Primal Fear – Delivering the Black
Frontiers Records – 2014
Here I go again. I wrote a review for this awesome album back in January but somehow the review disappeared, so I guess I’ll have to write it again.
The tenth studio album from German heavy metal band Primal Fear is easily their best to date. In fact, I’d call it their Screaming for Vengeance. The reason is that every track clicks on a melodic metal way, meaning it’s hard & heavy but you can sing along with every verse and chorus.
Primal Fear comes out firing “King for a Day.” The lyrics could be an analogy for this band ruling the metal kingdom in 2014. Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt set things up with their wicked riffs and Randy Black’s drums drive the tune. Ralf Scheepers is in the undoubtedly in prime of his career singing with power and range Rob Halford use to have when he was at a similar age.
Guitars rip a path for “Rebel Faction” that Randy Black fills with pounding drums and double bass kicks. Mat Sinner’s bass sustains the bottom end like a pissed off Tyrannosaurs Rex. Scheepers shows again why he’s one of the top-5 singers in the world of metal. His growling, wide-ranging voice reaches heights few within the business can achieve. The guitar leads exchanged by Karlsson & Beyrodt are electrifying.
The mellow beginning of “When Death Comes Knocking” sets you up to be pulverized by the heavy guitars, bass and drums that strike 30 seconds in. The cymbal splash hit that’s coordinated with a voice far back in the mix is perfectly designed for live audience participation. The musical pacing of this tune show masters behind the craft. I give Sinner, Karlsson and Scheepers (who share writing credit for all lyrics) a lot of credit for their brilliant writing because they know how to balance the music with powerful, grace and heavy metal precision. The middle eastern/Indian interlude half-way through is a beautiful segue-way that leads to the tearing guitar solo portion of the song.
“Alive & on Fire” truthfully sounds like Judas Priest at their very best. One of the coolest aspects of this jamming song is Mat Sinner’s voice joining Scheepers together for the chorus parts. Sinner’s distinct pipes highlight the lyrics in a way that boosts them over the top. This is a real pocket-groove tune that should have been played on radios everywhere.
The title track “Delivering the Black” just friggin’ rocks! It comes out like a fired nuclear missile of metal. The guitar riffs are nasty as hell, the drums and bass match the megaton power the guitars provide. Ralf Scheepers rules the tune with powerhouse vocals. The pace of this song is fast, heavy and deadly, which when combined with lyrics made it the perfect song to use for the end credits of the upcoming feature film Devil’s Five. Heavy metal doesn’t get better than this.
Randy Black pounds the ground to travel along “Road to Asylum.” Scheepers as magnificent in the sixth song, revealing the story of how to survive the darkest hour while making the journey to a mental institution. The way the musical lead-break is set up with squealing guitars and never ending drums was music for my metal heart.
“One Night in December” is an epic song with beautiful orchestration and choir voices integrated with Primal Fear’s musical muscle. Randy Black plays another wonderful percussive pattern for the rest of the band to play within. Ralf Scheepers takes advantage by expertly singing about when nobody cared about the warning before the final hour strikes. The slowdown orchestral-acoustic guitar section 5-minutes in shows the mature depth of the band and gives this song considerable contrast. A minute later Karlsson and Beyrodt let their fingers fly around the fret board to represent the warfare talked about in the track. I really like how the band goes out of the track with soft keyboard, orchestra and clanging bell.
Scheepers sings, “We came to rock, we came to roll, there’s no way to escape for you” and that couldn’t be truer while listening to the eighth song “Never Pray for Justice.” This tune actually has the distinct feel of the band Sinner, which is not a coincidence since Matt Sinner is behind this juggernaut band not only playing bass & singing but controlling the knobs as producer.
“Born with a Broken Heart” is a power ballad featuring the guest vocals of Liv Kristine. At this point of the album, after the metal onslaught that precedes it, I’d call it a welcome addition. It also becomes a good chip for the arrangement of songs the band plays live.
The band goes out of the album with the rugged “Inseminoid.” Scheepers really kills it on the last song with his tremendous voice. The song is fast and furious, which works as not only a jump off point but how it follows the mellow tune before it.
When a fan of heavy metal purchases an album, the hope is always to get something that is heavy but retains melody (at least for me). If the lyrics tell stories that match the music, that’s even better. The guitars have to be exceptional, along with bass and drums. Metal is not for the musical squeamish. When a band puts forth their best work and contains all of the above elements, then you have a metal masterpiece.
All of this happens on Delivering The Black and is the reason why it is the Best Album of 2014.