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CD review: Primal Fear shine on crushing new album, 'Delivering the Black'

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Rabid metal fans anxiously awaiting new albums from Judas Priest and Accept in 2014 can gnash their teeth and bloody their ears with neck-snapping relish over this mammoth new album from Germany’s, Primal Fear. Ralf Scheepers and company return with their 10th slab of metal, “Delivering the Black”, the follow-up to the skull-crushing bounty of 2012′s, “Unbreakable“. Bassist and co-founder, Mat Sinner produced the new effort which is easily one of the band’s most explosive records to date. Guitarists Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt are simply phenomenal with sharp, resonating riffs and melodic, spiraling solos. Randy Black delivers the goods behind the kit, powerful yet subtle where required.

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It is mind-numbing to think about how many American metal fans have yet to discover Primal Fear, now more than 15 years into a stellar career. “Delivering the Black” should turn a few more heads and open a few more ears and eyes.

The album kicks off in blazing style with a barrage of crisp riffage and chugging rhythms on the album opener, “King for a Day”. Sinner and Black channel the rumbling sonic visage of Priest’s Ian Hill and Scott Travis. The dual leads soar and ensnare the listener. An anthemic hooky chorus and Scheeper’s gritty vocal delivery seal the deal.

A dramatic intro sets the tone for “Rebel Faction” which quickly turns into a speedball of rapid-fire double bass and speed-riffing that will rattle teeth and vibrate bones. This leads us into the album’s debut single, “When Death Comes Knocking”: a bombastic seven-minute piece which begins with an acoustic intro and a mid-tempo riff. Built for arenas, this beast has a massive feel to it and an undercurrent of Arabian nuances, particularly in the bridge. Scheepers’ performance gives the song an epic feel.

One can’t help but feel a connection to Priest again on “Alive & on Fire”. Scheepers even gets a touch of Halford in his delivery. “In for the kill…” Ralf howls, and heads will bang and metal horns will rise in honor!

The title cut as well as “Road to Asylum” are speeding juggernauts of pounding and thrashing riffs and rhythms. Infectious melodies make them among the record’s most memorable tracks.

The tolling of the bell and cawing birds lead into an emotive piano melody on the intro to the album’s near 10-minute cinematic piece, “One Night in December”. The song winds and builds to a powerfully melodic chorus. The guitar work is absolutely stunning. You get a real taste of both guitarists distinctive styles.

Primal Fear shows off its more intimate face with the power ballad, “Born with a Broken Heart”. Scheepers hits a poignant mark with his inspired vocal delivery, and once again the guitars dance and spirit the song to new heights. Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine adds a haunting and beautiful background on the chorus.

Closing it all out is the battering-ram rampage of “Inseminoid”, propelled by Black’s lightening quick feet and more fancy-fret axe-work by Beyrodt and Karlsson.

“Delivering the Black” is easily Primal Fear’s best all-around effort in nearly a decade. Packed with every bombastic element a metal fan could hope for, “Delivering the Black” not only delivers, as the name suggests, it propels you into the center of the arena, leather clad and head-banging. The first essential metal album of 2014, and an early contender for year-end best of lists.

"Delivering the Black" will be released on January 28, 2014 through Fronteirs Records.

Rating: 9.2/10

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