Devil’s Ground (Nuclear Blast)
By Daniel Lukes
Some sounds obviously never get old, and power metal is one of those genres which shows no sign, at least in Germany, of ever sounding outdated to certain ears. So it’s no surprise that Teutonic stalwarts Primal Fear yell with as much irony-free conviction as is humanly possible that “Metal is for-Evaaah!” on, ahem, opening track “Metal Is Forever.” Featuring a former Gamma Ray frontman as well as an ex-Annihilator drummer, Primal Fear have been amongst the most dependable when it comes to the kind of power metal that kept many thousands sane while Blaze and Ripper fronted Maiden and Priest, respectively, rarely spilling into Stratovarius-style pomp or falling off that tight-rope which divides metal you can headbang to with some dignity left intact and total, full-on Europe-esque cheese.
Sixth album Devil’s Ground is certainly as good as anything Primal Fear have put out, and whilst there’s no – God forbid – masterpiece of uniqueness or individuality, it still manages to hit the right buttons if it’s delicately squalling lead guitars, Maiden-style ceremony, and grandeur or twitching, galloping guitar chug that floats your boat. Sometimes, as on the brooding “Sea of Flames,” they even threaten to get heavy, with no small reward involved, and whilst we could (always) do without such descents into sentimental cod-balladry as “The Healer,” this album is fortunately stronger on the simple matter of more beef than most. Put simply, another unchallenging slice of classic power metal for the eternally undemanding and/or nostalgic for the 1980s.