Primal Fear: Nuclear Fire - 2001 reviewed by: Vinaya Saksena
1. Angel in Black 2. Kiss of Death 3. Back from Hell 4. Now or Never 5. Fight the Fire 6. Eye of an Eagle 7. Bleed for Me 8. Nuclear Fire 9. Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove 10. Red Rain 11. Fire on the Horizon 12. Living for Metal
The sheer volume (in every sense of the term) of high quality, precision-crafted heavy metal currently pouring out of Germany never ceases to amaze me. Year after year, obscure but highly talented acts such as Helloween, Sinner, Pink Cream 69 and their countless contemporaries have continued to inundate the world with a steady outpouring of highly melodic, dramatic and painstakingly well-played metal. Right in the melodramatic thick of it all has been Primal Fear, the highly (and rightfully) successful side-project-turned-full-time-band of bassist Mat Sinner (Sinner) and vocalist extraordinaire Ralf Scheepers (Gamma Ray, Tyran Pace).
Tagged by many critics (in both praise and derision) as a modern-day, Continental European version of England’s near-legendary Judas Priest, this gathering of high-decibel over-achievers has been around since ‘98, yet have already unleashed this, their third album (how many bands can you name, in this day and age, that manage to crank out one album per year?). In any case, “Nuclear Fire” is a nicely packaged collection of considerably heavy, often fast tunes which, again, recall the classic works of Judas Priest and other fine vintage metal acts. And if popular culture has led you to think of metal as a bunch of loud, noisy, simplistic, detuned riffs banged out over a hip-hop beat by guys who appear to have their pants around their knees, then, in the words of a certain well-known metal anthem, "you’ve got another thing coming"!
Punctuated by sprawling, mechanically precise drum fills and Ralf Scheepers’ sinus-straining, almost operatic wail, “Nuclear Fire” starts off with a bang (“Angel In Black”) and never lets up, save for the almost mellow tracks “Now Or Never” and “Iron Fist In A Velvet Glove” (I’m still confused by that one). Some of the more intense tunes approach the feel of vintage Metallica, though most of these tracks lean towards the more melodic European style of metal than the punishing mid-tempo grooves of the modern American variety.
Another key element of the band’s sound that deserves mentioning is Stefan Leibing and Henny Wolter’s tasty, intense and melodic guitar solos (lots of jaw-dropping harmonized lines!), which serve as the icing on the cake for these very traditional, yet well-conceived songs. My only complaint would be the overabundance of those faster, edgier tunes. It’s not that these tracks aren’t up to the compositional standards of the rest of the album (or that I can’t handle the heat), there are simply too many of them, diminishing the album’s fun factor somewhat. But despite such shortcomings, I’ve got to commend these guys for their hard work, because their music, by it’s very nature, is immeasurably more skillful and musical than that of 98% of the heavy bands currently hogging the limelight is likely to ever be.
--Vinaya Saksena 04.07.04
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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