Album Review: PRIMAL FEAR – “Code Red”

Release Date: September 1st, 2023

Primal Fear, the indomitable force in the realm of power metal, returns with their triumphant 13th studio album, “Code Red.” Following the resounding success of their previous record, “Metal Commando,” this new offering is more than just a collection of tracks; it’s a testament to the enduring power of metal and the resilience of Primal Fear in the face of adversity.

From the very first notes of “Code Red,” it’s clear that Primal Fear hasn’t just returned; they’ve emerged stronger and more formidable than ever. The album is a sonic journey, encapsulating everything that has made Primal Fear a stalwart in the power metal genre. The soaring vocals of Ralf Scheepers, the thunderous rhythm section led by Mat Sinner on bass, the searing guitar work of Alex Beyrodt, Tom Naumann, and Magnus Karlsson, along with the powerful drumming of Michael Ehré, collectively create a wall of sound that is nothing short of epic.

The phoenix metaphor is apt as “Code Red” feels like a rebirth for Primal Fear, especially for producer Mat Sinner, who fought his way back to the studio after a challenging illness. The album, in many ways, becomes a musical testimony of Sinner’s resilience and passion for the craft. The result is a collection of tracks that not only showcase the band’s technical prowess but also exude a palpable energy, a testament to the life-affirming power of music.

One of the standout features of “Code Red” is Ralf Scheepers’ vocal prowess. His impressive and soaring primal scream, described by Mat Sinner as possibly his best performance to date, adds a force of nature element to the album. The vocals are mixed to perfection, ensuring they stand out without overpowering the intricate musical arrangements.

The tracklist is a rollercoaster of power metal delights, from the trademark intensity of ‘Another Hero’ reminiscent of ‘Painkiller’ vibes to the thunderous riff storm in ‘Bring That Noise’ and the epic Nordic anthem ‘Their Gods Have Failed.’ Each song is a testament to Primal Fear’s ability to draw from their extensive catalog while pushing the boundaries of the genre they’ve helped revive.

The thematic depth of the album is noteworthy, touching on serious subjects like ‘Cancel Culture,’ a pounding track addressing the challenges faced by those who speak their minds in oppressive regimes. The urgency in Mat Sinner’s lyrics is mirrored in the album title, reflecting a world seemingly spiraling into chaos. In the words of Sinner, “Now is not the time to sing about rock’n’roll, girls, and drinks.”

The production quality, thanks to the recording in Kempten and the magic touch of Jacob Hansen in Denmark, is pristine. Primal Fear’s attention to detail shines through, with Sinner emphasizing the importance of those extra ten percent, a hallmark of the band’s commitment to excellence.

In the context of Primal Fear’s impressive career spanning over two decades, “Code Red” stands out as a reawakening, a reminder of why power metal remains not just relevant but essential. This album is not merely a collection of songs; it’s a declaration that Primal Fear is back, and they’re not just surviving; they’re thriving.

“Code Red” isn’t just an album; it’s a celebration of life over death, a triumphant rebirth set against a hailstorm of riffs. Primal Fear’s legacy continues, and with this record, they’ve once again proven why they are the heroes of power metal.

Rating: 4.5/5 – A power metal masterpiece that reaffirms Primal Fear’s dominance in the genre.

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