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Primal Fear: 16.6

Primal Fear: 16.6

Heavy/Power Metal
Rating: 4.5/5.0

As a long time fan of Primal Fear I have been most impressed by their most recent work. Not to diminish the quality of, say, Nuclear Fire or Black Sun, both excellent, but I think Seven Seals was totally engaging and brilliant. New Religion followed as another exciting feat. 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows Your Dead) finds Primal Fear visiting both past and present to deliver, quite possibly, their peak performance. Along the way to 16.6, Primal Fear managed to snag the completely enthralling Magnus Karlsson, one of my favorite metal guitarist and composers. (Maybe this accounts for my most positive bias!)

Primal Fear strengths have always been manifold: strong and varied melodic heavy metal compositions, sharp and stirring lead vocals and vocal arrangements, a steady rhythm section grounded by Matt Sinner, and ripping guitar solos. All the perfect ingredients to make a solid metal album. Allow me to cite some great examples of each element.

Regarding song composition, Primal Fear grips me when they imbue melodic heavy metal with strong rhythmic groove. 'Smith & Wesson,' 'Killbound,' and the hugely entertaining 'Six Times Dead' fall into this category. But they also tricked me up with the prog-like 'Black Rain' with it's mixture of movements and mid eastern guitar accents. Yet Primal Fear still can thrill with a basic heavy/power metal combination like 'Riding The Eagle' or 'Night After Night.'

Ralf Scheepers is one of the best metal vocalists on the scene (forget the comparisons to Halford). His vocals are always sharp, clear and a perfectly executed for the arrangement: forceful and harmonious on '16.6,' growling and fierce on 'Killbound,' or passionate and soaring on 'No Smoke Without a Fire.'

What can I say about Matt Sinner and Randy Black? Ever since Seven Seals I have been impressed by this duo. They do not disappoint here: together they kill on 'Six Times Dead' and 'Night After Night,' to name only two. Individually, check out their work on '5.0/Torn.' Additionally, to Sinner's credit, his lead vocals on the metal ballad 'Hands Of Time,' are truly amazing, as is the song!

Finally, I've already mentioned that I'm a huge fan of Magnus Karlsson, and his work throughout 16.6 is phenomenal. In tandem with the always reliable and creative Henny Wolter, Primal Fear is more formidable than ever with a twin guitar attack. Take note of the of the Eddie Van Halen-like intro of '5.0,' but also the fret work on 'Riding The Eagle,' 'The Exorcist,' and 'Black Rain.' Outstanding stuff.

Indeed, Primal Fear's eighth studio release, 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows Your Dead) finds the band in peak form offering another splendid platter of melodic heavy metal that is both engaging and creative. There's a lot to listen to here, but the rewards are worth it. Of recent works, Seven Seals is still my favorite, but this one is certainly growing on me. Highly recommended!

In Short

Indeed, Primal Fear's eighth studio release, 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows Your Dead) finds the band in peak form offering another splendid platter of melodic heavy metal that is both engaging and creative. There's a lot to listen to here, but the rewards are worth it. Of recent works, Seven Seals is still my favorite, but this one is certainly growing on me.

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