Released: 2009, Frontiers Records
At this point Primal Fear need no introduction – you either buy into their brand of stay-at-home / traditional / Judas Priest “inspired” metal, or you don’t. After all, we’re 7 albums and 11 years into their career! However, I’d guess that there are a fair few fans that have felt somewhat tested by the band of late. See, even though the band’s first three albums are top flight metal, the Fear seem to be on a cycle of good album, followed by bad album ever since. Case in point being that BLACK SUN: good album. DEVIL’s GROUND: not so good. SEVEN SEALS: great album. NEW RELIGION: bloody awful album. So, if the cycle holds, 16.6 should be a good album, right?
After the pointless intro, the band certainly do their best to prove their “on” again, as “Riding the Eagle” is nothing less than a perfect trademark PF song – fast, galloping metal with a sing along chorus and soaring vocals from Scheepers. So far so good! Fortunately, the rest of 16.6 holds up. The band thankfully reigned themselves in this time and jettisoned some of the misguided experimentation of NEW RELIGION. There are the occasional steps outside the PF norm, such as the mechanistic style of “Soar” (which is otherwise a classic PF song) or the proggy, Dream Theater-esque (!) “5.0 / Torn” which features some of Scheepers’ best vocals on the album. Still, it’s almost all standard Primal Fear, just with a twist.
Elsewhere, all of the standard PF bases are covered, including cheesy ballad (“No Smoke Without Fire”), power metal speedballs (“Under the Radar”, “The Exorcist”), and a couple of surprisingly powerful stompers (title track, “Killbound”). However for me the surprising highlight was the final track – the beautiful & acoustic “Hands of Time”. It’s a great song that has Mat Sinner’s fingerprints all over it.
My description might make this sound like another in a long line of typical Primal Fear albums, but it just sounds like the band is firing on all cylinders this time out. 16.6 just has that extra something that other PF albums lack. So yes, the cycle has held: Primal Fear has followed up a lacklustre album with a great one.