Does exactly the job it needs to do

Ever since he missed out on Halford’s job at Judas Priest, Ralf Scheepers has seemed intent on emulating that band as closely as possible like he’s been playing the world’s longest game of ‘What If?’

With co-conspirators Matt Sinner and Tom Naumann – back in the band to bring the guitar team up to Iron Maiden levels – Scheepers’ band Primal Fear has laid down some pretty tasty albums of Priest-flavoured metal while seemingly ignoring one aspect that made Judas Priest the band they are – diversity.

While Judas Priest made a conscious effort to sound different from album to album, Primal Fear never has. Despite its title, Rulebreaker makes no attempt to divert from the sound and style that this band has been peddling since they began, a catchy blend of Euro-power metal and Painkiller-inspired crunch ‘n’ speed. Hard as nails riffing and Scheepers’ gravelly tones give the first couple of tracks an early-Accept like vibe while the next three are pure Priest-worshipping anthemic metal right down to the riff in ‘Bullets and Tears’ that almost sounds like ‘Breaking the Law’. Later tracks fall into the same general pattern – fiery, catchy heavy metal broken up with token power ballad ‘The Sky is Burning’ before wrapping with the blazing ‘Raving Mad’. The epic ‘We Walk Without Fear’ however, is a monster track with all the right levels of heavy metal bombast showing the true creative power Primal Fear has at their disposal, towering above every other song on the album. It says a lot about a band when an album’s best cut is the one that doesn’t seem to consciously sound like some other band.

Still, it’s hard not to like Rulebreaker. Simply for its dedication to nothing but pure metal, Scheepers dynamic vocals that shift effortlessly from throaty growls to soaring wails and the triple axe team burning their way through some scorching solos, Rulebreaker does exactly the job it needs to do – get fists pumping and heads banging. It’s hard to argue with that.

1. Angels of Mercy
2. The End is Near
3. Bullets & Tears
4. Rulerbreaker
5. In Metal We Trust
6. We Walk Without Fear
7. At War With the World
8. The Devil in Me
9. Constant Heart
10. The Sky is Burning
11. Raving Mad