Guests: Alex Beyrodt/Kai Hansen/Victor Smolski/Mike Chlasciak (lead guitar), Sander Gommans (rhythm guitar), Tim Ripper Owens (lead vocals)
Ralf Scheepers, the lead singer of Primal Fear, is making his solo debut in February 2011. He has been known to the Heavy Metal fans for almost three decades now, recording three albums with Tyran`Pace in the eighties, followed by three albums with Gamma Ray. Ralf has always been a talented and highly respected singer in the Metal scene and was close to get the job as Judas Priest's lead singer, following the departure of Rob Halford in the nineties. He ended up starting Primal Fear with Mat Sinner, among others, and ever since 1997 he stayed with that band, recording eight full length albums and two live albums.
What can we now expect from his solo debut? Is this record all Primal Fear or will it be different?
The album opener, Locked In The Dungeon, is a typical fast Primal Fear track, with high pitched vocals and heavy riffs. The riffs and the pounding of drums are consistant through the next couple of songs, until we get to the fifth track, Doomsday, where the album suddenly slows down a bit, which is good to make this album a little more diverse and not just a bonebreaking fast Heavy Metal album all through. Doomsday is followed by a re-recorded Tyran`Pace track called Saints Of Rock. The original version of this song used to be my favorite Tyran`Pace song and still is, but now Scheepers even made it sound better, with the help of new techniques.
Ralf Scheepers has been compared to Rob Halford several times through his career and now these comparisons will be even stronger when a cover version of Judas Priest's Before The Dawn is one of the tracks. The acoustic guitar on this song is played by Ralf himself and the singing style on this song is Ralf's own making. Cover versions are usually not as good as the originals and this is no exception. This song was meant to have a sad sound, but with the techniques nowadays, it's performed without that special feeling that Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing had back in 1978 on the Hell Bent For Leather/Killing Machine album.
With the track The Pain Of The Accused Ralf gets that feeling back in his voice, which he is so well known for. There's a clear difference hearing him sing a song that was made for him. The Primal Fear track # 1 on this album is Play With Fire. One of the best songs on the album and it would have made the cut on any Primal Fear record. The album closer, Compassion, is a nice little ballad that probably means more to Ralf than to the listeners.
We get a few guest appearances on Scheepers too. A couple of lead guitarists set their mark on this album, but the highlight is the duet with lead singer Tim Ripper Owens on Remission Of Sin.
So is this all a Primal Fear record or is it different? I would say that we end up somewhere in between, just as I expected. The first 4 songs sounds a lot like Primal Fear, but then the album gets a different touch. It's a good album, but nothing extraordinary, and if you're a fan of Primal Fear you should definitely buy this album.
with Ralf Scheepers