Primal Fear – Unbreakable
The title of this ninth Primal Fear album is very misleading, I ran it over with my car and it was in pieces.
Good, I got that out of my system. Everyone’s favorite Painkiller-era Judas Priest clone is back with Unbreakable, an album that, despite its physical fragility, packs more power than an army of those Duracell bunnies. Hurray for nonsensical references.
Ralf Scheepers (fun fact: that’s a breed of dog in Dutch – I find this kind of thing amusing) & Co have re-invented themselves a number of times over the last few releases. After a long and strong, loud and proud power metal career came symphonic highlight Seven Seals, to be followed by the more commercially oriented New Religion. 2009’s 16.6 – Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (what does that even mean?) was an attempted return to the glory of Nuclear Fire, but ended up being a little half-assed. Worry no longer, because Primal Fear is totally back with a bunch of melodies you’ll have to dislodge from your skull with some kind of scraping tool.
Kicking off with – what else? – an instrumental intro, the first full song is “Strike”. And it’s not the kind of thing you’d scream during bowling matches, but rather while setting the face of your enemies on fire. Fast and furious, with no relation to Vin Diesel, it smokes more than a nicotine-addicted student during his midterms and is the iron fist that had been sorely missing from my stomach in recent Primal Fear history.
“Give ‘Em Hell” does little but reinforce this image before segueing into single “Bad Guys Wear Black” (which is a preposterous title, since The Joker always wore purple suits). Anyways, it’s catchy and invokes good ol’ Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” with a repeated “Bang your head!” as if at that point the audience isn’t sure whether to do that or bake cookies and hang out with their grandparents. “And There Was Silence” is a more mellow tune made better by a shimmering chorus, of which this album has a satisfactory supply. “Metal Nation” is another one of those tracks inviting all us metalheads to go live in a bunker together and crank some Savatage, but you can’t hold it against the band when it kicks that much already-booted ass.
Primal Fear never shies away from a long middle track (see “Diabolus”, “Fighting The Darkness” e.g.) and “Where Angels Die” can proudly stand among its predecessors. Slow-moving, with an epic feel and soaring refrain; sometimes this band is just fine even when they’re not strangling posers. Speaking of which, they promptly return to just that with the second part of the title track (the first being the intro for some reason), the most energetic song on the album and a testament to the legacy of Primal Fear. A shame then that the record fizzles out after this with some solid but unremarkable material.
Most German power metal titans of the nineties may be past their prime, but I welcome any solid offering from one of the bands that brought me into the scene in the first place. In that regard Unbreakable is to be applauded and I can once again embrace Primal Fear for the melodic metal commando they are. Now go out there and raise … some … HEEEEELL!
Arno Callens’ Rating: 3.75 out of 5