Primal Fear: Rulebreaker review

Coming hot on the heels of 2014’s hugely successful Delivering the Black, German melodic power metal masters Primal Fear are set to drop their newest opus Rulebreaker for Frontiers Records. Armed with new drummer Francesco Sovino the band entered the studio to record their newest masterpiece and with the addition of Tom Naumann the band now has three gifted guitarists contributing to the writing process. Not to mention the considerable song writing talents of bassist Mat Sinner and the breathtaking, fou-octave vocals of Ralf Scheepers. Taking all that into consideration and after 11 studio albums in their nearly 20 year career, it may sound hard to believe or a little cliché, but Rulebreaker may just be the band’s finest hour, which is saying a hell of a lot, considering the band’s extraordinary back catalog. Choice cuts such as opener “Angels of Mercy,” “At War With the World” and “Constant Heart” are instantly recognizable as Primal Fear, which for those not yet familiar is akin to the heavier, more power metal side of Judas Priest. Think Painkiller meets Angel of Retribution. At the same time, tracks like lead single and video “The End Is Near,” “In Metal We Trust” and “Raving Mad” are punctuated by chugging riffs, copious amounts of relentless double kick and Scheepers’ piercing falsetto. While songs like “Bullets & Tears” and title track “Rulebreaker” crackle with the same rhythmic intensity as Balls to the Wall/Metal Heart era Accept. Elsewhere, “We Walk Without Fear” is an epic behemoth in the bold tradition of Primal Fear classics such as “One Night In December” or “Fighting the Darkness.” While “The Devil in Me” is a groove laden slow burner that brings to mind “When the Night Comes” from the Jaws of Death album and had “The Sky is Burning-1” been released in the mid 80’s, it would have been a staple of rock radio and in regular rotation on MTV. Here’s the bottom line. Rulebreaker is another career defining moment for a band who’s time has come. Rating: 9.5 out of 10 -Eric Hunker