Primal Fear - Delivering the Black (Frontiers Records)

Frighteningly good stuff from aband I'd feared were finished...
Release Date: 
24 Jan 2014 (All day)

German speed metal kings Primal Fear have, in my opinion, been running on empty for a while now; whether that’s because main songwriter Mat Sinner is involved in so many other projects as to render him a bit impotent when it comes time to toss off a few riffs for PF I’m not sure, though it can’t be a helpful state of affairs for the rest of the musicians involved. Or maybe it’s just because, over the course of nine albums of largely similar-sounding power metal, our relationship has grown a bit stale, to the point where I really wasn’t that bothered at all whether I listened to Delivering the Black at all. I certainly had no plans to review the album.

How glad I am to be proved wrong. Delivering the Black is strident, powerful and, most importantly, rammed to the gunwhales with splendid heavy metal tunes. In fact I’d go so far to say it’s their best work since 2001’s excellent Nuclear Fire which for me has been the landmark Primal Fear release ever since it came out.

Of course, the main criticism of Ralf Scheepers and co – an over reliance on rehashing the Judas Priest catalogue, especially the album Painkiller – can still be levelled here, particularly on the radio-friendly chugfest that is Alive & On Fire, but, as on all the best PF releases, when it’s done this well who cares? Certainly not me, and neither should you either if heads down, old school heavy metal brings a genuine Cheshire cat smile to your face.  Break out the leather trousers and pass the jagermeister, there’s a lot of good rockin’ to be had here…

Second track Rebel Faction is probably the pick of the bunch here; it’s one of the fastest songs the band has ever committed to tape, and Scheepers howls in best Freewheel Burning style all the way through. Pure unadlulterated heavy metal glory.  The title track isn’t far behind, adding a gonzoid gang-vocalled chorus to the mix that HammerFall would kill to have recorded, Scheepers again hitting the highest echelons of his register on the chorus in ludicrous yet utterly convincing style. It’s shamelessly exciting stuff, and that’s before the twin axe assault of Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt get involved in some Tipton/Downing shenanigans come solo time – Make sure all the valuables in your living room are lashed down the first time you listen to this track – I warn you now!

Most latterday PF albums have come loaded with some (some? Make that quite a bit, actually) rear end filler, but you just can’t say that about Delivering the Goo- sorry, Black – every track here is a diamond, and I guarantee that this is an album that you’ll keep returning to in 2014 if it’s good, honest, heavy metal kicks you’re after. If this album ain’t in my top ten at the end of the year, we’re in for a hell of a fine twelve months. Full marks to all concerned.