Released: 2001, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Crossfire Reviews For Primal Fear
You really want to believe in a band like Primal Fear. Talented, hard-working, turbo-lunged Ralf Scheepers pays his dues in the metal world for years, then gets passed over for the Judas Priest gig at the last minute. Is he bitter? No. Undaunted, he goes right on out, teams up with Mat Sinner and forms a great band called Primal Fear, and they start churning out one molten slab of furious Priest-worship after another, most recently the snappy and quite engaging Jaws of Death. What’s most admirable about Primal Fear is that somehow their good nature and pure hearts are worn on their sleeves, and come through very visibly on each album. From the first track you know there are no tricks, no posing, no gimmicks. These guys will give you an honest day’s worth of traditional metal, and they’ll do it with a smile. This is what you want to believe each time you get a new release from a band like Primal Fear.
Luckily, Nuclear Fire lives up to that expectation. This is a hard-hitting album of the kind of polished, very Judas Priesty quasi-power metal that you probably expect if you liked their first album and Jaws of Death. This album is constructed very much on a formula, and the songs are reasonably predictable, but they do it well and at every turn you can sense their respect and admiration both for the music they’re playing and for the fans they’re playing to. The first track, “Angel In Black,” gets the gun barrels blazing at full blast early on. The momentum continues pretty much unbroken for most of the album’s duration, presenting heavy and slightly angry guitars, very competent drum lines, and of course vocals that sound like a Teutonic Rob Halford – which is, of course, exactly what Ralf Scheepers is. The album’s only weak point comes fairly early on, with the patently silly track “Back From Hell.” This is the only place where Primal Fear’s usually reliable melody machine seems to break down, serving up some essentially arbitrary guitar work interspersed with needlessly hysterical choruses. Luckily the next track, “Now Or Never,” while beginning much slower, returns this fine German band to top form, and demonstrates that a subtle talent in songwriting and particularly song-arranging and structuring strategy is the secret weapon Primal Fear uses to construct their meaty albums.
The real gem of this album is the title track, “Nuclear Fire.” Blistering with melody, raging with unrestrained speed, and powered by an impressive fusion of guitars and soaring vocals, it is on this track that Primal Fear comes closest to being a true power metal band in the vein of Helloween or Edguy. While they probably never aspired to be as epic as those kind of bands, at the very least Ralf and friends prove that they have that kind of mettle (no pun intended) in them. If Primal Fear’s indefatigable work ethic had not already convinced me to line up for the next album, this track would have.
If you like the Primal Fear sound and know what you’re getting into, Nuclear Fire will be very enjoyable for you, and you may even find it brilliant. It’s certainly a hell of a good listen, and it may make a few converts along the way. Any serious fan of traditional heavy metal will find this an excellent investment.
Primal Fear - Nuclear Fire
Released: 2001, Nuclear Blast | Rating: 4.5/5 | Reviewer: Joe
Reviewing Primal Fear releases is becoming a tradition for me, it seems. I reviewed their self-titled debut (along with Death’s The Sound of Perseverance) for my first contributions to Metal-Rules.com back in December of ‘98. I also reviewed their sophomore effort, Jaws of Death, in September of ‘99. And since Nuclear Fire showed up in my mailbox in time for me give it a good listen before EvilG demanded our monthly offerings, I figured, "Ah, what the hell..."
Anyway, the first thing I noticed about the CD when it arrived was the impressive cover art. Even though the concept is simple (eagles in flight against a mushroom cloud backdrop), there’s something about it that just commands your attention. Whatever it is, it’s quite possibly the best application of the color orange since the ‘69 GTO Judge. The second thing I noticed was Ralf Scheeper’s new look... He’s shaved his head! Even though the bald look suits him, it was kinda strange seeing Ralf without his "afro-mullett". (Unrelated to the music, I know... I was just momentarily surprised.)
Despite having been a very good album, I felt that Jaws of Death was a somewhat uninspired effort and I hoped that this CD would offer a little more than it’s predecessor did. Well, only a minute or so into the first track, it was obvious that Primal Fear had "regained the (nuclear) fire" and I knew that this was to be their best album yet. After a 30 or 40 second intro, "Angel In Black" kicks things into high gear and refuses to let up until the fourth track, "Now or Never", which is a mid-paced rocker similar in feel to "Under Your Spell" (from Jaws of Death). The barrage continues with "Fight the Fire", "Red Rain", "Iron Fist In A Velvet Glove", "Fire On the Horizon", and the Gamma Ray inspired title track. And even though there’s a similarity to Judas Priest’s "Hell Patrol" in the opening riff of "Kiss of Death" and that Ralf does his best Rob Halford impression on "Back From Hell", Primal Fear are still not a Judas Priest clone band! Priest influenced, yes. Priest clones, no. (Sorry... But you people who insist on calling Primal Fear "Priest clones" PISS ME OFF!!! But I digress...)
Another reason why Nuclear Fire fares better than Primal Fear’s previous outings is that the songs are more riff-oriented with fewer sustained chord progressions. I can only assume than new guitarist Henny Wolter (ex-Thunderhead, Sinner, who has replaced Tom Naumann) has had some influence in this area. While Primal Fear always displayed some impressive guitar work, the new Wolter/ Leibing team is sure to improve the potential of their future efforts. Their guitar work combined with the seemingly intensified rhythm section of Klaus Sperling (drums) and Matt Sinner (bass) and Ralf’s adrenalin-fueled vocals gives Nuclear Fire that extra musical "edge" to easily make it one of the best releases of 2001.
And if anyone knows where to get a pair of boots like Ralf is wearing in the group photo inside the CD booklet, please let me know... They are so f*cking cool!!!
Primal Fear - Nuclear Fire
Released: 2001, Nuclear Blast | Rating 5/5 | Reviewer: Jesse Ruth
This is a killer album. It's the kind of album that just begs for a "crossfire" review. I know that everyone is going to review this one. My first impulse was to back off and let the higher ranking generals within the METAL RULES hierarchy handle it. Then my "primal" instinct took control and thank god for it!!! This is an album that resonates with my metal being. This is the kind of metal that opens up the beast within. This is the kind of metal that I live for and fuck if I'm gonna pass on reviewing it!!! Did I mention that this was a killer album?
Many people label Primal Fear as a Judas Priest clone. I cannot deny the fact that there is a similarity. That said, let me assure you that Primal Fear is so much more than that. They tread upon hallowed ground, but they add to the terrain...they do not merely copy it. They are Primal Fear. I need say nothing more.
The album burns from the opening scream of "Angel in Black" to the final scream in "Living for Metal" This is fitting. The album is made up of atomic guitar riffs and manic pummeling, but goddamn if it isn't defined by those chilling screams. Ralf Scheepers does not deserve all the credit for this monumental recording, but he is an undeniable force. His voice is metal to the freaking radioactive core. I cannot express how much energy I receive from just listening to this guy!!! After listening to anything from the Scheepers catalog, I feel like running out and destroying a few hundred skyscrapers (Rampage anyone?).
I love every single track on this album, but I will not be giving you a rundown today. This would only waste your time. Time which would be better spent rushing out to purchase Nuclear Fire!!! Seriously, I¹m only going to talk about "Now or Never." This song is a time machine grounded firmly in the present. It makes me feel the same way I felt listening to metal in the mid eighties and yet this feeling is not a nostalgic one. This is contemporary shit, folks!!! It has that amazing 80's melody, crunch and flow, but has a sense of history as well. This is a song that has traveled from the first "metallic" power chord to the very second that you are reading this. This is metal in the year 2001 and I'm so fucking glad I could cry.