Primal Fear deliver the black at Altar Bar

German power metal legends Primal Fear have been out on the road since early this year in support of their newest masterpiece for Frontiers Records entitled Delivering The Black. They are travelling the world over to bring their metal message to the legions of devoted fans across the globe.

Playing to packed venues throughout the United States, the diehard Primal Fear fans of Pittsburgh were treated to a very rare and intimate club appearance that got everyone up close and personal with the band they have come to love so much. Those who attended that night were also treated to the music of tourmates Arctic Flame as well as Pittsburgh’s own Fatality Risen and The Xander Demos Band.

Pittsburgh’s Fatality Risen got things going and if you are a fan of Ronnie James Dio’s solo material or his time in Black Sabbath or Rainbow, then this is a must see band. Frontman John Wright’s worship of Dio comes through in everything that he does- from his movements, all the way down to his stunning vocal delivery. He even commented before “Burning Away” to say it was written for Dio.

Make no mistake, he is no copycat by any means. Wright definitely has his own thing going and the music they make is a glorious throwback to late 70’s and early 80’s hard rock. The band looked and sounded great and got an excellent response from the crowd. Even though the place was only half full due to their early start time, the band gave their all and played as if it was standing room only.

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Anyone that has had the distinct pleasure of seeing The Xander Demos Band knows exactly what they bring to the table. Their music is a revival of 80’s hair metal with a much heavier edge. Think Skid Row meets Iron Maiden. The band’s fearless lead Xander is a greek guitar God whose ability to shred is unparalleled. Xander’s stage presence is undeniable and vocalist Mario Brescha has a strong command of the crowd and a vocal range that gave Mr. Scheepers cause to up his game that night.

The band sounded amazing and played with technical brilliance and dexterity. They unleashed a blistering 6 song set of tracks like “White Knuckle Driving,” “Under A Darkened Sky” and “Dancing Through Dagger,” to an overwhelming audience response.

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Artic Flame was next and they came blasting out of the gate with a stellar cover of the UFO classic “Lights Out” that not only did the original justice, but would have made Phil Mogg and Pete Way proud. The band rolled on like an out of control steamroller into a high octane set. The band thrashed about the stage like seasoned vets and lead singer Michael Moore never once stood still, fistbumping the diehards in the front row.

Songs like “Steel Angels” and “The Creeper” were eaten up by the rabid fans, but it was their over the top cover of the Iron Maiden classic “Hallowed Be Thy Name” that sent fans into an alcohol-induced frenzy, singing at the top of their collective lungs. Their closing diatribe found Moore down on his knees screaming out “Are you fuckers ready for Primal Fear?”

The answer was a resounding Yes!

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At last, the moment everyone was waiting for had arrived and as drummer Randy Black crawled behind his set, he got the crowd going before the band had played a single note. From the very first note of “Final Embrace” the energy in the air was positively electric and when frontman Ralf Scheepers hit his upper register for the first time, you would have expected every bit of glass in the build to have simultaneously shattered.

Scheepers’ command of the crowd knows no bounds and they hung on his every word and action. He had the crowd clapping along during “Seven Seals” and stopped before “One Night In December” to say, “You guys are awesome. Thank you all for coming.” Its haunting piano setting the mood and garnered a huge crowd reaction.

Watching drummer Randy Black during “Angel In Black” is like watching a man run while sitting down. His speed is legendary and he switches effortlessly between drumming right and left handed. The camera they had set up above his head captured every glorious moment. He’s the human equivalent of a metronome.

“When Death Comes Knocking” was next. It saw Scheepers holding the microphone out into the crowd, so they could sing the lyrics for him and was another clear fan favorite.

From there, they launched into “Chainbreaker” and the epic “Fighting The Darkness.” Its extended jam in the middle allowing bassist Mat Sinner, guitarist Alex Beyrodt, guitarist Tom Naumann and drummer Randy Black to flex their creative and musical muscles and a true highlight of the show.

At its conclusion Scheepers directed the crowd in a sing along, that lasted until he hit a high note that no one could believe or fathom trying to repeat. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a finer voice in any genre of music today.

His lush vocals were surrounded by flawlessly executed musicianship and a near perfect sound mix that improved everyone’s enjoyment of the show exponentially and brought things to a whole new level of greatness, smashing the expectations of what a great rock show could be into oblivion and beyond.

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The out of this world band finally got their proper introductions before temporary show closer “Metal Is Forever,” which saw Scheepers reaching out to touch the hands of the now frenzied fans. Temporary in the sense that the band had barely left the stage when the chants, no make that demands for their triumphant return began.

Those lucky fans that were fortunate enough to have a intimate experience with Germany’s premiere power metal band got the exact same show a crowd at Wacken would have gotten and the same level of excellence the give each and every night.

As they reclaimed the stage, Scheepers paused to say, “You guys have had the best endurance so far. So let me hear your lovely voices and see those hands.” He went on to ask, “Are you ready for a couple more?” He got his answer moments later when he hit the line “Raise your fist” during “Unbreakable Pt. 2” and everyone in attendance did.

Scheepers once again got the crowd going. As did every member of the band at one point throughout the evening and the fans took full advantage of their last time to lose their minds with Germany’s finest. For their effort and enthusiasm the fans were treated to not one, but to more jaw-dropping encores.

It was quite evident by the faces of the patrons as they slowly exited out into the street that they had just been handed their asses by the almighty Primal Fear and would never again see a show that matched what they had just witnessed in size or spectacle.

-Eric Hunker

Exclusive pre-show with Primal Fear: