Ralf Scheepers - Vocals Mat Sinner - Bass & backing vocals Tom Naumnann - Guitars Alexander Beyrodt - Guitars
Magnus Karlsson - Guitars Francesco Jovino - Drums
Primal Fear take pride in making the songs consistent and complete from start to finish as opposed to randomly sticking a compelling or catchy riff at the front of a song that all of a sudden descends into mediocre territory. The gigantic riffs and epic melodies from guitarists Alexander Beyrodt, Magnus Karlsson and Tom Naumann and the thunder of Mat Sinner and Francesco Jovino are as much at the forefront of a Primal Fear album as Ralf Scheepers' powerful, unique and ageless vocals. He's often compared to Rob Halford, and I will admit, I've compared the two at certain points because it's hard not to.
The album opens slow with the instrumental title track, but the foot pushes forward on the gas as we enter "New Rise" right after, with its melodic, yet fierce thrash attack, only to be followed by "The Ritual", a classic Primal Fear rager with pummeling riffs and a slamming groove. In terms of production, there's some serious punch coming through, and that's all thanks to the teamwork of Mat Sinner and Jacob Hansen. When we arrive at "King Of Madness", things take a slightly more melodic turn. It contains some of the album's best melodic hooks, capable of remaining in your head for a while. I've always loved the combination of strong melodies and heavy riffs. I mean, who doesn't? I can see this track possibly getting played on rock radio.
In all honesty, I feel that "New Rise" should've switched places with "Blood, Sweat & Fear". I'm not saying "New Rise" is a bad track or a poor choice for an opener, I just felt that "Blood, Sweat & Fear" contains more aggressive riffing and vocals, and that would've sounded amazing coming out of the epic soaring melodies of "Apocalypse". I also think that the gut-wrenching high note Scheepers lets out when the intro riff returns after the solo section should've been placed at the start. That's just me though. The track also seems to pay tribute to the band's classic show opener "Final Embrace".
"Eye Of The Storm" is the album's epic. Reaching 8 minutes, it soars all the way through with a massive chorus and grandiose melodies. Combine that with the acoustic section and orchestral touch, and you've got a track that is designed to be played in a stadium. The other ballad-type track we get here is "Supernova", which features one of Scheepers' best vocal performances on the record and a soaring chorus that unites us all. Coming out of "Supernova", we head into "Hail To The Fear", and there's no better way to follow a ballad than by punching the listener in the gut with a two-fisted Judas Priest-style headbanger. The groove in this little ditty is just monstrous and the chorus is super catchy and melodic. This track contains the biggest of the album's heavy hooks. I found myself replaying this track a few times, and I'm sure you will too.
To be honest, I did hear a couple of riffs that sounded recycled. For example, "Hounds Of Justice" and "The Ritual" are not poor tracks by any stretch of the imagination, but the main riffs in both tracks almost mirror each other, plus the riffs sound like they've been taken from some of the band's past songs. This is the only minor flaw to be found on this album, but there are more thrillers than fillers, which is always a good ratio. Apocalypse is Primal Fear's most diversified album to date, taking the listener on a musical journey from beginning to end. Fans of power and traditional metal will find plenty to love here because the record is jam-packed with jumbo riffs, memorable sing-along choruses and victorious melodies. There's plenty more music to come from Primal Fear in the future, and they're one of the very few bands that can stick to a certain sound and always hit the bulls-eye, even if there are a few recycled riffs and some cliche lyrics.
Highs: "Blood, Sweat & Fear", "Supernova", "Hail To The Fear", "Eye Of The Storm"
Lows: A couple of recycled riffs.
Final Rating: 9/10
| || |