Released: 2007, Frontiers Records/Zink Music
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
The time has come for this German musical institution to release their long-awaited new album. Between 2005’s SEVEN SEALS and now, the band released a compilation called METAL IS FOREVER. In addition, they have a new label and guitar player Henny Wolter is back in the game again. The Swedish guitarist Magnus Karlsson also makes a guest-appearance and for the first time in their career the band made a duet between Scheepers and the Epica singer Simone Simons.
Primal Fear’s music is still all about heavy metal with hints of Judas Priest. The band tried something new when they added strings and more keybords and piano to the music. Band leader Mat Sinner took on more of the singing parts and they have also given more space to play around with loops, keyboards and just strings. And believe it or not, this feels like they have taken the band to a higher level. Stefan Liebling and Henny Wolter play most of the guitar parts; Magnus Karlsson contributes lead guitars on two songs; and all of the orchestral arrangements were done by Mat Sinner and Matz Ulmer.
NEW RELIGION contains 13 tracks with the song “Fighting the Darkness” divided into 3 separate parts. As always when it comes to Primal Fear, the material is solid as a rock with no doubt. The songs are catchy and despite the slower tempo in certain songs it’s still really heavy. The album kicks off with the masterpiece “Sign of Fear” that sounds like Primal Fear in their older days. Scheepers is sometimes really high up in his register and the song has huge similarities with Judas Priest. “Face The Emptiness”, “The Curse of Sharon” and “Psycho” are heavy metal with somewhat-slower tempos and you can hear both keyboards and strings soaring over the heavy guitar parts.
In “Everytime it Rains” we have the band’s first duet and it’s an up-tempo ballad with heavy use of strings. Simons and Scheepers’ voices fit really well together. “New Religion”, “Blood on your Hands”, “Too Much Time” and “World on Fire” are also well-played and technical heavy metal songs with brilliant guitar riffs.
The beginning of the band’s grand opus “Fighting the Darkness” is an up-tempo ballad with, again, lots of strings and keyboards with Scheepers not taking on any higher notes at all. In fact, he sings more in his lower register on this album and that suits him fine. The second part of the song comes straight ahead; it’s instrumental and it sounds more or less like the first part. The last part borders symphonic metal before it calms down and turns into more of a ballad. “The Man (that I don’t know)” is another ballad with a lot of acoustic guitars that together with strings pretty much dominate the sound-picture.
Even if it’s interesting that the band dares to try new stuff, I’m not convinced that it’s the best for the band. It feels like the album has too many ballads for my taste and the overuse of keyboards and strings doesn’t make me happy. The production by Mat Sinner feels like it’s too focused on keyboards/piano and strings, but he should get credit for encouraging Scheepers to sing more in his lower register. This album might be Scheepers’ best performance ever.
I’m not convinced of this albums grandness as I was with the last one. True fans are not gonna be disappointed but I had hoped for a little more from Primal Fear to be honest. The tour is about to start and the album is available in a limited edition with two bonus videos of the songs “Sign of Fear” and “Fighting the Darkness”. Killer tracks are “Sign of Fear”, “Face the Emptiness”, “New Religion”, “Blood on Your Hands”, “Too Much Time” and “Psycho”.