Primal Fear is quite a fan band to listen to. The German power metal band has been hanging around the German scene for quite a while, consistently releasing album after album. They were formed after ex-Gamma Ray vocalist Ralf Scheepers could not land the vocalist position in Judas Priest (though he was one of the finalists). Along with members of German metal band Sinner, Primal Fear plays some of Germany's most aggressive power metal. The band patterned itself after the Judas Priest classic album, Painkiller, and their debut album Primal Fear was regarded by many as the album that Judas Priest should have recorded instead of Jugulator. Whether that is true or not is purely opinion, but I'm not here to compare those two albums. In 2002, the band released their fourth album, Black Sun.
With Black Sun, Primal Fear continues to use the same aggressive power/speed metal style they always have. Some my call it Priest worship, to others it is a Painkiller rip-off. To me Black Sun is a very solid collection of my favourite music genre. Melody, power, and heaviness are all important to the Primal Fear formula, as is quality song writing. Just as you would expect from a quality band such as Primal Fear, there are plenty of excellent melodic hooks that combine nicely with the riffy song structure. Tracks like Armageddon and Mind Machine execute the musical themes presented by the song writers extremely well. Guitarists Henry Wolter and Stefan Leibing have very strong showings, through either excellent bursts of rhythm guitar work or solid solos. Their efforts are represented very well by the energetic atmosphere that the music gives off; a trait though similar to that of other power metal bands, contributes greatly to the enjoyment of Black Sun.
The Judas Priest-isms don't end there. As I mentioned earlier, vocalist Ralf Scheepers was a finalist for the stint as the Priest's vocalist, and he shows why on Black Sun. Ralf's voice is very similar to that of Rob Halford's, especially on (you guessed it) the Painkiller album. As fans of Ralf's former band, Gamma Ray, would know, Scheepers can hit the high notes very well, whether they are through a more Halford-esque wail or a traditional power metal scream akin to Kai Hansen or Michael Kiske. However, Ralf has vastly improved from his Gamma Ray days. His voice now has a greater power to it, and it carries more authority. His efforts on the likes of Mind Machine and Controlled make this point extremely evident to listeners. Scheepers also often sings in a lower range. Once again similar to Halford, he makes excellent use of this skill during the verses of Black Sun's songs. Often times these lines are very memorable, especially due to the effort he puts into his performance. Ralf Scheepers is an all around fun vocalist to listen to, and easily lives up the vocal efforts that precede this.
Black Sun may not be one of the most original power metal albums to grace the planet, as it is similar to not only Judas Priest's Painkiller, but much of Primal Fear's other albums as well. However, despite the time warp that fans of the band must feel like they pass through every time a new Primal Fear record is released, Black Sun on its own is a very good album. With plenty of excellent riffs, aggressive attitudes, and classy song writing, Primal Fear's 2002 effort is easily an album worth owning. German power metal is one of my favourite sub-genres of metal, and it's due to albums such as these that I return time and time again. Black Sun is a very fun album to listen to, and I recommend it to everyone.