Ralf Scheepers and Mat Sinner keep the power metal faith flying with PRIMAL FEAR’s eleventh studio album “Rulebreaker”. Francesco Jovino joins the fold on drums for this outing, while the band is fortified with the triple guitar attack of Magnus Karlsson, Alex Beyrodt and in-out-in member Tom Naumann. There should be no surprises what PRIMAL FEAR dishes up on “Rulebreaker”, which is to be taken as assurance or caveat — ACCEPT, as ever, playing a heavy influence over the album.
“Angels Of Mercy” chugs along the trail of a pretty cool series of electro huffs by Magnus Karlsson, and hits a steady pulse with standard heavy metal riffs. Everything is set to standard for a chock-a-block power metal number stuffed with a quickly dealt guitar solo and movielike bridge. So too applies to “The End is Near” and “Bullets & Tears”, with PRIMAL FEAR purring along thrusting beats and ACCEPT-borrowed riffs. The saving grace for PRIMAL FEAR’s liberal usage in “The End is Near” is their professional delivery, and the song scores big with a flair-filled guitar solo. In the case of “Bullets & Tears”, a poppy bridge and chorus gives the cut a statelier swing.
The mid-tempo title track is played like an aspirant metal anthem (the actual anthem comes on “In Metal We Trust”). PRIMAL FEAR once more taps the ACCEPT playbook with Mat Sinner’s humming bass lines on the verses and Ralf Scheepers leading gang-slung choruses. As with the preceding tracks, there’s a feeling of being at a mere even kilter instead of balls out, even if all the tracks are dropped cleanly and given girth by Francesco Jovino’s willful pounding.
“In Metal We Trust” is the metalhead’s happy spot, as PRIMAL FEAR picks up speed in HELLOWEEN fashion. Ralf Scheepers hits a few shrieking falsettos while Francesco Jovino drops a nifty double-hammer and the guitars strike handsomely. It’s the adrenaline shot needed to withstand the eleven-minute cavalcade following it, “We Walk Without Fear”.
The latter turns into a would-be cinematic epic led by chimes and synthesized choral samples. It takes two-and-a-half minutes before Scheepers appears, and he’s the beacon light to this overfilled cut. “We Walk Without Fear” has its charms, particularly its appealing melodies, but all of what’s right about the cut is merely the excuse to send the track into a guitar solo party. Terrific as those may be, it becomes too much primping, and the manufactured choral sections, repeatedly plopped about the track, get old.
The rest of “Rulebreaker” alternates between mid-tempo and slower tracks: “At War With the World”, “Raving Mad” and “Constant Heart” representing the former, “The Devil in Me” and the superb “The Sky is Burning” the latter. All are hard-hitting thanks to Francesco Jovino’s punctuated clubbing. There’s nothing to this album that hasn’t been done before by PRIMAL FEAR (or their core muses, for that matter), but it is, by and large, a well-greased engine with enough piston kicks to engineer an entertaining ride.