Up until this point, Germany's PRIMAL FEAR have almost (but not quite) appeared as foolhardy and out-of-touch as fancy-dressing fellow countrymen RUNNING WILD — selling themselves on a truckload of pub metal riffs, with their sole redeeming factor standing tall at the front of the stage in the shape of former GAMMA RAY warbler Ralf Scheepers, who is big, brash, bald and butch and can at the least part your eyebrows with his vocal thrust.Five albums in, however, and PRIMAL FEAR have just decided to start writing songs. Now, if only they could've seen their way to filling up "Devil's Ground" with plenty of decent ones instead of only part-finishing the job, we'd all be happy. Opener "Metal Is Forever" is the very worst thing that you want to be faced with first off: yet another generic — and dare we say retarded — slab of cabaret that trumpets the glory of metal with a raised fist and slack jaw. As a priority cut from the album, it's destined to be plastered all over metal video shows and the like, especially in PRIMAL FEAR's homeland. But that doesn't make it good. You don't expect complex high art from acts like PRIMAL FEAR, but neither does yet another sub-MANOWAR dirge really do anything except insult the intelligence. If there is anything positive to be gleaned from it, then it's the scary reality that the other dunderhead "anthem" on here, "In Metal", is even more creatively devoid. These abominations are made all the more execrable when you consider that PRIMAL FEAR are now, when they put their minds to it, capable of constructing some catchy, considered stuff. Take the textured "Visions Of Fate", with a chorus melody in the mould of QUEENSRŸCHE's "Another Rainy Night (Without You)" and cool, dexterous guitar solo work courtesy of Tom Naumann and Stefan Liebing. "The Healer" demonstrates the art of building to a chorus crescendo even better, and as such is a far better representation should PRIMAL FEAR wish to move away from overdone cliché anytime soon. And unless they're merely content to make a name on fist-banging parody alone, bearing in mind the promise they're now showing, it's something they really need to do.
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