Primal Fear- Rulebreaker (Frontiers Records)

When they're not breaking the law or breaking jaws, Primal Fear shows that they can be great rulebreakers.

They say that too much of a good thing can be bad for you, but if that were really true Nutella would not be an acceptable breakfast food. The same analogy can frequently be applied to heavy metal, when we find a good sound that works; you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a million bands that will dedicate their entire career to recreating that sound. Enter Primal Fear, a band who took a look at Judas Priest and said “that shit is rad, let’s do that on every album”. You’re not going to get much in the way of surprises on a Primal Fear album, but you will get consistency. So if you’re in need of an 80’s influenced classic riff platter, get this in you before you start screaming for vengeance.

Rulebreaker starts off strong with Angels of Mercy (as opposed to Angel of Retribution), it has everything you could want from a Primal Fear tune, crunchy riffs, pounding rhythms and a singalong chorus. Fun little tidbit, but vocalist Ralf Scheepers once auditioned to be Rob Halford’s replacement in Priest when the Metal God left the band in the early 90’s. To this day, I have no idea why they decided to go with Ripper Owens because Scheepers is the most on point Halford impersonator in the world. His vocals really drive home the power of Primal Fear and shine on tracks like At War With the World and Constant Heart. 

In fact, there’s quite a lot on Rulebreaker that rules if you’ll pardon the pun. Much of it is rather straightforward as you’d expect, but Primal Fear is firing on all cylinders and the songs they’ve crafted here are some of the strongest they have written in a while. Granted, the band isn’t winning any awards for ambitious experimentation, and a couple of songs might warrant a skip but is retroloaded fun nonetheless.

Primal Fear isn’t exactly re-inventing the wheel here, but it is reliable consistent acts like this that keeps the rubber burning on the road. So, crank up that 8-track, slap on those leather pants and let the metal guide your way.