Primal Fear - Seven seals 3.5/5
1. Demons & angels
3. Seven seals
4. Evil spell
5. The immortal ones
7. All for one
9. Question of honour
10. In memory
My favorite Primal Fear CD remains their s/t debut. I remember how fresh it sounded hearing Primal Fear's clear imitation of Judas Priest mixed with their German power metal stylings. Ralf Scheepers had clearly found a perfect musical vehicle for his considerable vocal talents. Over the years, Primal Fear has released 4 more CDs all of more or less similar quality. All feature the same overall style described above and depending on which songs click for you, any of them could be your favorite by them. For my money, I would probably list 'Black sun', their 4th CD, as my 2nd favorite, due in large part to the ungodly awesome "Mind machine". After their last CD, 'Devil's ground', rumors swirled on the internet that Primal Fear may be undergoing a drastic change in style and may produce something different akin to the transformation Nocturnal Rites made between 'The sacred talisman' and 'Afterlife'. I was both intrigued and somewhat trepidacious about what this change might entail.
Well, now the 6th CD (with 'Seven' in the title?) is here. I must say, I don't hear any massive transformation. In fact, I don't hear any transformation in their sound at all, so if this rumor had any meat to it, apparently the band changed their minds. I have heard some fans claim that this CD doesn't really have the Judas Priest influences, but I find those claims laughable. While it's true this might not quite sound as much like Priest as the debut CD did, well... 'Black sun' didn't sound any more like Priest than this CD either. So, Primal Fear fans can expect more of the same on this outing.
More of the same, as it turns out, is still pretty good. "Demons and angels" opens the CD in pretty typical fashion. The German power metal stylings, Priestish riffings, and harmony guitars are very much in tact. And, in fact this pattern pretty much follows throughout the CD. The one real standout track to my ears is "Evil spell". After a harmony guitar/keyboard intro, this song takes off with very high-paced drums backing more midtempo guitar riffing. There is a main harmony guitar riff during the choruses that is extremely catchy and just rules. This song is completely infectious and is my favorite Primal Fear track in a while. "The immortal ones" features some heavier, down tuned riffs and isn't too different from the aforementioned "Mind machine". Interestingly, a song included on this CD is "Question of honour". "Question" was originally a song on Mat Sinner's (Primal Fear bassist) other, (formerly main) band, Sinner, on their best CD 'Nature of evil'. This song is pretty faithful to the original version with the main difference being Ralf providing the lead vocals. It's funny, since on the original version Ralf is clearly heard providing backing vocals during the chorus, which somewhat diminishes the impact of hearing the different vocals on this version. Still, it's such a great song, it stands out as one of the best on this CD. This CD also features a few slower, more brooding tracks like "Seven seals", "Diabolus", and "In memory". Surprisingly, for my tastes, I enjoy all these songs quite a bit.
So with 'Seven seals' Primal Fear didn't choose to go down any new roads or even take many sidesteps. Still, the formula has been pretty successful for a number of years now, so it's hard to criticize them too much for not mixing it up more. I always find myself happy when a new Primal Fear CD comes out, and to this point they have never really disappointed me. Still, given the combination of catchy songwriting, catchy choruses, quality vocals, and memorable guitars (both harmony and solo), I often find myself scratching my head and wondering why I don't feel compelled to play their CDs more often than I do. Another solid, above average, but unspectacular release.
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