Metal Mixtape – 1/25/09

Tale Of The Tape:
Dell DJ 30 (1st Gen)
4482 songs (387 albums)

I’ve got the MP3 player shuffling as I’m creating a new master list for my CD collection so here’s the first 20 songs that have come up (band-song-year)…..

  1. Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Bad Times’ (1980)
  2. KISS – ‘Hard Luck Woman’ (1976)
  3. Icarus Witch – ‘Mirror Mirror’ (2007)
  4. Iron Maiden – ‘Man On The Edge’ (1995)
  5. Def Leppard – ‘Bad Actress’ (2008)
  6. Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’ (1970)
  7. Scorpions – ‘Obsession’ (1999)
  8. Daylight Dies – ‘A Portait In White’ (2008)
  9. Iron Maiden – ‘Remember Tomorrow’ (1980)
  10. Dio – ‘Straight Through The Heart’ (1983)
  11. Quiet Riot – ‘Overworked And Underpaid’ (1999)
  12. Primal Fear – ‘Fighting The Darkness’ (2007)
  13. Q5 – “Our Love Has Come And Gone’ (1984)
  14. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – ‘Burn’ (1988)
  15. KISS – ‘The Oath’ (1981)
  16. Westworld – ‘Bring The Water To Me’ (1999)
  17. Running Wild – “The Poison’ (1998)
  18. Girlschool – ‘Metropolis’ (2008)
  19. Rainbow – ‘Street Of Dreams’ (1983)
  20. Black Sabbath – ‘Die Young’ (1980)

Bonus Track: Saxon – ‘Forever Free’ (1993)

Primal Fear – New Religion (2007)

Primal Fear - New Religion (2007)

Primal Fear – New Religion (2007, Frontiers Records)

  1. Sign Of Fear
  2. Face The Emptiness
  3. Everytime It Rains
  4. New Religion
  5. Fighting The Darkness
  6. The Darkness
  7. Reprise
  8. Blood On Your Hands
  9. The Curse Of Sharon
  10. Too Much Time
  11. Psycho
  12. World On Fire
  13. The Man (That I Don’t Know)
  14. Fighting The Darkness* (videoclip)
  15. Sign Of Fear* (videoclip)


Band Lineup:
Ralf Scheepers – Lead Vocals
Mat Sinner – Bass, Orchestra Arrangements, & Vocals
Stefan Liebig – Guitars
Henny Wolter – Guitars
Randy Black – Drums

Guest Musicians:
Simone Simons – Vocals
Matz Ulmer – Keyboards, Orchestra Arrangements
Magnus Karlsson – Guitars
Tobias Lundgren – Backing Vocals
Ronny Millianowicz – Loops & Support

Producer: Mat Sinner

Total Time – 53:53

Primal Fear official website
Primal Fear MySpace page

If you’ve read this blog over the last couple of years, then you’ll know I’m a big Power Metal guy. There are many really great bands out there carrying the torch for Power Metal like Hammerfall, Gamma Ray, and Primal Fear. In 1998, I picked up the debut and loved it because it sounded so close to Judas Priest thanks to Ralf Scheepers’ almost clone-like imitation of the Metal God himself, Rob Halford. I say it everytime I write anything on Primal Fear: “How did Ralf Scheepers NOT get the Judas Priest job?”. Sure he sounds almost exactly like Halford but is that a bad thing? That just means Scheepers is one of the best singers in Metal. What I like most about the band’s performance on NEW RELIGION is that they are starting to diversify their sound with more melody, orchestral arrangements, and keyboards while retaining their Power Metal roots.

‘Sign Of Fear’ starts the record off with a Metal feast that sounds like it came from Judas Priest. Ralf sounds like classic Halford almost exactly but that’s still a good thing, he hits all the highs with relative ease and brings the vocals down for the chorus. The guitars blaze and Randy Black pounds the kit. The start of the new sound is evident on ‘Face The Emptiness’ with the orchestral/symphonic music supplementing the band. Again, is it Halford on the mic? It’s eerie that there is such an exact sound. The song is fast and is very heavy but it sounds richer, fuller.

Simone Simons (Epica) guests on lead vocals with Scheepers on ‘Everytime It Rains’, a heavy ballad full of keyboards and symphonics. The band is experimenting with a sound that is popular right now with bands like After Forever and Lacuna Coil but it’s not Primal Fear’s core sound, that’s why it works. Probably my favorite of the album. ‘New Religion’ kicks things into high gear again with simple main riff and straight forward approach. The harmonies and melody in the chorus are really good and the solos are on fire.

‘Fighting The Darkness’, ‘The Darkness’, and ‘Reprise’ are three songs blended into one epic piece that really encompasses everything the band is trying to accomplish on this record. Speed, melody, keyboards, orchestras, harmonies, great guitar solos, and superb powerful vocals. This is the masterpiece of the album without a doubt, this is the sound that will make Primal Fear the Power Metal leader now and in the future. The blending of styles, speed, and sound is just superb and makes the song sound grand and majestic. Another favorite of mine.

‘Blood On Your Hands’ picks the pace up again and seems similar to ‘Sign Of Fear’. Scheepers sounds different while employing a grittier vocal, less highs up front but you can hear them in the background. ‘The Curse Of Sharon’ surprised me a little bit because it sounds very melodic but still very heavy. I think the title threw me off a little because I expected a faster song. It’s actually an uptempo track with a break in the middle that slows things down for a minute and builds back up. Another grittier vocal staying away from the Halford-isms and another favorite of mine.

Back to the basics for ‘Too Much Time’, the band goes back to the tried and true Power Metal form with a chugging main guitar and soaring vocals. A big riff and ballsy bass line opens ‘Psycho’ and this song just crushes! ‘Psycho’ isn’t as fast as some of the other songs but it has that Heavy Metal crunch and a thick solo. Things pick up again with ‘World On Fire’ as the drums really drive the song and the keyboards supplement the sound. ‘The Man (That I Don’t Know)’ is ballad number two and it’s probably the weakest song for me on the album. There are keyboards and the orchestra supplementing the overall sound but it sounds to overblown come the chorus. This is also the best Halford that Scheepers can do. I think it’s just out of place ending the album and it’s a notch below ‘Fighting The Darkness’ and ‘Everytime It Rains’. I do like the guitars at the end, very nice.

Bottom Line:
The comparisons to Judas Priest will always be there but Primal Fear is experimenting and adding to their overall sound, giving them more separation. There is enough traditional Power Metal for the purists and enough symphonic/orchestral numbers to enhance the sound. I think Primal Fear has taken the lead in the Power Metal race from Hammerfall and has shown that there is room to grow and explore in this well defined genre. Favorite songs here: ‘Everytime It Rains’, ‘Fighting The Darkness’ trilogy, ‘The Curse Of Sharon’, and ‘Sign Of Fear’. I like the whole album, even ‘The Man (That I Don’t Know)’, there isn’t a bad song here.

NEW RELIGION made my Top 15 Albums of 2007, coming in at #6.

The Top 15 Albums of 2007

It’s been another solid year for new releases, hundreds of bands released new albums in 2007 and it’s been very hard to keep up. I missed out on many new releases in many different genres because I spend my hard earned money. That money I put aside for my music fix has to be spent wisely and some bands/albums just fall through the cracks. I’ve started to get the attention of some labels and distributors so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to review more new releases in 2008.

Another factor is availability. Today anything can be bought online but the prices can be too high, sometimes it’s better to save a few dollars by holding off on a European or Japanese import and waiting for the U.S. release. In a few of those cases, some albums released around the world in 2007 won’t be released properly in the U.S. until early 2008 (Night Ranger, Airbourne, Primal Fear).

Looking back on 2007, I noticed that some bands got more of my attention than others and I picked up a lot of new releases from 2006 that I had missed. I only expect more of the same as my Want List grows and my musical tastes expand. The only criteria I followed for my Top 15 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. So here it is, my Top 15 Albums of 2007:


Scorpions - Humanity Hour 1 (2007)Scorpions – Humanity Hour 1

The surprise of the year! The Scorpions experimented enough over the last few years but they planted the seeds with 2004’s UNBREAKABLE for a major comeback, not that they ever went away. I admit that I was apprehensive when I found out Pop Rock guru Desmond Child was aboard but the relationship produced a solid Hard Rock album full of melody, emotion, and attitude. This album has remained in my playlist rotation since it’s release and I haven’t tired of it yet, that’s the mark of a great album. I missed the band when they came to Boston this past Fall but their is a rumored tour with Judas Priest in 2008, that will make HUMANITY HOUR 1 even better. Another surprise was the advertised price ($7.99 at Best Buy) and the exclusive bonus track ‘Cold’. A great album AND value!


Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life (2007)Joe Lynn Turner – Second Hand Life

Very close to being my #1 album of 2007. So close in fact that I’ve had to listen to this and the Scorpions more in the last week to make the final decision. All the songs are strong and the music is a pure blend of classic AOR and Melodic Hard Rock. The songwriting is intelligent and emotional and the vocals are the best I’ve heard in 2007, JLT is in fine voice, probably the strongest of his career…..he just sounds so smooth, so effortless in his delivery. There were also a couple of Rainbow influences that gave the album a classic sound without sounding dated. Like the Scorpions album, there was a lot of value: the U.S. release on Friday Music was $12.99 and included an exclusive track (‘Freedom’s Wings’) and all the European and Japanese bonus tracks.


Saxon - The Inner SanctumSaxon – The Inner Sanctum

THE INNER SANCTUM was the album of the year for me until the Scorpions and JLT released their albums. Saxon are one of my favorite bands and they have consistently produced great albums since the late ’90s, this record is no exception. Saxon blends their current approach of blazing fast Power Metal with their NWOBHM roots and creates an album of ten really great songs. Saxon are elder statesmen in the realm of Heavy Metal but they do things better than many of the younger bands. The focus is on the songwriting and then translating it to the live show. Every one of these songs could be played alongside the classics, that’s how strong they are. Add the bonus DVD to the studio album and it turns into a great package, also one of my favorite album covers of the year.


Great White - Back To The Rhythm (2007)Great White – Back To The Rhythm

A successful comeback by a band no one expected to do anything. After all that has happened, did anyone think that Great White would actually make an album? They did and they made a great Blues based Hard Rock record. Getting the classic lineup back together rejuvenated the writing and getting singer Jack Russell sober made all the difference as he put in probably the best vocal performance of his career.


Icarus Witch - Songs For The Lost (2007)Icarus Witch – Songs For The Lost

One of the best new bands out there playing a cross between NWOBHM and Traditional Metal. This is their second album and it doesn’t suffer from the “sophomore jinx”, this is a solid slab of straight up Heavy Metal. I even like the cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Mirror Mirror’! A band worth watching for the future.


Primal Fear - New Religion (2007)Primal Fear – New Religion

Primal Fear just make good Heavy Metal records…..period. NEW RELIGION has a bit more melody and harmony within the power of their Metal assault, making the album more accessible and diverse. Everytime I hear a new Primal Fear record, I always wonder how vocalist Ralf Scheepers lost the Judas Priest gig to Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. Ralf has grown from being complete Halford clone to being one of the best Metal singers alive. Had to pick this up on import in September, the U.S. release is January 2008.


Airbourne - Runnin’ Wild (2007)Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild

I bought into all the hype and rave reviews and I picked this up very late in the year. I was skeptical because I had heard only two songs and I wondered if AC/DC clones could produce a strong album. Everyone likes AC/DC, and with them out of the picture for now, Airbourne has picked up where Angus & company left off. It’s simple bluesy Hard Rock like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and The Angels but with a youthful energy built for party Rock. Had to get this one on import late in the year also because their U.S. distribution starts in January 2008.


3 Inches Of Blood - Fire Up The Blades (2007)3 Inches Of Blood – Fire Up The Blades

A big thanks to a loyal reader, and devout Metalhead, Rene for pushing me to check out this band. Good thing I listened because 3 Inches Of Blood is a great young band that blends many different styles of Metal into their overall sound. Cam Pipes is one of the better Metal vocalists that can incorporate clean/traditional singing with growls. grunts, and groans. Another young band making their mark.


Ted Nugent - Love Grenade (2007)Ted Nugent – Love Grenade

Terrible Ted came roaring from the woods to deliver his best album in years. Continuing with his gonzo attitude and hunter instinct, Ted took his love of the Blues, added his Hard Rock blend and tongue-in-cheek humor, and built the LOVE GRENADE. Jack Blades’ (Night Ranger/Damn Yankees) produces and co-writes here and does a spectacular job at getting the best from the Nuge. One listen to ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ and ‘Funk U’ and you’ll understand.


Kamelot - Ghost Opera (2007)Kamelot – Ghost Opera

Another end of the year addition and it’s a shame I waited so long, it’s a good album. A little more Progressive and Symphonic than their past Power Metal style but still good. Kamelot proves that heavy music can be intricate and diverse while retaining the power…..I really dig the orchestration and strings and the lush backgrounds. Is Roy Khan one of the most underrated singers in Metal or what? Added value to this one is the bonus DVD on the limited edition.


Megadeth - United Abominations (2007)Megadeth – United Abominations

At first, I wasn’t excited or impressed, Megadeth hadn’t regained my trust from 1999’s RISK debacle even though there had been two decent studio releases since. It wasn’t until mid-May when I saw Megadeth open for Heaven & Hell that I stood up and took notice. It’s having classic Megadeth back with Dave Mustaine more focused than ever.


Helloween - Gambling With The Devil (2007)Helloween – Gambling With The Devil

Helloween were kind of put in the same category as Megadeth because I just couldn’t get into their last two albums: RABBIT DON’T COME EASY (2003) & KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS – THE LEGACY (2005). There was too much experimentation and enhancements on those records while the band tried to regain their signature sound and promised fans such. This album was more straight ahead Power Metal that Helloween is known for. Andi Deris puts in a spectacular performance and the band has shown that all the lineup changes of recent years hasn’t disrupted their core.


Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1) (2007)Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1)

Hard to believe that this is only Iced Earth’s third album since 1998’s masterpiece SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. It’s also hard to believe that after releasing two very spotty concept records, the band would come roaring back to form with another concept album based on the SOMETHING WICKED theme. Unfortunately, recent lineup changes (Owens out, Barlow back in) and some late year additions to my collection have pushed this album down the list, I had it Top 10 easily up until the last couple of weeks.


Endeverafter - Kiss Or Kill (2007)Endeverafter – Kiss Or Kill

Endeverafter came out of nowhere to deliver solid party time Hard Rock. A blend of classic L.A. Hard Rock with today’s edge, I couldn’t find a bad song. I’d like to hear how the do on their next record.


Masterplan - MK II (2007)Masterplan – MK II

I’ve had this CD since early April and I’m still enjoying it. Unfortunately, it ranks a little lower due to my getting used to Mike DiMeo replacing Jorn Lande at the mic and the fact that many top bands released excellent albums later in the year. Really good Power/Progressive Metal here, hopefully the lineup stays stable.

In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2007:


Bring Back Glam

Hard Rock Hideout

Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes

Layla’s Classic Rock Faves

The Metal Minute

Raise Your Fists

Rock & Roll And Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages (Dave’s Best of 2007)

Rock Of Ages (Bill’s Best of 2007)