Jaws of Death
Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast Records
With only a year having passed since the release of their self-titled debut, Primal Fear has charged back to the forefront of the metal scene with their second release, Jaws of Death. Coincidentally, not only is this the second time I’ve had the privilege of reviewing a Primal Fear release for Metal Rules!, but the second review I ever wrote for this website was for Primal Fear’s previous disc. CD #2... Primal Fear review #2... Review #2 for Metal Rules!... 222... Hmmm... I guess that makes me 33.3 % evil! (I’m eeviill!!! EEEEEVVIIIIILLLLL!!! Hahaha...)
Now boasting a two guitar line-up, Primal Fear certainly seem determined to hold on to the accolades bestowed upon them last year after the release of their debut. This was certainly a relief for me, since I didn’t listen to the Real Audio clips available from Jaws of Death until AFTER my copy had been shipped from (INSERT CORPORATION NAME HERE), and what I heard via the web wasn’t exactly pleasing to my ears. "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!", I scolded myself, "Why couldn’t you wait just one more day until the clips were online? Stupid!". A mild feeling of dread followed me for nearly three weeks until the disc arrived.
Then came the Day of Reckoning. That mild feeling of dread began to increase as I pulled the CD from the packaging and walked toward the stereo. With one hand covering my eyes, I placed the disc in the player and pressed play. Track one, "Jaws of Death" is a short keyboard/sound effect intro ala "Primal Fear" from the first disc. "Oh yeah, drag this out, why don’t you?", I thought. The dread was rapidly becoming unbearable. Then I heard the opening riff to "Final Embrace" and the dread slowly began to lift. Then the rest of the band kicked in and it vanished altogether. A rather large smile spread across my face once Ralf Scheepers began what is possibly his most aggressive vocal performance to date. I was in Metal Heaven.
The joyful journey continued with more heavy and melodic riffing, double-bass drumming, harmonized solos, and powerful vocals. Tracks like "Church of Blood", "Play to Kill", and the previously mentioned "Final Embrace" are similar in style to the now classic "Chainbreaker", but unfortunately there are no songs similar to "Silver and Gold" (which is disappointing because I really love that song). "Into the Future" is sort of Dokken-ish, with a pre-solo bridge that sounds VERY much like the verse from Racer X’s "Blowin’ Up the Radio" (copyright infringement suits are being filed as I type). The cover of Rainbow’s "Kill the King" is quite impressive as well, though I do have to ask... What is their fascination with songs that have the word "king" in the title and were written/co-written by Ritchie Blackmore? (*They covered Deep Purple’s "Speedking" on the first CD.) Strange indeed.
With that said, it’s obviously safe to assume that I liked this CD quite a bit, which happened to be a rather pleasant surprise for me since I had gotten the wrong impression from the samples I heard a few weeks prior. (Damn you, Real Audio! Damn you! DAMN YOU!!!) If you’re still debating whether or not to buy this CD, ask yourself this question, "Did I like Primal Fear’s first CD?" If the answer is "Yes", then buy it. You won’t be sorry.