On June 1, 2016, The Mod Club in Toronto was invaded by Germans with the help of local promotion company Inertia Entertainment. The double headlining bill featured Primal Fear and Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody as well as local band Vesperia to set the stage, but really it’s Primal Fear that drew Decibel Geeks Brian Ronald, Shawn “Animalize” Irwin and Rich “The Meister” Dillon to the event, so we’ll just concentrate on that.
The stage lights dimmed signifying the coming German onslaught as the crowd chanted along with the intro music and the band took their positions around the Mod Club stage. Vocalist Ralf Scheepers, sporting a chin-strap style beard, was the last member to take the stage preceded by a blood curdling “Halford-like” screech as Primal Fear exploded into “Final Embrace”. From there the Primal Fear freight train kept smashing through into a sure-fire mantra of my life “In Metal We Trust”. The barrage of riffage continued with “Angel in Black” followed by the title track off the new album, “Rulebreaker”. Primal Fear‘s Delivering the Black album from 2013 was simply fantastic, a meaty slab of German power metal that hit my top spot on album of the year and Rulebreaker could well vie for top seed again this year, the track “The End is Near” leading the charge. After a quick crowd address by Scheepers, the band ripped open “Sign of Fear” followed by another crowd address before “The Sky is Burning”. I studied the band noting that Ralf was a big man with thick arms, a shiny bald cranium and the Primal Fear logo tattooed on his left bicep, he looks like he could invoke a deep down primal fear if you came across him in a dark alleyway. Bassist and co-founder along with Scheepers, Mat Sinner, a little shorter in stature and stockier had flowing blonde locks while guitarist Alex Beyrodt appeared to be quite a bit smaller than his band mates. Tom Naumann sported shorter spiky blonde hair and Francesco Jovino was near totally encased behind his drum kit and not much could be seen, at least from my vantage point. “Nuclear Fire” saw Ralf channeling his guitarists like a snake charmer and “Angel of Mercy” led straight into my choice for the top cut on Rulebreaker, “The End is Near”. The song saw Ralf leading the crowd in a charging fist pump and the chunky power metal riffs were so thick you had to swat them away. The epic “When Death Comes Knocking” took its turn next which melded right into “Chainbreaker”. The crowd was chanting “Primal Fear, Primal Fear” as we were told that this was the final show of the 28 in the North American leg and the band and crew were announced and recognized by name. The riffs again attacked like a swarm of locust during a personal Brian Ronald favorite, “Metal Is Forever” purported to be the final song. Of course, it was not the end and the boys returned to the stage for a one-two punch encore of “Rollercoaster” and “Running in the Dust” to close out a wicked night of German power metal.
A crime if ever there was one, Primal Fear has unfortunately not enjoyed the same successes here in North America that they receive in the European markets, but there was certainly a contingent of obviously rabid Primal Fear fans in attendance tonight. The only disappointing thing about the whole affair was the lack of Primal Fear merchandise (apparently all bought out by Cleveland last night according to Sinner‘s stage banter).