Primal Fear - Apocalypse

Primal Fear Apocalypse cover
Primal Fear
Frontiers Music Srl
I was sort of looking at a wiki, just to remind myself how many albums Primal Fear since their inception in 1997 and I was rather surprised to count some 12 studio albums in 21 years. The core duo of Matt Sinner and Ralph Scheepers has been always there and Tom Naumann has been on guitars on and off taking hiatuses from the band that has been relatively steady in the past few years.
Their power metal is far too often “touched” up with various Priest elements, due to no little amount to the fact that Ralph’s voice has that sort of timbre, but also because a lot of those Germans seem to love their Priest, from the guys in Helloween to the guys in Udo, always being interested in what the high-Priests of metal were up to, even during their years in the wilderness.
Apocalypse doesn’t stray much from the canon of PF material, but it seems at least initially to be re-invigorated, by a sip from a chalice of “priestly” goodness… after the eponymous intro, “New Rise” comes in all double bass drumming taking the best aspects of proto Helloween and a bit of blind Guardian and mixes it with a bit of Heavens Gate and a truckload of Priest, with probably some of the guitars being a little more modernist here and there, but not in a way that it will annoy anyone.
“The Ritual” sort of sounds like an amalgam of the above with specifically a lot of elements from the “Ram it Down – Painkiller era”… which make it even better in my books, even if its chorus finishes in a somewhat abrupt way.
I understand up to a point why “King of Madness” was selected as a demonstration piece – it’s more melodic and accessible” but not without being a fair bit more cheesy. Think the cheesiest PF have ever sounded and then insert some cheesy Edguy, not the funny edguy and not the epic stuff, the in-between stuff that either tends to be great or not so great. It’s not total shit, but the repetition of the chorus after the third minute, sort of tired me a bit and must be some indication of how plain the song is…
“Blood Sweat and Fear” has a persistent Scorpionesque riff that also gets the Priest treatment to metallize it. It’s an almost enjoyable song, executed very well and it almost sells because of Scheepers ability, but the chorus is badly cheesy, almost like a second rate Helloween copy, right from the era when Helloween started to falter a bit.
“Supernova” is a pretty ballad, I guess, metallic one at that, not a power ballad, one where there’s constant guitar, a bit of piano and lot of wailing going on. Pretty decent stuff.
Hail to the Fear”… man, titular variety is not the band’s strong suit is it ? It’s a nice power metal song with lots of melody that’s a little unorthodox in it concept, but also has a nice standoff solo going on for it among other things, not so bad then.
“Hounds of Justice” is a tune with an “accept-able” riff and I suppose the usual PF fare. Won’t set the world on fire, didn’t prompt me to skip it either.
“The Beast” feels like some second wave power metal song, done by oh well PF. It bridges the old school with some more contemporary ideas over a so-so chorus, but it has some nice wailing going on courtesy of Mr. Shceepers.
“Eye of the Storm” is a nice song that seems to go on for some eight minutes only to accommodate an almost two minute “pause” past its third minute and picking up into the fifth, to accommodate interesting orchestrations, solos and quiet piano interludes, etc. I think while it had the potential to be maybe the best track on here, lighting it up like an x-mas tree, is a bit of an overkill and maybe a few bits of it could have been left on the cutting floor or used elsewhere or form a new song.
“Cannonball” is a mass of clichés, with a nice solo and a terrible chorus. Nuff said.
“Fight Against All Evil” is mid-tempo, takes a hint from 80s Priest songbook and a bit from the Helloween/Gamma Ray ideology to cook up a hard rocking, but ultimately not terribly original concoction. It’s OK. Barely.
“Into the Fire” still has a bit of the 80s vibe, but you now it also has a strong disco-metal element, think “Blood Red Skies” without the epic verse/choruses and instead a more “commercial 80s hair metal one thrown in there, ie think Dokken. Not terrible, but not exactly something to set us all ablaze. Cliché.
I was afraid that “My War is Over” was gonna have a ton of wailing going on, but thankfully, past the first minute and a solo it gets toned down so much so the whole song ends with acoustics. Nice!
“Supernova” (Orchestral) is probably a bit nicer than its original version, as it’s more ethereal noble (also it must be a japan only bonus).
Overall, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the “Fear” due to them probably spreading their magic a bit too thin, but I do like some of the stuff, some of their contributing musicians have done, as well as select songs. This album is a fairly even keeled attempt and imho, one of the more concentrated efforts in a while by the band – bar the lead single.
Solid enough and if you like your Teutonic Power Metal with some Earl Grey while you’re screaming for vengeance, this will do very nicely thank you. Carry on, now!