The sophomore slump is a dangerous, and common, trend in music. Many bands have failed to make a follow-up that could match up with their debut, and usually suffer commercially and critically as a result. Many bands, such as Gamma Ray
, created inferior follow-ups compared to their debuts, and really hurt their early career because of this. One large case of a sophomore slump is Jaws of Death
by Primal Fear
, an album that hardly compares to their other albums by a long shot.
Before I go into detail about the problems of the album, it does have a few positive points. The first song of the album, “Final Embrace,” is everything you could possibly need from Ralf Scheepers and the gang, with tight riffing, great soloing, and Mr. Scheepers dominating the microphone. The song defines Primal Fear’s
career, and makes for an excellent introduction to what was a promising album. Songs like “Save a Prayer” and “Hatred in My Soul” follow and play off the band’s strengths of soloing and singing, and are necessary listens as well. Their style of Power Metal is at its strongest on these three songs, and newcomers to the band will likely be in joy just from the songs...
…Though, after those tracks, is where the problems start. Out of the eleven songs, only three are fairly enjoyable. Every other song plods on without emotion, doing little to hold the listener’s attention and just makes painfully boring listen after listen. The guitar playing becomes derivative of the band’s other material from both this album and their self-titled album, and even Scheepers’s singing is mediocre and unremarkable throughout the eight boring songs. All of the band members, especially the aforementioned Scheepers, feel like they are on auto-pilot, and lack the energy and motivation from their debut and later albums like Black Sun
Excluding the individual performances, the songwriting might be the weakest aspect of the album. The songs lack the spark that make songs like “Final Embrace” and “Silver and Gold” so great, and is what unfortunately kills the album. The melodies feel forced, and it becomes impossible to enjoy them if it is song after song of repetitive and bland riffing and singing. Sure, some songs may be faster than others, but the perpetual elements in the eight bad songs are enough to stray anyone away from the actually good songs like “Hatred in My Soul.”
In their early years, there is no reason a band like Primal Fear
should release such a boring album. Few points throughout the eleven songs catch the listener’s attention, and it just feels as though the band was on autopilot in both songwriting and performances. Though the band thankfully bounced back with one of their best albums, Nuclear Fire
, this is one flaw that should not be forgotten in the long career of Ralf Scheepers.