ReviewsPrimal Fear – Code Red (Atomic Fire Records)

Primal Fear – Code Red (Atomic Fire Records)

Back in the late 90’s, classic/traditional metal received a bit of a shot in the arm thanks to the success of Hammerfall and Primal Fear – proving that there could be some newcomers to inject some fire into this well-known template. Still together today for their fourteenth studio album in Code Red, it’s not a question of establishing new ground so much as does the band still have enough creative juice to squeeze out memorable anthems in 2023? Only time will tell the true story, but to these ears most ardent followers of the group should be appeased with the mix of rockers, power anthems, plus the occasional epic effort formula that has been a part of the discography since the Seven Seals record.

The fact that multiple songwriters contribute to the eleven tracks allows a diverse range of material to unfold over the course of the album. Outer galaxy keyboards along with a crunchy wall of rhythm guitars beyond the patented Ralf Scheepers falsetto scream signal a strong, pounding opener with “Another Hero” – a thoughtful myriad of lead breaks of the single/dual harmony variety keep engagement high beyond the undeniable catchy chorus. Teutonic-oriented power riffs next to the steady double kick/natural drum grooves of Michael Ehré make “Raged by Pain” a second half memorable monster, the shout-a-long simplified chorus encouraging plenty of audience feedback if the band choose to make this a permanent setlist fixture. Never content to stay stagnant in one specific BPM mold, efforts like “Deep in the Night” and the dramatic power ballad “Forever” featuring lush acoustic guitar lines and plenty of supplementary orchestration prove these musicians understand that dynamic diversity ensures a record’s appeal long-term. And who doesn’t like a Rainbow/Dio-esque 7:23 outing such as “Their Gods Have Failed”, where Ralf can stretch his voice into theatrical/dramatic angles, the supplementary background chants mirroring the marching musical movements, as the narration midway through heightens anticipation for the fluid, thoughtful guitar action from the trio of Tom Naumann, Alex Beyrodt, and Magnus Karlsson.

Code Red is a logical follow-up to Metal Commando – and for their first effort on Atomic Fire Records, Primal Fear continually proves their reliable quality songwriting and performance abilities in the power metal realm.

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8.5 / 10