Jaws of Death
“Nothing actually ever goes ‘out of style’,” “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” etc., etc., blah, blah, blah: Any tired cliché you want to brandish, power metal is back in a big, big way. However, it never really went away per se — just a bit underground, at least in America. But during the past few years in Europe (namely Germany), the genre experienced a full-fledged resurgence courtesy of Hammerfall, Gamma Ray, and, most recently, Primal Fear. Whether power metal remains the darling of discriminating metalheads’ tastes, it matters not: With records as duck’s-ass-tight as Primal Fear’s Jaws of Death , the genre is destined to remain in the metalgentsia consciousness for eternity.
As much of a throwback to the glory days of Helloween and Judas Priest as it is a verbatim blueprint for new millennium power metal, Jaws of Death , Primal Fear’s second album, above all seethes with power overload (hey, it’s not called “power metal” fer nuthin’). The dual-guitar attack of Tom Naumann and Stefan Leibing is the most pronounced element of this overload, both axeslingers weaving crunchy, intricate webs that nonetheless remain the essence of thoughtful accessibility. The rhythm section ain’t no slouch either; Mat Sinner (bass) and Klaus Sperling (drums) punch out fist-pumping mid-tempos and galloping fast ones alike, again, with power oozing out of any speed the band chooses for its dynamic. And then there’s vocalist Ralf Scheepers, former frontman of the insurmountable Gamma Ray, who can belt out a sinister snarl and a soaring soprano; commendably, his lyrics balance the political (“Church of Blood,” “Fight to Survive”) with the personal (“When the Night Comes,” “Under Your Spell”).
So, all things above considered, Jaws of Death rips like few other power metal records have during The Boom; as it stands right now, only Steel Prophet’s Dark Hallucinations gives it any — although very serious — competition for the genre’s album of the year. Though the band’s self-titled debut album went virtually unnoticed stateside, Primal Fear now holds that proverbial ball in its court, where conquest should be inevitable. Now if America only had its own Dynamos and Wacken Open Airs (sigh…).
Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com