Written by Alex Stojanovic
Angels Of Mercy
The End Is Near
Bullets & Tears
In Metal We Trust
We Walk Without Fear
At War With The World
The Devil In Me
The Sky Is Burning
Release Date: January 29, 2016
Label: Frontiers Records
Ralf Scheepers - Lead Vocals Alex Beyrodt - Guitars Magnus Karlsson - Guitars & keyboards Tom Naumann - Guitars Mat Sinner - Bass & vocals Francesco Jovino - Drums
After several lineup changes throughout the years, the train kept rolling with constant world tours and new albums coming out every two years or so, and they haven't really shown any changes in sound. Much like Saxon, Accept, Motorhead, Amon Amarth, Overkill and Cannibal Corpse, Primal Fear is another band that is the definition of the word "consistent". The self-titled debut, Jaws Of Death, Nuclear Fire and Black Sun are all classics in the band's discography. The band's eleventh studio album Rulebreaker is another home run in a streak of amazing new efforts from the band, with Delivering The Black, Unbreakable and 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows Your Dead) being some of their best albums.
The band truly knows how to make a memorable metal album with the huge fiery riffs, captivating hooks, memorable melodies and anthemic choruses. These are songs built for arenas. "Angels Of Mercy" starts the album off with a thunderous riff that commands heads to bang, followed immediately by the destructive headbanger "The End Is Near", the album's first official single and music video. "Bullets & Tears", the title track, "At War With The World" and "Raving Mad" are among the best tracks on the album with their hooky verses and choruses, although the main riff to "Bullets & Tears" is in the vein of Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law". There's also some faster moments on the album like "In Metal We Trust" with its melodic speed metal riffing in the vein of Helloween, and "Constant Heart", so if you love your metal fast, then these tracks are for you.
"We Walk Without Fear" is the band's longest song to date, clocking in at close to 11 minutes. It's a track that really shows the versatility of Ralf Scheeper's vocals and it's a musical journey showcasing the many different styles and elements the band have experimented with throughout their career. Scheepers' ability to create amazing vocal melodies with his versatile voice never ceases to amaze. Some of his other best moments on this album include "Angels Of Mercy", "Rulebreaker" and the ballad "The Sky Is Burning". The choir chants heard on certain songs are spine-chilling, giving off a vibe reminiscent of Accept.
Rulebreaker also features some old and new blood. The new blood being drummer Francesco Jovino, formerly of U.D.O., replacing both longtime drummer Randy Black and Aquiles Priester (Black's original replacement). He and Mat Sinner together make a thunderous rhythm section. The old blood is original guitarist Tom Naumann, who is back as a permanent member after serving as a touring guitarist for the past couple of years. This mark's Tom's first album with the band since Seven Seals, and the band's first album to feature a triple-guitar team, and the team of Naumann, Alex Beyrodt and Magnus Karlsson is incredibly solid.
Another strong element is the production. Mat Sinner produced the album and Danish producer Jacob Hansen handled the mix and they did an amazing job at making a really aggressive sounding album with a thick and juicy guitar tone, pounding bass tone and punishing drum tone. The only flaw to be found on the record is that there's certain sections in some songs that sound a bit repetitive. It may get a little difficult to tell them apart. With all that said, Primal Fear have made another immense sounding album and their strongest to date with Rulebreaker.
Highs: "Angels Of Mercy", "Bullets & Tears", "Rulebreaker" and "At War With The World"
Lows: Some sections in certain songs sound a bit repetitive.