Primal Fear - New religion 3.5/5

Reviewed: 9-7-07





Tracklist:

1. Sign of fear
2. Face the emptiness
3. Everytime it rains
4. New religion
5. Fighting the darkness
6. Blood on your hands
7. The curse of Sharon
8. Too much time
9. Psycho
10. World on fire
11. The man (That I don't know)


Those German Metal Commandos are back with a new CD entitled ‘New religion’. This new release is Primal Fear’s 7th since spanning back from their debut in 1998, and their first with Frontiers Records. Off the huge success which was ‘Seven seals’, would ‘New religion’ be as good, better or not so good as their previous CD? Having loosely heard maybe just over half of the CD before really getting into it, I was having some concerns that it may not be as good as ‘Seven seals’, and even not as good as the ones before that. A few full spins was required before entering judgement.

After those much anticipated spins of ‘New religion’, I still must say that it is not as good as ‘Seven seals’, although it remains a solid effort from Primal Fear. Being a huge fan of this band, I really did not want this release to be a disappointment. But unfortunately I must say that in some areas, ‘New religion’ falls short on what we normally expect from this band. I feel that some of the songs are not up to Primal Fear calibre and that there hasn’t been as much effort as with previous songs, but on the flip side Primal Fear have also changed their style and tempo on some of the songs on the new CD. The majority of songs from ‘New religion’, lyrics wise, seem like a “personal journey” for the band. Quite emotional lyrics, and there are a few more slower songs here than on other CDs.

I wouldn’t say that this new release has been rushed, but some songs do give that indication. Primal Fear have experimented with their sound on ‘New religion’, particularly using more keyboards and noticeable song structure changes. Guitarist Tom Naumann did not play on this release and has seemed to have left the band. So his replacement is old Primal Fear guitarist, Henny Wolter. Wolter played with Primal Fear on their ‘Nuclear fire’ and ‘Black sun’ CDs before Naumann returned for his 2nd stint with the band. Wolter has started just where he left off, belting out some ripping solos throughout the CD, coinciding, of course, with Primal Fear’s other guitarist Stefan Leibing.

“Sign of fear” begins the new CD, where we hear the typical Primal Fear riffs and fast drumming. Vocalist Ralf Scheepers breaks out the high notes during the verses, a la Rob Halford, and the song is quite reminiscent of 80s-90s era Judas Priest. “Face the emptiness” is another typical Primal Fear track, but with an extra dose of keyboards. The song has an early Primal Fear feel to it, but overall it doesn’t register as a top song on the CD. “Every time it rains” is a decent power ballad which is also a duet with Epica’s vocalist, Simone Simons. As power ballads go, this one is really terrific and has a very catchy chorus. Simone Simons sings very well, as does Ralf.

The title track kicks in next and again we are treated with yet another typical Primal Fear track. This one does lift the intensity a few notches and the CD’s quality is on the rise. Next up is one of the best tracks on the CD, with the song entitled “Fighting the darkness”. Here is another power ballad with one of the most catchiest choruses I’ve heard in a while. Although being a slow power ballad, Primal Fear stretch this track to just under 9 minutes. This is due to an instrumental piece in the middle of the song, which goes for around 4 minutes. The song is emotional, personal and very well done. “Blood on your hands” is another riff-filled track, which again feels like early Primal Fear and would have fit perfectly on ‘Jaws of death’. Ralf really belts this track out very well and it also contains a nice solo.

It is here where the CD dips somewhat, with the next 2 tracks being rather average for Primal Fear’s standard. After those 2 disappointing songs, the CD picks up greatly with the next track, entitled “Psycho”. This track is easily the best on the CD and is very reminiscent of “Running in the dust”; a classic Primal Fear song from their debut. “World on fire” is another speedy track which has typical Primal Fear written all over it and another song to remember. The CD ends with yet another soulful power ballad called “The man (That I don’t know)”. This one is not as good as the other ballads and it’s a disappointing way to end the CD. Despite being rather emotional, the song never really gets off the ground.

Overall, when you balance up everything that is served to you on “New religion”, I still come to the conclusion that it is not up to par with their previous few releases, especially song-wise. Those who are getting into Primal Fear for the first time, I wouldn’t recommend this CD to start your journey. Start with other releases such as ‘Seven seals’, ‘Black sun’ and ‘Nuclear fire’. Still, Primal Fear are one of the best power metal bands going round and even a decent Primal Fear release is still a solid release. There are a few outstanding and memorable songs, but the rest do fall short a tad. Primal Fear fans will still purchase this CD blindly, but for the others I recommend that you hear it before you buy.



SEAN




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