With 10 studio albums already behind them, German power metal band Primal Fear have more than proved their worth as one of the most respected European metal bands around. Their last album Delivering the Black (2014) was their most successful album to date, but Rulebreaker is most definitely a game changer for the band. As you would expect there is plenty of speed metal and thrash inspired tracks here but it's also quite reminiscent of some of Saxons work too Bullets and Tears and Raving Mad being examples.
The opening moments of Angels of Mercy sounds as if the band have raided the sound effects department on a sci-fi film. The guitars and drums create a torrent of sound before Ralf Scheepers snarling vocals blast this track into life. If track one didn't convince you then track two almost certainly will. The End Is Near has some amazing powerhouse musicianship from the band and sees Ralf screeching like a banshee, proving his amazing vocal dexterity.
Rulebreaker is the albums radio friendly track, with an energetic heavy metal riff driving the track. Listen out for Mat Sinner's bass booming like a motorcycle engine turning over during the verses too. In Metal We Trust, may be a slightly hokey title, but it's no sentimental schmaltz, it's an unbridled speed metal onslaught which will have you raising your fists to this victorious metal anthem.
We Walk Without Fear is an 11-minute symphonic opus, which raises new heights for the band. It's the longest track they have ever set down, an honour that had previously gone to One Night In December from their previous album which clocked in at 9 minuted. WWWF is a melodic and spellbinding track that operates on the level of a lullaby and a Grimm's Fairytale in terms of atmospherics crossed with Maiden's Fear Of The Dark, excellent and oh so dark. Kudos to Sinner and Hansen for engineering such a multi-layered track.
At War With The World, is a fairly standard melodic rock track and Constant Heart is a frantic, rhythmic thrash based track with some more awesome power screaming from Ralf. In contrast, The Sky Is Burning, strips things down with acoustic guitars and a paired down arrangement which allows the electrified chorus to surge. The albums finale, Raving Mad wraps the album in pretty much the same way it started with plenty of kick-ass metal and some soaring vocals.
Francesco Jovino does a first-rate job as the bands new drummer. He hits those skins with such ferocity that you get thrown back with the force. The addition of former member Tom Naumann into the line-up makes a triple guitar wall of sound that gives a fuller sonic presence.
The album was once again produced by the band's bass player Mat Sinner along with engineer Jacob Hansen who has previously worked with Amaranthe and Vollbeat. Both are no strangers to creating a full orchestral sound to enhance the music, but they also have the subtlety to back off from the arrangements when required, so that the core of the song is not overly saturated with flourishes which can detract from the music. Thankfully what they have produced is everything you hope for in a Primal Fear album and more.