I guess everyone realises they are getting old in a different way, for me it was three-fold.

  1. Appetite For Destruction celebrated it’s 30th anniversary

2. The football team I support gave a debut to a lad who’s dad I remember playing his first game too

3. Modern music became a bit weird and scary

I’ve done this website for almost four years and in that time I’ve reviewed about 1000 albums. Somewhere along the line I sort of realised that I wasn’t all that keen on being shouted and growled at by a load of kids in skinny jeans.

That posed me a problem, though. Because I love heavy metal and Maiden, Priest and Saxon are – like me – not getting any younger and Sabbath have already called it a day (I remain humbled beyond measure that I was there when they did).

Thank goodness, then that help is at hand. Because, there are plenty of young bands who are picking up the denim and leather cudgels, and some of the not quite so old guard are making awesome records.

Dee Snider last week, as we chirruped on here had rather surprisingly stuck his head above the parapet to release a masterpiece, Schenker, Graham Bonnet too, have both stuck out crackers this year and now Bonnet’s label mates Primal Fear have done likewise – and in all seriousness have possibly topped the lot.

The band formed by Ralf Scheepers and Mat Sinner when Gamma Ray went tits up is now – staggeringly – 21 years old and 11 albums in, but it is highly doubtful they have ever sounded this good.

It is crystal clear that this is pretty special from the opening intro of “Apocalypse” . Without even saying a word they have constructed something that is as metal as Steve Harris’ Jockstrap, so imagine what it is like when Scheepers roars into action as he does on the astonishing “New Rise”. Nothing more, nothing less than unapologetic barking at the moon you can dissect it is much you like and you will still come back to the point that this is the way metal should sound.

“Ritual” has a riff heavier than a bulldozer, Tom Naumann and Alex Beyrodt are as good a pairing as there is on this evidence, and the Iced Earth stylings of “King Of Madness” are just superb.

Allegedly the band formed after Scheepers was overlooked for the Priest job when Halford went, and with the greatest respect to Ripper Owens listen to “Blood, Sweat and Fear” and you’d wonder why.

“Apocalypse” is far more than a one trick pony, though. “Supernova” is led by some neat orchestration, and you’d sort of call it ballad, except PF don’t mess with ballads and this soars, while those who are waiting for a Maiden style gallop will be thrilled with “Hail To The Fear” which gladly recalls their “Piece Of Mind” era just fine – albeit with drums that are mighty from Francesco Jovino and thousands of gleeful fists in the air.

“Hounds Of Justice” shows all the modern bands how it should be done, while “The Beast” strikes an ominous tone, but there is no doubt what this records centrepiece is. “Eyes Of The Storm” – all eight minutes of it – is simply glorious. A sort of epic take on Saxon if you will, it is exactly what heavy metal needs to be in 2018 but so seldom is.

A song called “Cannonball” on an album like this probably doesn’t need discussion, given that is gonna sound like it does, but there is a storm whipped up in them double kick drums and dammit, you ain’t gonna ignore it.

All of “Apocalypse” is thunderous, absolutely crushing stuff – and there ain’t a guttural vocal in sight. Nor is there anything approaching any of the usual whimsy here. This is metal not about dungeons and dragons but for those who keep dragons in their dungeon. And if this is getting old, then let’s get the horns up and do it like it’s the end of the world, shall we?

Rating 9/5/10


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