The year 1997 should be marked with red in the history of metal. It was the year when Ralf Scheepers and Mat Sinner have decided to start PRIMAL FEAR, and metal was never the same.Ralf Scheepers was at the moment a singer with a long glorious career behind him.After a debut in a highschool band, he has been invited to join the respected heavy metal band Tyran Pace, and so his legend begun. Being seriously considered for the job as headliner of Helloween before they achieved Michael Kiske and most especially his presence in the original line-up of Gamma Ray in the beginning of the nineties, when the fans were blown away by both his incredible voice and ravishing looks, that should be more than enough for any normal singer, but the best was yet to come for Ralf Scheepers.
He decided to go for the highest title that a metal vocal could dream of at the time the job of frontman of Judas Priest, so Ralf created the cover band Just Priest in order to train himself for the big challenge.But he was undeservedly rejected after a 2 years wait and making the short list, but kept going with Just Priest, waiting for the best to come.
In 1997, as Just Priest were short of a guitarist and bass player for a show, Ralf invited Tom Naumann and Mat Sinner of the legendary band SINNER to join Just Priest for a night. The result of that was the forming, short time after, of PRIMAL FEAR.
Mat Sinner was at the moment - and still is - one of the most respected German metal musicians. A career of over 17 years in metal, with SINNER having no less that 15 years of uninterrupted existence and 10 official albums out - not to mention some unofficial releases and Best Ofs, Mat was ready for a new challenge with Tom, his faithful accomplice in SINNER for over 10 years.A drummer was the only thing missing , so Klaus Sperling, from the same town as the rest of the band - Esslingen - not really a rookie in the business himself - has been invited to join the team.The first songs written together proved to be so good that longtime partners of both Mat and Ralf, JVC/Victor Japan offered them a fantastic recording deal, and that is how the legend was born.
When the self titled debut was out, the metal world has stopped its breath for a moment and trembled: never in history has a debut album been so highly acclaimed, never before the fans were so quick to respond. The ink did not have time to dry on the papers, and all the media recognised that a new age was born for metal. Nuclear Blast signed a longterm deal with the band and the debut album charted in the official German album charts on Pos. 48 - one of the highest debut entries in history of a German metal band! Compared with Judas Priest by the sceptical ones, PF have proven that they had their own way to make power metal, and that their roots and personalities were strong enough to sustain a concept so big, and the critics that still had a shred of decency had to agree upon further listening, that Primal Fear had already an identity of its own. Songs like “Chainbreaker”, “Running in the Dust” or “Silver & Gold” are metal classics today and the killer ballad “Tears of Rage” will be an alltime favourtie of the band forever! The guest appearance of Gamma Ray’s Kai Hansen were yet another proof for the unbelievers that this band was the real thing. Tours with Running Wild and Hammerfall followed incl. the fifth member of the band - guitarist Stefan Leibing!
Very technical and fast, Stefan was the exact missing ingredient in the band, and the sophomore release of PF saw him as a fulltime member of the metal commando.
The following opus was the largely acclaimed Jaws of Death, followed by a world wide tour that brought the fans to their knees and made them ask for more, all over the planet.A little less aggressive than the first opus, Jaws of Death was darker and deeper and charted on Pos. 49 in the German Charts. If Primal Fear was the birth of a star, Jaws of Death gave the band an established and well developed identity that showed the world exactly how unique the band really was. Not being afraid to experiment with technology but still faithful to the handmade metal, the songs are still engraved in the hearts of the believers. An interesting addition to the band's style are the ballads - PF are not afraid to take a slower pace and give Ralf the chance to show that he is not only a singer but also able to give enough dramatic emotion to get tears in the driest eyes when he sings “Under Your Spell”.
Also, the social and current reality theme, a trademark of Primal Fear together with the futuristic accents, make a strong presence of Jaws of Death, with the memorable “Church of Blood” and “Final Embrace” - still considered by some as the best song PF has ever wrote.
In order to take full advantage of Ralf's incredible talent and the band's immense versatility, even from the first release PF were not afraid to do some covers songs, by big names of the metal past.
Unfortunately, soon after Jaws of Death was released, guitarist Tom Naumann was forced to leave the band for personal reasons, leaving PF uncovered for the world tour.
His temporary replacement was found in SINNER - obviously- in the person of guitarist Alex Beyrodt Primal Fear’s first headlining tour in Europe was a success, followed by performances in Japan and Brazil!
The land of the rising sun was already aware that something BIG was about to hit them, and the return of Mat Sinner in Japan was long overdue, but although SINNER was always highly acclaimed in Japan, Primal Fear received a worshipping that only gods deserve.
The sons of the samuray praised the german metal commando, and the japanese archipelag was taken by storm.
Brasil has always been a special place as far as metal is concerned, but the arrival of PF on their shores was seen by the latin hearts as a second coming and the herald of greater times for the defenders of true metal.
But it was the glamorous Henny Wolter - old friend of Mat Sinner and respected member of THUNDERHEAD the one that filled the gap fulltime and thus the best metal team in the past 20 years was ready to play to kill. Not only that Henny's style was very close to the one that Tom created as a trademark for PF, but together with Stefan Leibing, he makes a guitar duo matched only by the legendary Tipton/Downing attack on Painkiller- and never afterwards.
But all this was still the beginning , as Nuclear Fire has changed all the ideas people had about the metal of the new millennium.
Released in the beginning of 2001, this album has been acclaimed worldwide and the sales were unbellievable, as no one expected this kind of a storm. Comparable only to Judas Priest's Painkiller, NF was considered at the date the ultimate metal album, and the world tour that followed spreaded the PF desease from Europe to Brasil and Japan.
The album also sees the band's first video, the highly appreciated Angel in Black, that hooked more metal fans to PF than anything else. An album with no filler, all songs of exceptional quality, impecably produced by Mat Sinner - the same as the previous two - and engineered by his faithful sidekick sound engineer Akeem Koehler, the production itself has set the standard for all the power metal productions that followed - often imitated and never quite achieved by any other team.
Songs like Nuclear Fire and Eye of an Eagle have brought new legions of fans under the proud banner of the metal commando. There is no flaw in this album, Ralf's voice is unbelievable high and low, the guitars shred and kill in the most perfect harmony, the bassline from hell that has been a trademark of Mat Sinner sounds in your bones and Klaus Sperling destroys the drums. A lot more aggressive than Jaws of Death - the album also marked another turn: Ralf Scheepers shaved his head- and it proved that there were not his looks that brought the success of PF - the bald headed Ralf was just as good and even better than the long haired one, and lightyears away from the one that sang on Heading For Tommorrow of Gamma Ray. Chart entries in Germany (38), Italy (71), Switzerland (78) and Japan (27) were the achievements of Primal Fear’s work.
Painful and angry but extremely human and touching love ballads were invoked again to give the album a balance, and Now or Never and Bleed for Me were just the necessary ingredients for an equilibrated album.
Also the year 2001 sees the attack on the USA, and they stormed in at Metal Meltdown and Milwaukee Metalfest, and even the yankees who used to nod their heads in disbelief were fascinated.
The return home saw Primal Fear getting their usual take on big names, and a picture single disc called Out In The Fields was added to the Primal Fear galaxy in the fall of 2001.
In November 2001, PF have started another period of hard working, writing and recording , that had as result their latest output, the brilliant concept album Black Sun , released in April 2002.
More controversial than the previous, - all concept albums are - Black Sun had its share of most great and some bad reviews, although those who wrote the bad ones had a very hard time trying to find something to criticise.
As tight as Nuclear fire and as dark as Jaws of Death, Black Sun has reached an incredible 12 place in the top of the biggest metal magazine on the planet, the prestigious japanese BURRN and Pos. 55 in the official German Charts.
The Scifi concept of the mythical Steel eagles of Primal Fear, heading into space to look for the only hope of the mankind, the misterious Black Sun , has been embraced by the fans and praised by the honest media, while the enemies ate their hearts out.
The Album also saw Mat Sinner sharing vocals with Ralf Scheepers on “Mind machine” - "The most brutal song we ever wrote" .
Also, the legendary american guitarist "Metal Mike" Chlasciak of Halford had a brilliant guest appearance, expecially with the earsplitting and bonecrushing solo on the incredible song "Fear"
The catchy midtempo rocker “Armageddon” got a video worthy of the high quality of the song, and VIVA gave Primal Fear the place they deserve amongst metal legends.
The European tour that followed was nothing less that spectacular, and PF have been received warmer than ever, including an outstanding performance at the prestigious Scala in London, where the cold British hearts melted for the German Metal Commando. Never before has a German band been acclaimed so highly in the cold Albion.
Another major turn of events saw Henny Wolter being forced to leave the band due to personal reasons.His departure was as friendly as it can be, an his replacement will be none other than the founder member of Primal Fear- Tom Naumann.
The story continues, as Primal Fear are now preparing for another Brasilian tour, and the future looks bright - as the world gets more and more under the metal commando banner. Major Summer Open Air are confirmed for summer 2003 and the recordings of the next Primal Fear album No. 5 will be prepared for autumn 2003!