Primal Fear have made a name for themselves by combining the energy of traditional heavy metal with the speed and melody of power metal. Although this mixture was nothing fresh or unheard of, they had a unique approach to writing and arranging that gave birth to some of the most amazing tunes in contemporary heavy metal. However, after reaching their apogee with Seven Seals, the band’s career was shaken with frequent line-up changes and albums that couldn’t quite stand up to the standard they had set in the past.
Delivering the Black is a step in the right direction for the Teutonic metal titans. The previous three releases were somewhat bleak and easily forgettable, save for 16.6 which packed some solid punches. On Delivering the Black Primal Fear drew influence from their most acclaimed albums: the self-titled debut, Nuclear Fire and Seven Seals. It features memorable hooks, rock-solid riffs and catchy dual-guitar harmonies. The album has a lot of NWOBHM influences, evident in tracks like “King for a Day” and “Alive & on Fire,” with shades of German speed and power metal, like in “Rebel Faction” or the bombastic “Inseminoid;” a formula that proved to be a winning combination for the band in the past.
Although some tracks stand out more than the others, the album has very few fillers and keeps your attention start to finish. The fact that running time is around 52 minutes also helps as this length is perfect for the album to be enjoyable and avoid becoming repetitive. The aforementioned standouts are definitely the two longest tracks on the album, “When Death Comes Knocking” and “One Night in December.” The former is a bit uninventive, but the eerie atmosphere delivered through Ralf Scheepers’ outstanding vocal performance keeps you on the edge of the seat for the whole duration of the track. The latter is a textbook example of how a modern power/heavy metal band should sound: the dynamic verse sets the stage for the catchy chorus and the dynamic guitar duo comprised of Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt weave intricate guitar harmonies throughout the track. The entire band delivers an outstanding performance coupled with production that captures the best aspects of Primal Fear.
In conclusion, while the album brings nothing fresh onto the table, it is certainly an outstanding release that has the potential to return Primal Fear to the glory they enjoyed in the early 2000’s. If you enjoy heavy metal that does not forget its roots but progresses in terms of production and songwriting, then I strongly recommend Delivering the Black.