Release Date: January 20, 2011 (EU) – January 24, 2012 (US)
While the various members of Primal Fear have been keeping busy with outside projects, the German metal quintet found time to record its ninth studio album, Unbreakable. Founders Ralf Scheepers (vocals) and Mat Sinner (bass) remain steadfast components of the ban since 1997. Drummer Randy Black and guitarist Magnus Karlsson also return. The new addition for this record is guitar god and longtime band friend, Alex Beyrodt. Mat Sinner has been playing and recording with Beyrodt in Voodoo Circle, and in kind Alex worked with Mat on the latest Sinner album. If you do not know Beyrodt, think Yngwie Malmsteen meets Ritchie Blackmore.
After setting the table with the short intro “Unbreakable (Part 1)”, the band gets right into the classic metal riffage on “Strike”. The overall feel and sound of this track takes me back to the NWOBHM of the late 70s early 80s. That signature threads through much of the album. This track segues into “Give Em Hell”, which has a similar feel to its predecessor.
“Bad Guys Wear Black” kicks off with a military style snare that gives us a battlefield feel, before the song jumps into a rocker that has a Maidenesque verse and a huge sing-along chorus. “Bang Your Head!” More of the Maiden vibe on the dual guitar solo at about 2:45 in.
Unbreakable sweeps between faster numbers such as “And There Was Silence” and “Marching Again” to anthemic mid-tempo numbers like “Bad Guys Wear Black” and “Metal Nation”. The latter track is followed by the mid-paced “Where Angels Die”. A somewhat grandiose affair with epic elements, stirring guitar work, and soaring vocals lines. The piece chimes in at over 8 minutes.
The title track (Part 2) is up next, a solid rocker that highlights the band’s various skills as instrumentalists. More big choral harmonies set this track apart as one of the highlights.
The record’s power ballad comes in the form of “Born Again”, which as ballad’s go is solid but not particularly memorable. While a nice change of pace, the band quickly gets back to what it does best on the driving, rock and chuggers, “Blaze Of Glory” and “Conviction”.
Unbreakable is another impressive pure Primal Fear-fest. Everything you love about the band in a healthy hour-long dosage. Primal Fear’s sound is fairly consistent from album to album and Unbreakable is no different. Crisp, precise guitar work overlaid by Scheeper’s incredible four-octave voice, and set upon a rock solid rhythm section. Some might even argue the band has become a bit formulaic. While it’s hard to argue that the band doesn’t stray much from its signature sound, that does not lessen the impressiveness of the band’s dynamic style. Perhaps there’s nothing particularly new here, but it never gets old either!!! So crank it up and enjoy.