By Carl Begai
It’s shaping up to be a banner year for Primal Fear bassist / co-founder Mat Sinner. Coming off a successful run for the Sinner album Crash & Burn – a no-nonsense rock record showered with accolades across the board, even by fans that had written them off ages ago as a waste of time – Primal Fear’s eighth album, 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows Your Dead), has yanked the band’s loyal fanbase out of the ho-hum stupor caused by last outing, New Religion. Not that the album was particularly horrible, but it lacked the staying power and overall fire of predecessors Seven Seals (2005) and Devil’s Ground (2004). A matter of taste, perhaps, but it’s hard to put down the suggestion New Religion is weak when stacked up against 16.6’s ultra-focused no-holds-barred approach. Chalk it up to a major trimming of the fat with the exit of guitarists Stephan Leibing (amicable) and Tom Naumann (necessary), effectively replaced with the return of Henny Wolter and entrance of Swedish wunderkind Magnus Karlsson. As Sinner tells it, Primal Fear hasn’t felt this good in a long time.