Later this month (January 20th in Europe, January 24th in the U.S.), Heavy Metal band Primal Fear will be releasing their 9th studio album, Unbreakable. If you are a metal head, you need to mark this date on your calendar, as Primal Fear has crafted a metal album that no fan should be without.
Unbreakable is packed with great vocals, blazing guitar solos, thundering drums and crank-worthy metal anthems that will blow your mind.
The album starts off with a majestic intro Unbreakable (part 1) that doesn’t come close to preparing you for the next eleven tunes that will fill your head with metal happiness.
“Strike” is a fist-pumping, heavy metal anthem that ought to be a staple in Primal Fear’s live set. What a great tune!
Chances are you may have heard the first single “Bad Guys Wear Black” (see video below). While this is a great tune, it isn’t the best song on Unbreakable. To my ears, the best song is the powerful number “Where Angels Die”. This is an eight minute tune that is arranged with amazing guitar work, excellent keyboards, and the powerful vocals that Ralf Scheepers is known for. This is an amazing tune that needs to be played multiple times to be fully appreciated.
I thought “Metal Nation” would be another blazing rocker in the vein of Primal Fear’s song “Metal is Forever”. Much to my surprise, this is a mid tempo rocker, but another great tune, and a radio worthy rocker at that.
When many people thought heavy metal was deal, Primal Fear continued to fly the Metal flag, and have been doing so for over a decade. The band seems to get better with each album it releases, and Unbreakable is no exception. If Primal Fear’s Unbreakable is a reflection for all of the music that will be released in 2012, this will be a great year for hard rock & metal. It may be too early in 2012 to tell, but I would be surprised if Unbreakable didn’t make a lot of Top 10 lists at the end of the year. Don’t miss this!
For more information on Primal Fear, please visit the band’s website.
Rating: Out of 10
01. Unbreakable (Part 1)
03. Give Em Hell
04. Bad Guys Wear Black
05. And There Was Silence
06. Metal Nation
07. Where Angels Die
08. Unbreakable (Part 2)
09. Marching Again
10. Born Again
11. Blaze of Glory
Primal Fear is:
Ralf Scheepers – Vocals
Alex Beyrodt – Guitars
Magnus Karlsson – Guitar, Keyboards
Randy Black – Guitars
Mat Sinner – Bass & Vocals
Ralf Scheepers of German power metallers PRIMAL FEAR has finished laying down vocals for the band’s forthcoming studio album, “Unbreakable“, which is scheduled for a January 2012 release on Frontiers Records. He states, “I know that every musician will always praise his new work as his best so far, but what the whole team have created here is simply outstanding! I am sure you guys will love what you hear.”
* Marching Again
* And There Was Silence
* Night Of The Jumps
* Give ‘Em Hell
* Born Again
* Where Angels Die
* Bad Guys Wear Black
* Metal Nation
* Raise Some Hell
RALF SCHEEPERS – It’s not inappropriate to call Ralf Scheepers a Heavy Metal tenor. His larger than life voice can rival the very best in the history of Heavy Metal. Just let your ears delve into the back catalog of albums that Ralf Scheepers has sung lead vocals on and you shall be convinced. As a founding member of Gamma Ray, alongside Kai Hansen, Ralf Scheepers was the lead vocalist on three of their studio albums, from 1989 to 1993. In 1997, Ralf and Mat Sinner founded Primal Fear, a formidable Heavy Metal band that has etched out a powerful legacy to this very day.
There are many famous lead vocalists in Heavy Metal and Ralf Scheepers is one. However, when it comes to Ralf Scheepers, there is much more to being just a “famous” front man for a world known Heavy Metal band like Primal Fear. I never received a micro-hint of ego from Ralf as we spoke, nor did it ever appear that Ralf has, will or ever rest on his laurels. Ralf values friendship, (in a tiered format which he explains) and likes to create music on his acoustic guitar in front of his fireplace.
No, your not going to read on about a spoiled and partied out Heavy Metal star here, instead you will find out that Ralf Scheepers puts more thought into compassion and staying in touch with family, than he does about any Sunset Strip shenanigans. His new solo album “Scheepers” accentuates his fondness for ballads, guest musicians and of course, Heavy Metal. After my interview with Ralf Scheepers ended, I had to quickly remind myself that he is the intimidating vocal and physical presence of Primal Fear, for he truly carried himself in such a relaxed, polite and accessible manner. Here is what Ralf Scheepers had to say:
HRH: How relieved and proud are you, now that your solo album is being heard and praised?
RALF: I’m very pleased about it. The reviews have been good so far. I hope the people who bought the album are having a good time with it.
HRH: Which song on “Scheepers” moves you the most on a personal level?
RALF: Definitely “The Pain Of The Accused”, it’s based on a personal situation that I went through years ago. Once I got the melody line in my head for this song, I couldn’t get it out of my head.
HRH: How was the idea of doing a song (“Remission Of Sin”) with Tim “Ripper” Owens born?
RALF: I actually got to know Tim five or six years ago. We have gotten to know each other personally and Tim is a very nice guy. We’ve kept in close contact over the years. We email and see each other often, getting together to have some beers. I sent Tim this song while he was between two tours and he recorded it! I’m very happy about the way it came out. Tim and I are just good buddies!
HRH: Am I out of line by calling “Saints Of The Rock” a Heavy Metal Anthem Classic?
RALF: Well, you know, this song was recorded back in 1996 originally. It’s been re-recorded with Matt (Sinner) on bass. I did the whole choir on this re-recording.
HRH: A “Cyberfreak” never existed back in the eighties. Were the eighties a better time for Heavy Metal and the world as well?
RALF: I don’t think so, there’s always many changes happening. You have to deal with progress, you know? I sent my first email fifteen years ago! It’s a better world now. I get to stay in touch with cousins in America through Facebook, where years ago I couldn’t as easily stay in touch from a long distance. Facebook is a great network to keep in touch with friends and family. I’m not trying to sound like a Facebook commercial here by promoting them either. (laughs) You can advertise your music better through the internet now, then again, you can also lose money from people illegally downloading your music too.
HRH: Many of your friends appear as guests on “Scheepers”. Where do you rank friendship on the scale of life?
RALF: That’s a good question. It all starts with Facebook right? (laughs) It’s the same in personal life as well. I have friends that are not as much close. Then I have friends in business and friends I exchange problems with on a more personal level.
HRH: What other musicians would you have liked to guest on your current solo album and perhaps on any future Primal Fear or solo album?
RALF: For a guitarist, Neal Schon is amazing. He had no time and was just too busy with touring and recording to appear on my record. I’m pretty sure there are many names I can’t think of right now. There are many out there, it’s not easy to name them all. Rob Halford still is an old time favorite of mine! Tim “Ripper” was great to sing together with!
HRH: What are the differences that you see, when it comes to Heavy Metal being marketed in Europe compared to the U.S.?
RALF: That’s a tough question. In the U.S. the market is huge, it’s the biggest. I’ve learned later in life (laughs) with Primal Fear, that you must go to the U.S. and play for the fans. You play for the kids in the U.S. to go out and buy your album. It’s the opposite in Europe, the kids buy your album first and then go to your concert.
HRH: Would you ever consider a singing role on Broadway, if the situation was right?
RALF: Never say never! I love the musicals in Germany. At the Musical Theater in Germany, they are really studying singing and stuff. I’m not quite aware of being able to do it though.
HRH: Why’s that Ralf?
RALF: You have to be very professional and deliver the goods more so than Heavy Metal. It is night in and night out on Broadway. It’s a job too, it can become boring in a way. Then again, Heavy Metal is an everyday job too! I’m sure there has to be different feelings you must have to perform on a Broadway stage as well.
HRH: Will there be a solo tour in the U.S.?
RALF: It would be great! Only, with the new Primal Fear album being recorded and released, combined with Primal Fear doing festivals and tours, it may not be. I also have to see what the market reaction is to my solo album. If the promoters want me to go out solo, I am the last one to say no!
HRH: Do you feel our world needs to exercise some more compassion right about now?
RALF: Yes. I mean, I had the idea for this song (“Compassion”) when the earthquake happened in Haiti. Now its Japan too. I had the chords and the melody in my head as I watched the news on that Haiti earthquake. We need to show people we have feelings and not only money, that people are there for them, to give them (earthquake survivors) feelings that someone is there for them. I remember writing this song on my acoustic. I’m the acoustic guitar guy in front of the fireplace.
HRH: What? Ralf Scheepers sits in front of the fireplace, with his acoustic guitar and writes songs? (laughs)
RALF: (laughs) I also like to shred with my acoustic too! (laughs) That doesn’t mean I’m a big softy or anything like that! I’m still the Heavy Metal guy!
HRH: (laughs) Don’t worry Ralf, you’ll always be the big Heavy Metal guy in my mind!
HRH: How is the new Primal Fear album coming along?
RALF: We have now, about ten songs. The guys are very busy. They’ve sent me playbacks and I’ve put my vocals and melodies on them. Then, we team up and rehearse the songs. It is very important to team up with the band and not rely solely on the internet when writing songs.
HRH: Good luck with the recording of the new Primal Fear album Ralf!
RALF: Thank you very much, it’s going to sound great! I’m already banging my head to these Primal Fear demos!
Ralf Scheepers has had a long career in hard rock & metal. With over 25 years of service in the bands Tyran Pace, Gamma Ray and Primal Fear, I found it surprising that Ralf finally chose to do a solo album. One might think that with this being a solo disc, that Ralf might try some different things, or slow it down somewhat. Ralf did exactly the opposite by putting out a quality solo effort, that is a full fledged metal disc, that is absolutely essential to every fan of the genre.
The metal music on Scheepers reminds me a lot of Nightcrawler era Judas Priest. Dare I say that this is even better than the last Primal Fear album? This is really good stuff!! Scheepers is packed with metal guest stars including Tim “Ripper” Owens, “Metal” Mike Chlasciak (Halford), Snowy Shaw (Therion), Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray) Sander Gommans (After Forever), and Victor Smolski (Rage) as well as Ralf’s Primal Fear band mates, Alex Beyrodt, Magnus Karlsson, and Mat Sinner. Each of these musicians help to create an incredible solo effort with Ralf Scheepers.
Some of the highlights include the awesome opening track “Locked in The Dungeon” which features Metal “Mike” Chlasciak’s blazing guitar work. “Remission of Sin” features Tim “Ripper” Owens singing a duet with Ralf Scheepers. It is amazing how similiar their voices are, and how well their voices blend together. “Before the Dawn” is a really cool cover of the classic Judas Priest tune from their classic disc, Hell Bent for Leather. On this cover, Ralf played all of the instruments, and Victor Smolski from Rage added the excellent guitar solos.
One of my absolute favorites on this CD, is the song “Doomsday”. The guitars, the double bass drumming and Ralf Scheeper’s soaring voice make this songs one of the best on the CD.
While most solo efforts tend to fall short of the bands the artists came from, Ralf Scheepers solo effort simply does not. This CD is an impressive metal offering that will appeal to fans of Primal Fear, Judas Priest, Halford, and heavy metal music. If you haven’t checked out any of the bands Ralf Scheepers has sang with, I highly recommend check out Scheepers. This CD will make you a new fan without question!
1. Locked In The Dungeon
2. Remission Of Sin
4. The Fall
6. Saints Of The Rock
7. Before The Dawn
8. Back On Track
10. The Pain Of The Accused
11. Play With The Fire
Ralf Scheepers band is:
Ralf Scheepers – Lead & Backing Vocals; Acoustic Guitar; Keyboards; FX Sounds
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Lead Vocals on “Remission of Sin”
Magnus Karlsson – Lead Guitars, Guitars, Banjo, Accordion, Keyboards
Sander Gommans – Lead Guitar, Guitars
Mike Chlasciak -Lead Guitar
Alex Beyrodt – Lead Guitar
Kai Hansen – Lead Guitar
Victor Smolski- Lead Guitar
Mat Sinner: Bass, Keyboards
Snowy Shaw: Drums
Frontiers Records is pleased to announce the release of SCHEEPERS solo debut album on February 18th in Europe and February 15th in North America.
Ralf Scheepers has built himself quite a reputation for being one of the finest German Heavy Metal singers. With a career spanning three decades (he debuted with Tyran’ Pace’s “Eye to Eye” album in 1983), Scheepers sung on true Power Metal manifesto releases such as Gamma Ray’s first three albums, before starting Primal Fear in 1997, with Mat Sinner.
His voice is high-pitched and tenor-esque and his abilities were often compared to some of the finest Hard Rock and Heavy Metal singers ever (from Rob Halford to Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan). Both Helloween and Judas Priest considered him as their possible next lead singer.
Over the years Ralf wrote and collected a few tracks that did not fit exactly in the Primal Fear concept. As often happens, he had just been waiting for the right chance to present itself and that happened when himself, his buddy Mat Sinner and Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino sat together and discussed plans for the future in… 2007! Over three years later and the results are finally here and in Scheepers’ words “I’m really proud of the result!”
Ralf Scheepers’ artistic intention was to please the existing Primal Fear fan base, but he also wanted to add some surprises and include as much variation as he could in the recording. So he went ahead and covered one of his own favourite – but untypical Judas Priest songs “Before the Dawn” and for the first time, Ralf played all instruments on a song, except the fantastic guitar solos added by Victor Smolski (Rage). “Compassion” is another special track with a very positive vibe, recorded only with acoustic instruments. Two of the songs were composed with former Primal Fear guitarist Stefan Leibing, while Gamma Ray’s Kai Hansen added guitar on “The Pain Of The Accused”. Halford’s Metal Mike played lead-guitar on the album opener “Locked In The Dungeon”. One more highlight is the vocal duet with Tim “Ripper” Owens on “Remission Of Sin”.
Additional guest appearances include Sander Gommans (ex After Forever), Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Therion) and Scheepers Primal Fear band mates Magnus Karlsson, Alex Beyrodt & Mat Sinner! The album was mixed and mastered by Achim Koehler and produced by Mat Sinner.
“Scheepers” final tracklisting includes:
The song “Remission of Sin” can exclusively be listened in full in streaming on the Frontiers Web radio. Tune in at: www.frontiers.it/webradio
Ralf Scheepers: Lead & Backing Vocals; Acoustic Guitar; Keyboards; FX Sounds
Tim “Ripper” Owens: Lead Vocals on “Remission of Sin”
Magnus Karlsson: Lead Guitars; Guitars; Banjo; Accordion; Keyboards
Sander Gommans: Lead Guitar, Guitars
Mike Chlasciak, Alex Beyrodt; Kai Hansen; Victor Smolski: Lead Guitars
Mat Sinner: Bass, Keyboards
Snowy Shaw: Drums
The forthcoming solo album from PRIMAL FEAR singer Ralf Scheepers is in the very final stages of production. Some very special guests agreed to appear – the list includes guitarists “Metal” Mike Chlasciak (HALFORD), Kai Hansen (GAMMA RAY), Sander Gommans (AFTER FOREVER) and Magnus Karlsson (PRIMAL FEAR, ALLEN/LANDE). Powerhouse American vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH) is dueting with Scheepers in the track “Remission Of Sin“, Swedish multi-instrumentalist Snowy Shaw (THERION, DREAM EVIL, KING DIAMOND, DIMMU BORGIR) appears on drums and PRIMAL FEAR’s Mat Sinner is playing bass on the entire LP and produced the album. Achim Koehler is currently in the final stages of the mixing session and will shortly be mastering the production.
Scheepers revealed that his upcoming solo album will include a remake of his song “Saints Of Rock” Scheepers originally recorded with his band TYRAN PACE and a cover version of the JUDAS PRIEST classic “Before The Dawn’. “‘Saints Of Rock’ is gonna be, of course, a little bit more modern and updated than it was [when the original version was recorded] in 1986,” he explained. “I mean, right now we have much more possibilities to make songs sound a little bit more modern, starting with the drum sound and the bass sounds.” He added, “I think ‘Before The Dawn’ pretty much is a straight cover, but the first song I’m playing (nearly) all instruments just a little more orchestral things going on. Vocal-wise, I just added a harmony vocals, plus the two outstanding guitar solos by maestro VICTOR SMOLSKI (RAGE). The album is like a trip through my entire career from hard driven crushing metal, groovy heavy beats, orchestral epic to stripped down basic songs and of course some nice surprises!”
The musical direction of his forthcoming solo CD is more diverse than PRIMAL FEAR, from the hardest to the softest tones. The album was recently presented to the German press and some of the reactions included
“A varied, magic masterpiece! Intensive, passionate and faithful – a terrific singer!” – Markus Wosgien (Rock It!, EMP, Blast!)
“A surprisingly varied and still compact metal-masterpiece, that leaves nothing to be desired!” – Andreas Schöwe (Metal Hammer)
“The vocals and the songwriting are just terrific and you’ve never experienced Ralf Scheepers so relaxed. The album is a hit! Does the world needs a solo album of the Primal Fear singer? Yes, of course!” – Birgit Braeckle (Breakout)
Frontiers plans to release the album in February 2011.
Swedish guitarist Magnus Karlsson (PRIMAL FEAR, STARBREAKER, LAST TRIBE) has finished laying down his parts for the forthcoming solo album from Ralf Scheepers of German power metallers PRIMAL FEAR. According to a posting on the PRIMAL FEAR web site, “Magnus delivered his guitar parts on some songs of the album and did a killer job as always. Just some more lead guitars are missing by some other great players and we’re ready to mix the album after the forthcoming [PRIMAL FEAR] European tour!”
As previously reported, powerhouse American vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens (HAIL!, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, BEYOND FEAR, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH) will make a guest appearance on Scheepers’ forthcoming CD. Owens will be heard dueting with Scheepers in the track “Remission Of Sin”. Other guest musicians expected to appear on the album include Swedish multi-instrumentalist Snowy Shaw (DIMMU BORGIR, THERION, DREAM EVIL, KING DIAMOND, MERCYFUL FATE) on drums, Sander Gommans (AFTER FOREVER, HDK) on guitar and PRIMAL FEAR‘s Mat Sinner playing bass on the entire LP and producing. A photo shoot with Alex Kuehr for the CD’s cover took place in early July in Germany.
In a recent interview with the “Metalzone” radio show (web site) with Kostas Purevil Kyriakakis and Helena Mihailidou, Scheepers revealed that his upcoming solo album will include a remake of his song “Saints Of Rock” from Scheepers‘ pre-PRIMAL FEAR band TYRAN PACE and a cover version of “Before The Dawn’ from JUDAS PRIEST. “‘Saints Of Rock’ is gonna be, of course, a little bit more modern than it was [when the original version was recorded] in 1986,” he explained. “I mean, right now we have much more possibilities to make songs sound a little bit more modern, starting with the drum sound and the bass sounds — having a much more distorted sound.” He added, “I think ‘Before The Dawn’ pretty much is a [straight] cover — [there's] just a little more orchestral things going on, I have more strings in the song compared to the JUDAS PRIEST [original]. Back then there wasn’t much strings going on. I think they even have a piano [in the original version], which I don’t have. I have strings and I have this atmosphere stuff going on. Vocal-wise, I just added a harmony at the last bridge before last chorus, I added a harmony which is not on the original, but that’s the basic difference.”
In a June 2010 interview with Metal Assault, Scheepers stated about the musical direction of his forthcoming solo CD, “It’s more diverse [than PRIMAL FEAR], you can say.” He added, “In the beginning I had those ballads that we couldn’t use for PRIMAL FEAR because they might be too mellow, but now we’ve started to write together on it. Basically, it’s my ideas on it, but I have a great team, with Mat and Magnus and some other members — Sander [Gommans], the ex-AFTER FOREVER guitarist, helped me a lot. It’s a good variety — from the hardest to the softest tones.”
PRIMAL FEAR recently released a new live DVD, “16.6 – All Over The World” (recorded in various locations between September and November 2009), and a live CD, aptly titled “Live In The USA”.
The brand new Primal Fear European tour is about to kick off:
18.09.2010 POL – Warsaw – Progresja
19.09.2010 CZ – Pardubice – Zluty Pes Pardubice
21.09.2010 D – Aschaffenburg – Colossaal
22.09.2010 D – Munich – Backstage
23.09.2010 D – Cologne – Underground
25.09.2010 IT – Bari Modugno – Demode
26.09.2010 IT – Rome – Black Out
28.09.2010 AUT – Woergl – Komma
29.09.2010 D – Nuernberg – Hirsch
30.09.2010 D – Osnabrueck – Lagerhalle
01.10.2010 D – Burglengenfeld – VA Zentrum
02.10.2010 D – Bad Arolsen – Outback
04.10.2010 SWE – Vaesteras – Sigurdsgatan2
05.10.2010 SWE – Stockholm – Gotokolare
06.10.2010 SWE – Gothenburg – Sticky Fingers
08.10.2010 FIN – Tampere – Sputnik
09.10.2010 FIN – Helsinki – Dantes Highlight
11.10.2009 D – Hamburg – New Headbangers Ballroom
12.10.2010 FRA – Paris – La Scene Bastille
13.10.2010 FRA – Lyon – Marche Gare
14.10.2010 FRA – Mulhouse – Noumatrouf
15.10.2010 D – Speyer – Halle 101
04.12.2010 BEL – Kuuren – Hippodrom
Friday night the German heavy metal band Primal Fear came to Louisville, Kentucky’s Phoenix Hill Tavern for a great night of metal & mayhem. This date has been on Primal Fear’s schedule for a few months, and I have been anxiously awaiting to see them play live for my very first time. Prior to the show I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Primal Fear’s guitarist Henny Wolter. I will post this on Hard Rock Hideout at a later time.
Denver, Colorado thrashers Havok opened up the show for Primal Fear. This three-piece act dished out classic thrash metal that reminded me of early Metallica & Slayer. They were far better than I expected them to be. Havok did a pretty good job warming up the crowd for Primal Fear. Check them out on myspace.
I was disappointed by the small crowd that turned out for Primal Fear in Louisville, but on this night there were several shows in town, including Fear Factory, which made it tough for Primal Fear to draw a large crowd. A quick look at the license plates in the parking lot, and you could see that fans drove in from all over the United States to catch this show. Even though the audience wasn’t huge, you would have never known it. It sounded like 1,000 people were in the Phoenix Hill Tavern. Everyone was feeding off of the band’s energy, and they were feeding off the crowd.
I knew that Primal Fear was going to be good live, but they far exceed my expectations. Ralf Scheepers is still singing at the top of his game. His range and screams have not diminished in the least. I was totally impressed not only by his vocal performance, but by the whole band in general. During the show, Henny Wolter & Alex Beyrodt did a dueling guitar solo. Alex Beyrodt’s style greatly differs from Henny Wolters, but they are both impressive players, and when they play in unison it is complete metal perfection.
Mat Sinner and Randy Black round out what is one of the best rhythm sections in heavy metal today. Mat does a fine job singing back up to Ralf Scheepers, and Randy Black is an absolute beast on the drum kit.
The set list included the songs: “Six Times Dead (16.6)”, “Riding the Eagle”, “Killbound”, “Fighting the Darkness”, “Running In the Dust”, “Nuclear Fire”, “Seven Seals”, “Battalions of Hate”, “Metal is Forever”.
The unofficial sixth member of Primal Fear, Pamela Moore (Queensryche, Solna) came out and sang on the songs “Seven Seals’, and “Fighting the Darkness”. Ralf Scheepers and Pamela Moore’s voices are completely different, and you would not think their voices would work together. When Pamela sang with Ralf on “Fighting the Darkness” it gave me goose bumps. It was absolutely incredible. Ralf Scheepers dedicated the song to the late, great Ronnie James Dio. It was a fitting tribute indeed.
The band closed out their set with their classic song, “Metal is Forever”. Check it out in the clip below.
After the show, I caught up with Alex Beyrodt, who shared with me that work has begun on the follow-up CD to Voodoo Circle. David Readman recently sent Alex 4 new songs. He is hoping to have the CD completed, and released in November. Alex told me a really cool Ronnie James Dio story that was too good not to share. A few years ago, Sinner opened up for DIO on their European tour. A few years later in 2006, Alex was at the NAMM convention. As he walked up and down the aisles of the convention, he noticed a huge line of fans waiting in line for autographs. He saw that it was Ronnie James Dio and Craig Goldy signing autographs at a table. Ronnie saw Alex out of the corner of his eye, and stopped in the middle of his signing session to walk over and talk to Alex, just to see how he was doing, and talk about their tour together. Alex didn’t expect Ronnie to remember him, and Ronnie took the time out of a busy signing session to talk to him. To me, this is just one more example of how great of a person Ronnie James Dio was.
All of the guys from Primal Fear made a point to come out after the show, and spend some time with their fans. Everyone was great, and the unplanned meet & greet afterwards made a great night of rock, a completely amazing experience.
Primal Fear doesn’t play in the United States very often, so you truly need to catch them live while they are here.
Primal Fear has the following dates left on their tour. Don’t miss them if they come near you!
01st Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
03rd Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
04th Portland, OR @ Peter’s Room
05th San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
06th Santa Ana, Ca @ Galaxy Theatre
08th West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
09th Mesa, AZ @ U.B.’s
10th Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
12th Houston, TX @ Meridian
13th Austin, TX @ Emo’s
In Europe the metal band Primal Fear has been been kicking ass for over ten years now. They have played for thousands of fans in just about every major music festival you can think of including Wacken Open Air, Bang Your Head, Sweden Rock, Metalmania, Monsters of Rock and a bunch more.
Ralf Scheepers, the singer of Primal Fear, has a voice that should be legendary amongst all metal fans. His multi-octave range has been delighting fans all over the world, but in the U.S.A. both him and his band are still largely unknown.
Hard Rock Hideout had the opportunity to speak with Ralf about Primal Fear’s up and coming U.S. tour, their new album 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows Your Dead) and some of the history of Ralf’s storied career. Enjoy!!
HRH: How old were you when you first started singing?
Ralf Scheepers: I first started singing when I was nine or ten years old. I noticed that when I sang along with the radio it wasn’t that wrong (laughs). I never intended to be a musician, it just came with birth. I tried out in a school band when I was sixteen years old also playing the rhythm guitar and singing which I couldn’t really do at the same time. In the end, I just put away my guitar and started singing in heavy bands in the area of Stuttgart. That is how my career started.
HRH: What drew you into heavy metal?
Ralf Scheepers: Actually when I was 16 – 18 it was exactly the age when New Wave of British Heavy Metal came up with bands like Iron Maiden Saxon, and Judas Priest. When I first heard Unleashed in the East the first time, I was totally knocked out. It brought me into heavy metal.
HRH: I have listened to some of your music with your band Tyran Pace, and was blown away with how good it was. It is a shame that not too many people got to hear that great band you were in.
Ralf Scheepers: Thank you. When I look back at it, I thought my voice sounded like a little kid of course a voice evolves. It was just the beginning of everything.
HRH: A lot of singers’ voices start to deteriorate as they age, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all with you. On your last couple of releases New Religion and 16.6, you are singing better than ever. Your voice hasn’t lost anything over the years. If anything, it has only gotten stronger. What are you doing to keep your voice in such great shape?
Ralf Scheepers: Thank You! I ask myself that too. I try to be healthy. I am 44 of yearsof age now. I need to warm up voice a lot more than I did twenty years ago. It is a pretty tough way we are singing. With the heavy metal singers belting it out every night. They really harm their vocal chords with the stuff they are doing. Everyone mostly sings too loud. That is the same with me. I really scream like hell. Nowadays the technique is really good when recording in the studio. I am really happy that I can record my stuff at home. When I am recording at home, it doesn’t mean that I have technical stuff which helps me. I take my time because I am a perfectionist. I don’t leave stuff on the hard disc. Maybe five years we would have left it on the hard disc. This way it it sounds better and more and aggressive the way I want it.
HRH: With the screams you have been cutting loose on your albums, you have one incredible instrument.
Ralf Scheepers: Thank you.
HRH: You recorded a bunch of cool albums with Gamma Ray back in the early 90’s. Why did you leave that band?
Ralf Scheepers: We were together for five years. I was living still in Stuttgart, also now. Gamma Ray is coming from Hamburg, the other members. The technology wasn’t where you could swap mp3 files and load your dat files into your sessions and compose your songs that way. That is the way we are doing it now between Sweden and Hanover. Back then it wasn’t possible, the technology wasn’t there. The guys wanted me to move to Hamburg. I couldn’t do that. I needed to work to pay for my way of life. Music wasn’t paying for it. That was one of the reasons we parted ways. The other reason is well known. I made the application to Judas Priest. I told the guys that I did it. They asked me what I would do if Judas Priest asked me to be the singer. I said I would go, without disrespect and everything. They understood, but in the end there was another factor. The feeling was not that good anymore. Before I made my application Kai and Dirk started singing their own songs, which is their own right of course. In the end it was a sign that they may not need a vocalist anymore.Everything came together within one month and we went our seperate ways. I was a short time of bad vibes for a couple of months. We are still friends. I don’t want to talk shit about Gamma Ray, and they don’t talk shit about me. It was a good time, it was a learning phase. I really appreciate the time. I don’t want to talk bad about it. It was only good.
HRH: So you still keep in touch with Kai Hansen?
Ralf Scheepers: Yes, we met in Norway at the end of April. They played the night before we played. We arrived one day early. We met them and had a good time. It is always a good time.
HRH: Tell me a little about you trying out for Judas Priest.
Ralf Scheepers: I didn’t try out. I sent demo tapes, CD’s, and live video from Gamma Ray. I got this letter back from the management from Jane Andrews that the guys were interested. There was a really long time that I had to wait. Glen Tipton was writing his solo album at the time. So many guys sent their application in they had millions of tapes to listen to. I understood it would take a long time. I got the promise I would be invited, but I never got invited to make the audition. From the view of now, everything is ok. I totally understand why they took Tim “Ripper” Owens. He is a really good vocalist, and a very nice guy. We now have contact with each other, we are musical friends. Everything is fine. Also with Judas Priest, when I met the guys KK, Glen and Rob. Everyone is nice and fine. We have respect for each other.
HRH: I have heard your cover of “Metal God” from the Primal Fear album “Metal is Forever”. I can’t believe you didn’t get the job.
Ralf Scheepers: Thank you. I am more satisfied with the”Exciter” cover with Gamma Ray. I am really happy with. I just came into the studio. It was a time that we were already separated. We still had a good time and were good friends. We said lets do this tribute thing, Exciter from Judas Priest. We all liked them. Everyone in the band liked the live version of it. I was signing it live and it was really amazing. We were having a good time and you can hear it. It was really good.
HRH: After Gamma Ray, you had a band called Just Priest?
Ralf Scheepers: Oh yes, It was just a time that I didn’t know if I might be the vocalist of Judas Priest. I was preparing myself a little bit, to go through all of the albums and learn the songs. Which I already knew before, but learned to sing it for the possible audition that never happened. We played some shows here and there in Stuttgart. It was no big deal behind it.
HRH: Was Just Priest the precursor for Primal Fear?
Ralf Scheepers: Yes, the thing is, there was one show where a couple of the guys of the cover band couldn’t do it. I invited Matt and Tom from Sinner to do it. As I sung in the studio for Sinner some lines. We had a good conversation. We said lets hook up and write some songs. Japan was waiting for material from me. They wanted to continue to work with me. I asked Matt and Tom to write some songs together. They did the Just Priest show, and we all became friends.
HRH: Moving foward to Primal Fear, 16.6 is your eighth album. You have maintained the same lineup with minimal changes over the years. Magnus Karlsson joined Primal Fear for the new album. You worked with Magnus briefly on New Religion right?
Ralf Scheepers: Yes, that is exactly what I wanted to say. We had some problems in the studio with the guys that we had back then, which really denied to play the guitar, and didn’t like the compositions and everything so. We invited Magnus to play some solos here and there and also Henny who is also a member now. The reason why Stefan left because his wife got pregnant again, he still had his daytime job which was getting pretty much for him. He said he in a friendly way that he couldn’t do it anymore, and we went our separate ways in a very friendly way. We immediately called up Magnus because he is an outstanding talent and a good composer and song writer. We called him up if he wanted to join Primal Fear. He was happy to do it. We didn’t know what was going to happen. It is pretty important for a band how a guy acts on stage, and he behaves on the tour bus, and if he can cope with everything in the end. He is one of the guys that can cope better than one of ours. He is great. He is fitting perfectly into the band both musically and personally. He is a nice guy. The thing with Henny, he was again taking the place for Tom Naumann because we had problems with him in the studio. We called up Henny because we had a good time in the Nuclear Fire era. We called him up. He was absolutely hoping to be the guitarist again. Hopefully we have our final lineup now.
HRH: What was it like working with Magnus on the new album? Was the recording process different for 16.6?
Ralf Scheepers: Yes, the difference was Matt, Henny and Magnus met up at Magnus house in Sweden to compose 80% of the album. They made a demo and preproduction there. The sent me the stuff into mp3 files, I extracted it and loaded it into Pro Tools sessions and bounced my ideas onto it. That is how we work now. Many of the lyrics and some of the vocal lines were already fixed by Matt, as he is a vocalist too, and Henny also made a lot of the melodies on the album. The rest of the 20% of was from my side on 16.6. Hopefully next time, I will have the time to team up with the guys to compose songs in one room together. It is still a good thing to compose songs in a rehearsing room or one room. It is good vibe if it has the original feeling behind it. There are also advantages in composing it in different parts of the world. You can take your time, and think on your own about your ideas. There advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of working.
HRH: The one thing Primal Fear has not done yet is conquer the United States. You are kicking off your first U.S. tour starting with the Rock Gone Wild Festival in August. Are you excited to come play in a major festival in the U.S. in front of a bunch of new fans for the first time?
Ralf Scheepers: We are very excited. Everyone is looking forward to it. The thing with America to be honest is always to be honest the time of musicians was holding us back. Guys were still working like Stefan and Me. It was simple as that. I still have to work to keep my life standard. Music doesn’t pay for my family and my house and stuff. I have to go to work. In the end, everyone is looking forward to come to the states now. It is about time to bring good stuff over there to a tour, even if it is a small tour. Hopefully we picked the most important cities of the States, without being disrespectful to the other cities. We would like to come everywhere, but it isn’t possible.
HRH: 16.6 is doing pretty well in Sweden and Germany right now.
Ralf Scheepers: Yes, we are really lucky to be on the charts. We are at 46 in Sweden, 52 in Japan and 28 in Germany. We are hoping now for America. The album came out last Friday. Hopefully we will get the chance to hit the Billboards there. It is a dream of course.
HRH: Has piracy hurt Primal Fear?
Ralf Scheepers: Yes this is one thing that really made me a little bit mad. There is so much work with this stuff you know.. Of course I always understand both sides. The end result is very good media to have good advertising and stuff. It can also have a bad side where people download this stuff, even if we have this water sign in the audio files that is really dangerous. A guy can really get caught if he puts into torrent or wherever. You really get him it. It is a really expensive thing that the record companies do to prevent piracy. In the end, it hit us again.
There are always black sheep out there. We could give out any samples to whoever for magazines or whatever. I don’t want to blame anybody. Sometimes if the music goes to a friend, and he does it in the end. It is always a bnd thing when you see your album out there one week, or even one month before it is released. It brings you down a little bit.
HRH: It takes money right out of your pocket. That really has to hurt.
Ralf Scheepers: I want to explain that. The money thing is a hard factor to talke about. We aren’t doing this to be millionaires anymore. The eighties are over where musicians and rock stars were wealthy. Nowadays, rock stars are still having a day time job to keep their life going, and this is also coming from this piracy in the end.
HRH: Primal Fear and Sinner have new albums out now. Will you play all Primal Fear songs in your live set, or will you throw some Sinner songs in there now?
Ralf Scheepers: We will only do Primal Fear songs. We set the songs together. We rehearsed the stuff because Saturday we had the first show with four new songs in the set list. The festival set list was 60 minutes. But if we go on a big tour, we will have a 90 minute set list with six songs off of the new album. We are really looking forward to that. We have a good vibe, and I think we can really deliver the goods.
HRH: On several of your album covers you have had a metal eagle, and on 16.6, you have a dark raven like figure. What does the new figure represent?
Ralf Scheepers: We wanted to have a new shape again. We wanted to get away from the Seven Seals and New Religion shape. We wanted to keep the eagle at a Primal Fear mascot somehow. This time we chose this dark shape more because it really fits with the title. Of course, the word devil is not new to heavy metal. The sentence before the devil knows your dead is pretty strong as an album title. This is a good expression for a heavy metal album. We sent the idea off to our artist, and she sent this cover back and everyone was amazed. We thought it was great.
HRH: You just released a video Six Times Dead (16.6). Do you have any more videos planned for 16.6?
Ralf Scheepers: No, this is it. The videos are not played on MTV anymore or on Vivo here in Germany. I don’t know how it is in the States with all of the channels that you have, but here in Europe it is not played so much. We did this video so it could be played on Youtube and the homepage, and myspace or wherever. The fans are watching it online more than on television.
HRH: Where is the best place for fans to find out more information about Primal Fear?
HRH: Thanks a lot for your time today Ralf. I will see you at Rock Gone Wild in August.
Ralf Scheepers: Thank You! I am looking forward too it.