Artist: Primal Fear
Venue: Gramercy (New York, NY)
Opener: Desdemon, Havok
Label: Frontiers Records
In a historical sense in terms of the traditional Power Metal bands that tour around the world consistently and seldom get over to these shores, Primal Fear pretty much tops the list of those groups that you want to see making the US rounds a little more often than they do. Lucky for those supporters of the Heavy Metal way the band would arrive at long last back in September of 2009 and go over like gangbusters. I had missed that show based on familial commitments and was happy to find out that they would be returning without an incredibly long passage of time. As result, tonight’s show would be the second time in under a year that Primal Fear was making an appearance in New York City and this was welcome news to my ears since I could not enjoy them that last time. The interesting thing for me as a Metal fan is that while I have always seemed to enjoy what the band puts out musically, I was never much the hard core study or follower of their teachings outside of a couple of releases. My guess is that that was largely due to that briefly referenced fact about the band not getting over here all that much. Like many of the Metal shows these days, the event would be held at the Gramercy Theatre which is a medium sized venue that serves well depending on the artist. Opening the sure to be killer set by Primal Fear would be DesDemon and Havok. Here is how the night progressed.
DesDemon: I had caught this Yonkers based Power Metal band once before and I think it was in the not too distant past when both Korpiklaani and Tyr were making a visit to this very same venue as a part of a killer tour. They impressed me for an opener so it was with great pleasure I loaned some support to them again. Musically speaking they are a Melodic Power Metal band without any question in my humble opinion and are a female fronted one at that. Standing proudly at the microphone helm is Mistress Tina who can really belt out the tunes while off to her side is the giant of a guitarist Lord Metadox. The band has some solid riffs and good material but there is just a little something missing to me that keeps them from standing out proudly on their own against the ever-growing competition. Of course the band being an independent one needs to work all the more harder to say “hey, pay attention people” so I wish them well since the chance for greatness is possible. Their EP is entitled “The Awakening” and its some good stuff if you are into the whole female-fronted Metal band motif. My worry for them is now there are too many of these kinds of bands and with so much competition ahead of them the battle is that much harder. Good luck to all. Havok was up next and this would be my first time seeing them.
Havok: To some fans in the Metal Republic there is nothing quite like your Old School Traditional Thrash Metal outfit and depending upon who is dishing it out I can quite agree. These guys were new to my ears as I just mentioned and they are also relatively new to the Candlelight Records roster of artists. They were good players without question and the stuff they were doing was quite intense and heavy which is to be expected from a band of this kind, but I couldn’t help thinking of what a mismatch they were for the Primal Fear tour. Yes, perhaps they were added to mix it up, but honestly this kind of audience does not always seem all that receptive to different genre bands hitting the stage before the act that they are most interested in. With this being the case it seemed like the efforts of Havok were largely falling upon deaf or uninterested ears which was a shame since I felt they kicked some ass. They would fit in well with bands like Warbringer, Exodus or Kreator in terms of material and the audience that it attracts so one can only hope that they shall return and play for a crowd that gives more of a damn about the hard work they put into the craft. They seemed to play about thirty minutes which by the reception of this Primal Fear crowd was twenty minutes too long. Good job of course but better luck at winning a difficult audience over next time.
Primal Fear: It was finally time for the main event and Primal Fear was back again on no longer new ground in NYC for their followers. The excitement in the air was something that you could feel and many of the people were sporting band insignia shirts as they had seen them on that last go round. This evening was also exciting based on its being the kick off to this new North American tour and we don’t always find that taking place in The Big Apple so it was cool to have it be the case tonight. For those in the unaware, Primal Fear’s latest Metal opus is entitled “16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” and they would not only be celebrating that album tonight but also the soon to be released live CD aptly titled “Live In The USA”. When the lights went down the band hit the stage like a musical force to be reckoned with and that made sense given on how powerful their material is on record. Shortly after these first few notes played through the bands lead singer Ralf Scheepers walked onto the stage in a long black coat that showed his exposed and muscled chest off to the world. It was a commanding entrance and one suitable for Metal royalty which based on the level of power in his voice, is a title that he really deserves. If you are a fan of the soaring high register notes then you need to look no further than what Ralf brings to the table. So good is his voice it has been said that he was in the final running to replace Halford in Judas Priest before they chose to go with Tim “Ripper” Owens. Now where was I? Oh yes, the NYC show. The band has a twin lead guitar attack which is performed to perfection by Henry Wolter and Alex Beyrodt and these guys trade off blistering riff after riff to the audiences delight and this was evident from the opening number of “Final Embrace”.
Since I had only heard a choice amount from the newest album I was taking this all in as an exciting new experience for my Metal sensors. The last recordings I had heard from the band came via Nuclear Blast Records’ “Seven Seals” and Locomotive Records “New Religion”. Fortunately for me they would perform a couple of numbers from these two albums. Ralf would remove this heavy jacket that he entered the stage with after a couple of songs and show the audience that he is a very health conscious dude and keeps in solid shape. That’s a smart move given the rigors of road touring. “Six Times Dead” was rock solid and heavy and while there was little to complain about I cannot help but skip ahead to the bands delivery of the “almost ballad” of “Seven Seals” from the album of the same name as they brought out Sister Mary herself, the one and only Pamela Moore who so many people know from Queensryche’s “Mindcrime” shows and recordings. She looked and sounded great and offered the audience a wonderful treat. The bands rhythm section was top drawer and consists of bassist Mat Sinner (who also provides some great backing vocals) and drummer Randy Black who sounded like a machine gun at times with his footwork and snare drum attack. As the set continued we found Miss Moore returning to the stage once again to join the band in “Fighting The Darkness”. She clearly has a voice and perfect presence for a Metal band and I think based on the reception she got that she should start touring on her own with some killer backing musicians. The song was also dedicated to the memory of the late Ronnie James Dio and it was an emotional moment as the singer had only passed away a few short days before this performance. The down side was that there was not a lengthy set list being performed and it was going to close out with a mere twelve numbers. That seemed like a cheat after the not too long ago Accept show that gave their packed venue a whopping twenty plus tunes from across their entire career. The main set would close with the incendiary “Metal Is Forever” and it seemed as though Scheepers was calling upon the powers of the Metal God Rob Halford himself for this one. It was a tune that made the fans able to realize how he might have been the perfect fit for those shoes when they needed to be filled.
The encore would bring forth another surprise as “Metal” Mike Chlasciak came out to bring a third lead guitar to the mix as the band did a rousing version of Judas Priest’s “Metal Gods”. It was killer, but sadly it was also the end. While this was a terrific show without question, one had to wonder why such a limited amount of people where in the room. Perhaps there was advance news that I missed which stated how the band would be performing the exact same set as the last time around or perhaps the Metal Republic was saving their money for the upcoming Maryland Death Fest (or tomorrow’s Pearl Jam concert :p ). I can understand people not wanting to come once again if the set is the same but given the fact that bands like this don’t make the rounds again and again it seems to be a choice that tampers with your Metal indulgences. I had a great time and was happy that by their keeping the set the same allowed me to not have missed anything but that other show. I also should make mention how the true Metal Queen Doro Pesch was present and hanging around downstairs near the merchandise booths to speak with her visiting musical friends and also giving the fans the chance to snare a photo with her. It was a shame that she didn’t come up onto the stage as well, but I guess you cannot have everything.
Primal Fear Set List:
1. Final Embrace
3. Nuclear Fire
4. Six Times Dead (16.6)
5. Angel In Black
6. Seven Seals (w/ Pamela Moore)
7. Sign of Fear
8. Fighting the Darkness (w/ Pamela Moore)
9. Riding The Eagle
10. Running In The Dust
11. Metal Is Forever
12. Metal Gods (w/ Metal Mike Chlasciak)
The return of such a band marks the need for showcasing their name up in the lights and with that in mind, here is the Marquee of the Gramercy Theatre as it announced to the world about the night’s activity.
The one and only Pamela Moore was present at the show and she would be singing a couple of numbers with the band tonight. She was spotted down around the merchandise area of the venue that leads to the dressing rooms and everyone was making her feel welcome tonight. This photo almost screams “please dahlings, no autographs”, but she signed things that people gave her and posed for many photos. I think she looks great.
We also caught up with “Metal” Mike and Doro Pesch who were at the show. We would find out later that Mike was going to jam with the band but sadly Doro would just be rocking out as the whole lot of them entertained.
Doro’s love for Metal comes out every time you run into her and even if she is in a rush to get someplace she will stop for her fans and take photos or talk to them. One has to admire that at this stage of her career. We love getting the chance to see her and find out what the latest adventures are, so with that in mind we are delivering a little bit more of a “Metal Shot” than the previous one.