Review Summary: Primal Fear return to top form with 16.6.
2009 seems like a pretty good year so far. Both in quality and the diversity or strength of the material released. Take for example the great comeback by Megadeth with the astounding Endgame or very solid albums by Kreator, Ensiferum etc. On the other hand you have disappointments like Humbug or The Resistance. When I noticed that Primal Fear
, one of the biggest power metal acts in Germany, are going to release another album I was very sceptic about it, after the lackluster New Religion
. But when I watched the music video for Six Times Dead
all my fears drifted away and I knew this album is going to be good.
Only I didn´t know it´s going to be THIS good. 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead)
, being one of the worst and longest titles I´ve ever seen is also quite possibly the most ambitious and focused release in Primal Fear´s discography. The aspect that contributed most to this statement is without doubt the addition of guitarist Magnus Karlsson, replacing guitarist and founding member Stefan Leibing. Karlsson and Henny Wolter waste no time delivering fast, agressive riffs and amazing solos in almost every song. Once you get past the first three songs all the material found on New Religion
will seem like a bad joke. 16.6, as also correctly stated in one of PF hype interviews, is a perfect blend of the older, more raw power metal (Black Sun
, Nuclear Fire
) and the more polished and symphonic sound of Seven Seals
Primal Fear though aren´t reinventing the wheel or pushing the boundaries of the genre. We are still treated with the Halford type vocals of Ralf Scheepers coupled with the overwhelming and ever-present guitars, fairly audible bass and quite solid drumming. Nothing that couldn´t be found on previous albums but all these elements were perfected here.
16.6 consists of 13 tracks + 2 bonus (digipack) songs that will keep you interested from the beginning to the end. Riding The Eagle
with its steady drum work and high-pitched vocals represents Primal Fear from the late 90s whereas the incredibly thrashy Six Times Dead
shows influence from the famous Teutonic thrash trio. Under The Radar
features great, almost emotional guitar work and Soar
has a creepy experimental interlude coupled with traditional PF-style riffs. 5.0 /Torn
, reminding us of Seven Seals
era, is the longest track to be found here and with it´s Van Halen style intro, great rhythm guitar work and sweeping solos may be the best song of the album and shares similarity with another great track, Black Rain
. All the band members have vocal duties on a rather gay ballad Hands Of Time
, the album closer. It´s not very metal nor great and I would´ve chosen a different album closer myself but it´s a good song nontheless. In the digipack edition of the album there are 2 bonus songs included and are definitely worth a listen too.
Is this Primal Fear´s finest hour? Possibly yes. Has it enough variety to please any PF or power metal fan? Definitely. PF showed great improvement and it´s going to be very hard topping this release with another one. Final score
Recommended tracks :
Six Times Dead
Under The Radar