Words: Lewis Allan
Photos: Dylan Martin
Two years after their debut Australian performance in which they played much smaller venues – with the previous Melbourne show being held at the Northcote Social Club – German Power Metal legends Primal Fear returned to our shores for a dual celebration of their new album ‘Apocalypse,’ and the 20th anniversary of the band. Joining them on the tour for the first time in Australia were Sinner, with whom Primal Fear share several members, including founding members Mat Sinner and Tom Naumann, and drummer Francesco Jovino.
Opening the night however were Melbournites Horizons Edge. Horizons Edge took to the Max Watt’s stage with aplomb, immediately owning the space with their high energy and the charismatic presence of frontwoman Kat Sproule. Sproule prowls the stage throughout her performances, engaging with the audience with a smile or flash of her eyes. Alongside her powerful delivery, two members of the band who truly stand out are guitarists Eddy Grosso and Josh Ristrom. These two are the power behind the throne, keeping up the high-octane riffs and solos throughout the set so there is never even the shadow of a dull moment. A testament to the pace of the performance, Horizons Edge’s set flew by, leaving the crowd charged up and ready for Sinner.
It was a somewhat curious experience to see Primal Fear bassist and backing vocalist Sinner take to the stage as frontman, but within the first few bars it was clear he belonged in the spotlight. Sinner’s vocal delivery sits somewhere between the classic Metal feel of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, and the more contemporary aggression of Russell Allen of Symphony X. This was a very powerful blend to sit with the classic Heavy Metal feel of Sinner, who released their debut album back in 1982. As such, their music is heavily influenced by the heavy sounds of the 70s and 80s, and this is something they have faithfully maintained even in their latest release, 2017’s ‘Tequila Suicide.’
From the moment Sinner hit the stage, one thing was abundantly clear – the band were having an incredible time. There was a sense of absolute elation in watching the band perform and interact with each other. The smile never left guitarist Naumann’s face, and he was often seen laughing at the antics of Sinner or fellow guitarist Alex Scholpp, of Tarja Turunen’s solo band. The performer who truly stood out however was Eternal Idol vocalist Giorgia Colleluori. At first seeming to be wasted on backing vocals – and relegated to performing behind a makeshift bar, no less – when Colleluori emerged to take the lead on the first of three songs where she did so, she absolutely took the stage by storm. Colleluori’s vocals were up there with Metal queen Doro Pesch in power and delivery, and her engaging persona easily stood alongside frontman Sinner. Indeed, for anyone not familiar with Eternal Idol, Colleluori no doubt would have been the big discovery of the night, and any future appearances by her on our shores will no doubt be eagerly anticipated.
Speaking of eager anticipation, though Sinner went down an absolute treat, the act most would have been waiting for of course was Primal Fear. Consummate performers, Sinner, Naumann and Jovino powered through their second set of the night with no hint of fatigue. Ralf Scheepers’ entrance to the stage was a veritable explosion of vocal strength and acrobatics, with the high notes coming thick and fast. With a new album to celebrate, Primal Fear naturally leaned towards tracks from ‘Apocalypse,’ these making up five of the fifteen songs they played, plus the intro. Of these new songs, the standout was perhaps the heaviest of the five, Hounds of Justice. With deep, chunky riffs and moody red lighting, this was an impressive part of the show. Again, Naumann’s exultation was clear to see, this time alongside Primal Fear partner in crime, Alex Beyrodt.
Scheepers showed himself to be a big fan of audience participation, keeping the crowd energy levels high with clapping and singing along. Another high point of the night was ‘Rulebreaker’ single The End is Near, arguably displaying the strongest vocal performance from Scheepers for the evening, and drawn out as he toyed with the audience in the call and response of, “Do you wanna die?” “The end is near!”
Regrettably the end was near, but Primal Fear weren’t quite done yet. When Death Comes Knocking was as climactic and emotive as ever, before the main set was finished with the perfectly appropriate message of Metal is Forever. The band didn’t leave the stage for long of course, as they did have an encore to play, after all. Primal Fear made it count, with the first encore song being a very satisfying performance of the three-part Fighting the Darkness, allowing the audience to bask not only in Scheepers’ stirring vocals, but the virtuosic prowess of Naumann and Beyrodt with the instrumental section, The Darkness.
Finally, being one of those Metal bands who sing songs about Metal – and in this case, do it well – Primal Fear rounded out the night with In Metal we Trust. And what more needs to be said?
When it comes to a blend of classic Heavy Metal and more modern Power Metal, one could scarcely have asked for a better line-up than Primal Fear, Sinner and Horizons Edge. The sheer energy of the performance filled Max Watt’s and then some. Having played to such a welcoming crowd, and one who kept giving back the energy throughout the night, one can hope that this will not be the last we’ve seen of Primal Fear or Sinner.
Primal Fear setlist
Blood, Sweat & Fear
Face the Emptiness
Hounds of Justice
Under your Spell
Eye of the Storm
King of Madness
The End is Near
When Death Comes Knocking
Metal is Forever
Fighting the Darkness
In Metal we Trust