Recommended Aussie Tunes:Psycroptic | The new single "A Fragile Existence" | Listen

Album Reviews : Primal Fear – Rulebreaker

By on February 15, 2016

Primal Fear - RulebreakerI’m going to preface this review by saying that I haven’t listened to a lot of Primal Fear in the past. Not really because of any reason in particular, I had just never got around to them. But with their eleventh studio album, ‘Rulebreaker’, listening through this record proved an enlightening experience for me.

While most of this album is arguably standard fare when it comes to the power metal genre, what is undeniable is the emotional strength Primal Fear bring to the fore when it comes to the riffage, lyrics and overall song construction. This shows itself particularly on the tracks “We Walk Without Fear” and “The Devil In Me”. The choruses are infectious and recall almost Kiske-level heights at times, the riffs are majestic, and at times they open with these almost scenic melodic numbers that set you somewhere else that isn’t quite our world, yet always feels in arms reach of it. What makes itself known immediately with Primal Fear is how much they clearly been refining their craft over the years since their inception in 1997. While only half the band are original members, there’s a combined experience and expertise here that make Primal Fear work as a single, uncompromised unit. As an album, ‘Rulebreaker’ finds its footing early on and explodes from the speakers with unfettered might. Ralf Scheepers’ lead vocals are utterly engrossing across this record, and the triple guitar assault is handled brilliantly amongst the band, with the many welcomed solos ever a highlight. The drumming is also top-notch.

Similarly to HammerFall, nothing presented here is particularly groundbreaking per se, but it does recognise its strengths early on and plays to them to marvellous effect. The rhythms gallop on with songs like the title track, and hit brilliant highs with memorable and engaging choruses as on “Bullets & Tears”. This album never plods along, but instead moves with an enthusiastic and even pace. Every song almost pleads with you to just cut loose and bust out into headbanging and a spot of air guitar/drumming (whichever floats your boat in that moment). Even whilst reviewing this album, on more than one occasion I found myself bopping along in time to the music while writing.

But don’t be fooled either thinking it’s only catchy power metal numbers to fill your ears here. Primal Fear have certainly not lost their speed metal edge. The song “In Metal We Trust” is a prime example of this, and is further one of the most energetic and utterly enjoyable metal anthems I’ve heard – and this coming from someone who is quite the fan of the cheesy, ‘true metal’ bands like Majesty, Iron Fire, and Manowar. Bands that made a name for themselves performing this particular style of song. Yet still, tracks like “The Sky Is Burning” demonstrate Primal Fear’s ability to write compelling power ballads also. Few power metal bands I’ve listened to are able to make their power ballads fit in and feel as naturally organic to the album as Primal Fear do here with ‘Rulebreaker’.

‘Rulebreaker’ echoes the sound of a band who have been developing and growing their music and style for what is drawing close to two decades now. It is the sound of a band at their prime, a band producing music that is not only of the highest quality but music that further dares you not to enjoy it.


Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.