Primal Fear – Best of Fear (Frontiers)Wednesday, 15th November 2017
Tremendous appreciation all around for Primal Fear, who, for 20 years now, have done pretty much one thing, but have done it so well that they’re now easily in league with Hammerfall and Stratovarius, two bands they often trailed. That “one thing” is not exactly tried-and-true power metal, but the near-exact representation of Priest-styled metal: screaming vocals, dueling leads and the never-ending barrage of double-bass drums. The fact they’re able to pop out albums on a bi-annual basis is perhaps even more impressive. The Best of Fear, as the title suggests, is a “best-of,” capturing all of their Frontiers Music era, along with four new cuts for good measure.
Two discs here, the first representing the straightforward, balls-out, bald-dome first approach of Primal Fear. The new songs (“Area 16,” “Predator,” “If Looks Could Kill” (this is actually a Heart cover song) and “Thrill of Speed”) get down in normalized fashion, led by Ralf Scheepers and his banshee caterwauling. Scheepers remains one of melodic metal’s best throats, angling in some grit, reaching for the skies and screaming for eagles when he wants. Of the cuts on the first disc, we’ll point to “Strike,” “In Metal We Trust” and “Riding the Eagle” as the picks of the litter. Hard to mess with true-as-can-be metal like this.
Disc two features the more “epic” side of Primal Fear, which contrary to the above, does exist. They’re not specialists in this area, nor is long-form, dramatic metal their forte, but the balladry and pomp of “Every Time it Rains” (featuring a guest vocal spot from Epica’s Simone Simons) and “One Night in December” prove worthy in their own right.
A band who is continually written off by critics, Primal Fear has existed for 20 years because of their dogged determination. A massive heap of credit goes to bassist/founding member Mat Sinner, who had the foresight to snag Scheepers out of career limbo in the mid-90s and turn Primal Fear into one of European metal’s most dependable bands.