Review Summary: Even Ralf Scheepers could score against Brazil
Just a few day before Judas Priest release their new album, let us take a step back and listen to “Delivering the Black”. Primal Fear has always been a nice substitute for Priest fans with the high pitched voice of Ralf Scheepers and the speed metal riffing. Blame Painkiller for Primal Fear. It has been almost 20 years since the band formed and they still manage to pen nice albums. This is their 10th offering and quite possibly the best.
The main feat of PF, throughout their career, is their dedication to heavy metal a la Priest. If you are fond of the classic power/speed metal formula, you can’t go wrong with DtB. First thing I noticed is the excellent production. It’s not easy to sound modern while playing classic heavy metal and PF is absolutely delivering the goods. The veterans sound rejuvenated, full of energy and passion. The songs are ultra-fast, most of them around the four minute mark. However, there are two epics, which stand out pretty easily. “When death comes out knocking” and “One night in December” step out of the formula, adding longer solos and slower, acoustic parts. This is as adventurous as PF will ever get and is certainly preferable from the uninspired power ballad “Born with a broken Heart”. The low side of this album, I’m afraid.
I get this same feeling when I listen to Primal Fear, like I stepped in a time machine. I feel I am 15 again, but not in a good way. I mean, it’s not going back to the nineties, but more like it is 2014 and I am forced to listen to old music. In the case of DtB it’s not as bad as other PF albums, because this time they don’t sound forced and the songs are actually good. Especially “Rebel faction” that thrashes out magnificently, in a Swedish modern metal kind of way. Maybe they should try to explore this territory more in the next album. And okay, Ralph shrieks here. But it is the only part of the album that you don’t feel like an old geezer. Ralph Scheepers voice used to be the highlight of nearly all the PF albums, but not in this one. Although still one of the most recognizable voices in heavy metal, Ralph sounds more in balance with the rest of the band rather than shrieking all the time. Talking about speed/power metal, can’t see who can outsing him.
And the lyrics… Come on guys, seriously? 50 year old guys singing about thunders and lightning? I know that it is part of the whole gimmick but I still can’t accept that part of mature power metal. On the other hand, even Judas Priest still sing about evil machines and enraged bikes, so why not PF? These “us against the world” lyrics are a major turn off, period. Maybe if the band didn’t sound so serious and added a bit of humor in the mix like Edguy, then I wouldn't be so critical but enough already.
The blue-collar Germans are in the top of their game, with all the obvious pros and cons of this formulaic genre. They found a way to sound tighter than ever, the excellent classic riffs mix perfectly with the highly energetic drumming. The songs are really good, especially in the first side of the album. 6 months after the release, DtB is already the most successful album of PF and I can understand why. It’s the sound of a dedicated, serious and professional heavy metal band in 2014. Proceed at your own risk.