Primal Fear live soon enough, but with this album, they have made each of their fans happy and their label proud to have them back in the family.