By Bob Nalbandian

Black Sun
Nuclear Blast

The eagle has landed...again. Primal Fear plays pure metal - plain and simple. Once deemed as a poor man's Judas Priest, the music of Primal Fear has diversified somewhat over the years, yet they still can't seem to reprieve the sounds and stylings of the original British Steel. Truth is, they do it so damn well, and with such power and conviction, that it seems almost excusable. Primal Fear carries on the tradition of classic German metal pioneered by iron stalwarts such as Accept and Helloween two decades ago.

"Bells" lead into the intro "Countdown to Insanity," which has to be one of the heaviest anthem-intros I've heard since "The Hellion," which then takes the listener on a 57-minute journey of pure, molten metal. Black Sun is actually the band's fifth album, and much like their previous CDs, the songs are extremely well-produced metallic anthems highlighted by searing guitars, bombastic drums and raging Halford-ish vocals courtesy of Ralf Schepers (ex-Gamma Ray). Ralf and bassist Matt Sinner, who also fronts his own band appropriately named Sinner, are the two key players in the band, and their resilience and devotion to the metal cause is clear and present with the release of Black Sun, a semi-conceptual epic portraying the journey of the iconoclastic Eagle that adorns all their CD covers. The music itself is well-executed and the players are by all means superlative, but Ralf's vocals sound a bit ordinary at times and the songs themselves tend to lack a certain "uniqueness" and diversity that defines a "true" classic metal album. Mind you, it's not easy to sound truly unique these days as far as traditional metal music goes. And chances are we may never find the next Rainbow Rising or Stained Class, but it's obvious to me that Primal Fear has yet to find their true sound.

Standout tracks include the title track, "Light Years From Home" (even the plagiarized Blackmore lead is somewhat commendable), "Fear" and the closer "Controlled," perhaps the best, and speediest track off the CD, sounding like Accept, Savatage, and Priest rolled into one. No doubt, a great sounding traditional metal record, but I'd rather listen to the "real" classic metal.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 6 Page 2