Primal Fear – Code Red
Released: September 1st, 2023
Ralf Scheepers | Vocals
Mat Sinner | Bass & Vocals
Tom Naumann | Guitars
Alexander Beyrodt | Guitars
Magnus Karlsson | Guitars
Michael Ehré | Drums
Primal Fear online:
Power Metal is often a very controversial genre, given that it can often devolve into deep self-parody. Actually, while doing this review I got the idea to type in ‘worst power metal video’ into YouTube and landed with well over a handful of terrible (yet hilarious) bands.
The reason for that is the subject matter often covered – drawing upon D&D, fantasy novels and the like, it’s no wonder a lot of the genre is often broadly mocked for its geekier nature. However, to be fair, when Power Metal steps away from that, it often results in a much better experience. Sabaton, for example, draws from history for lyrical content and has proven a band to be reckoned with on the world stage. The other obvious example is Dragonforce, who just embraced the campiness of their style and have since gone on to be fan favourites in the metal world.
A lot of the better Power Metal, in my opinion, seems to originate from Germany, with bands from that area steering clear of the fantasy stuff, instead opting for broader subject matter while keeping their musicality in A-grade form.
This is where Primal Fear comes in with album number thirteen under their belts, Code Red, an album that has a few patches where it straddles the ‘campy’ territory, but those are overshadowed by constant moments of metal brilliance. While mostly in the ‘Power Metal’ area, the band draws from a few other metal genres such as Thrash which helps keep the album rolling along nicely.
The opening track ‘Another Hero’ is a great starter, with a riff right out of the gate that you can’t help but bang your head to, and that pace continues on ‘Bring That Noise’ establishing Code Red as an album designed to be cranked. That’s backed up with some stellar guitar work from Primal Fear’s three (that’s right, three) exceptionally competent axemen, Tom Naumann, Alexander Beyrodt and Magnus Karlsson.
You would think three guitarists would overcrowd a metal album, yet the guitars are super clear and heavy. Main riffs like on ‘Deep In The Night’ sound huge and heavy, but are also dynamic with quieter passages that give the songs some room to breathe. The solos are traded off among each other with ease,
Vocalist Ralf Scheepers is right up the front of the mix with some killer pipes and catchy hooks, thanks to Primal Fear’s bass man, album producer and main lyricist Mat Sinner, who draws on more modern topics rather than the tropes of the genre.
‘Cancel Culture’ is a pulsing song that has a dig at Twitter culture, and the orchestral work coupled with some epic solo passages is actually a stand-out track of the album. The band keeps things rolling along with the driving ‘Play A Song,’ which has a classic heavy metal vibe in its main section.
Code Red’s main theme of urgency is best captured in ‘The World Is One Fire,’ highlighting the band’s overall dismay at the current state of world events (We set the world on fire/Code Red for Freedom,) likewise for the brooding ‘Their Gods Have Failed’ which is one of the lengthier ‘ballads’ (loosely called) of the album.
The back end of the album just keeps those sledgehammer riffs coming, but still packs some memorable metal hooks on ‘Steelmelter’ and ‘Raged By Pain.’ The band is kept tight with drummer Michael Ehré serving as that steel rod that keeps everything locked in sync. We’re treated to one more ballad in the form of ‘Forever,’ before Primal Fear brings it all home with the closing song ‘Fearless,’ leaving the German band’s mark on the metal world with a powerful record that is aggressive in its overall delivery.
Code Red is a cracking good metal album, with moments that will fill the boots of the seasoned metalhead who likes their riffs loud and heavy, while also being accessible to those new to the Primal Fear universe (such as myself,) leaving them keen to discover the rest of their discography.
Primal Fear – Code Red Tracklisting:
1. Another Hero
2. Bring That Noise
3. Deep In The Night
4. Cancel Culture
5. Play A Song
6. The World Is On Fire
7. Their Gods Have Failed
9. Raged By Pain