REVIEW: PRIMAL FEAR – “Metal Commando”
German heavy metal has always been one of my favorite subgenres. The crunchy riffs and bada*s attitude that comes with it is energizing and simple enough to keep every metalhead company for a long time. Veterans in the scene, Primal Fear have a consolidated career in making sweet, quality heavy/power metal, and ‘Metal Commando’ further solidifies that.
The addition of a brilliant drummer in Michael Ehré (Gamma Ray, The Unity, ex-Metalium) worked wonders and created a monster of a supergroup. When you have a stacked lineup like these dudes, songwriting and instrumental mastery come naturally. Speaking of songwriting, a good balance between force and grace can be found here, thanks to Ehré, Tom Naumann, and Ralf Scheepers’ knack for power and the melodic backgrounds of Alex Beyrodt, Magnus Karlsson and leader Mat Sinner.
Tracks like “I Am Alive”, “Hear Me Calling” and “I Will Be Gone” show the more melodic, catchy side of the band, while strong, no-frills power metal anthems such as “Along Came the Devil” and “My Name Is Fear” pick up the pace and reminisce the older days of Primal Fear, mainly ‘Nuclear Fire’ (2001) and ‘Black Sun’ (2002).
Ralf Scheepers, as always, steals the show with his high-pitched notes and thunderous vocals. From traditional metal moments like in “Raise Your Fists” to “Howl of the Banshee” – where his voice needs to be more soothing and honeyed – the guy proves time and time again why he’s one of the best metal singers of all time.
Since there are always pre-existent parameters to Primal Fears’ sound, it’s nice to see them leave from the comfort zone like in “Afterlife” and “Infinity”. Even if the song’s structures remain the same, the riffs have a more modern feel to it, and “Infinity” is as epic as it comes ranging at 13 minutes, something that the band hadn’t done in a while.
The energy here ranges from laid-back, mid-tempo tunes to something slightly faster, similar to albums like ‘Unbreakable’ (2012) and ‘Delivering the Black’ (2014). Production-wise it’s something we would expect from a Primal Fear album, as Mat Sinner is meticulous and a perfectionist when it comes to sound as good as a record can.
All in all, ‘Metal Commando’ sees Primal Fear trying to touch base with some of its roots, without losing the more modern approach used in most recent albums. It’s another great release from the Teutonic group and, despite being safe throughout its course, definitely has memorable moments. Primal Fear can do no wrong, and here they are proving it once again.