Primal Fear is a rare example of the band, where, what is called, the stars have aligned. In 1998 their debut album gained a lot of attention and became the best debut album in Germany that year. Nevertheless, musicians worked hard also without relying on blind luck: for 23 years of existence this band has a quite big discography and enormous number of live shows. And now, in 2020 Primal Fear release their new album with a little bit pathetic name Metal Commando.
Bassist Mat Sinner explains the background of this name with a smile: “Back on our very first US tour the guys over there gave us that nickname – “German Metal Commando”. Really, I have no idea as to where it came from or who started it all but it somehow stuck with us.”
Obviously, Metal Commando it a true Teutonic Heavy Metal with rigid guitars, great hooks and melodic choruses; it’d be weird to expect something else from this band. Primal Fear knows exactly what fans want from them and how to deliver it in a best way. Also it’s a first album with new drummer Michael Ehré (Gamma Ray, The Unity, ex-Metalium) and the third where the band plays with three guitars – in 2015 Tom Naumann returned to the band and joined Alex Beyrodt and Magnus Karlsson.
German Heavy Metal in this album is “Along Came The Devil”, “Raise Your Fists”, “The Lost & The Forgotten” and “Afterlife”. Relatively simple but heavy riffs, melody and diverse but invariably technical guitar solos from all three guitarists – here the components of true Heavy Metal, which Primal Fear masterfully mix in exact proportions. Meanwhile, “Afterlife” is outstanding with its melody and catchiness and there is a good pumping bass can be heard in “The Lost & The Forgotten”. Hurricane “My Name Is Fear” and “Halo” are going more to Power Metal and “Howl Of The Banshee” with opening “I Am Alive” sounds like NWOBHM, melodic, heavy and with tons of pathos.
The ballad “I Will Be Gone” is just acoustic guitar and vocals. There are some more male voices in a chorus, string instrument and some percussion but overall this song sounds quite minimalistic and not maudlin at all. But the most outstanding song in Metal Commando is undoubtedly “Infinity”, which closes the album. It’s the longest track here, a little bit more than 13 minutes and, if my memory serves me, the longest in the whole band’s history. “Infinity” starts slowly and very atmospheric, a little bit in a ballad way but in some moment solid guitars with drums join and music becomes faster and tougher, keeping the main, catchy melody – it’s a red line which goes through the whole song from the beginning to the end. Numerous pace changings and blending of heaviness, melody and catchiness of this music makes this song a real pearl of the album. And of course there is a place for every musician here, and every one of this sextet showed his talent and what he’s got.
The only thing that embarrasses me personally in that Metal Commando sounds “overproduced”, too smoothly. I can assume that Mat Sinner, which produced this album wanted to make the best but sometimes there is a lack of something spicy in sound. Some people also blamed the album for excessive predictability, triteness of lyrics and even overuse of the word “fear” in the songs’ names (last one is nothing more than a joke inside the band). Maybe they right in some way, but if we’ll recall the term “conformity of expectations”, so, like I said, metalheads expect exactly this from Primal Fear. On their turn, musicians know that and try not to repeating themselves, not to make the music boring or bland. And they cope with this task. At least, they coped in Metal Commando for sure.
Metal Commando was released on July, 24 via Nuclear Blast.
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