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Gig Review: Primal Fear + Hazmat, Sydney, 12 June 2016

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Primal Fear + Hazmat
Newtown Social Club, Sydney
12 June 2016
Review by Cameron Cooper
Photos by Jess Miller

Primal Fear are, without a doubt, the very definition of Judas Priest-inspired, teutonic power metal. For this reason alone, they aren’t necessarily the kind of band one expects to see on the modest stage of the Newtown Social Club, nor does it sound – on paper – like a 1 hour and 45-minute set would really be workable. But expectations are made to be defied, and the band delivered on both fronts with a tremendous sound mix and a set that could have happily gone on for another hour.

Hazmat kicked off the show in exactly the way one has come to expect from them: tight, proficient, and somehow even more crystal clear than their records. The band’s vocal harmonies went down a treat. The band’s eclectic blend of technical thrash and groovy heavy metal resonated through the venue long after they’d left the stage. The band’s set focused on tunes from their latest record, Atonement, introducing non-believers to them in the best way possible. With an international distribution deal just signed with Metal Blast Records, it’s high-time Western Sydney’s four-headed juggernaut became a household name in underground metal.

“We appreciate you all coming out and having a listen,” spouted singer Jay Callaby. “Cause we’re here for the same reason you are. To see Primal Fear!”

A short time later, with the venue at capacity, Germany’s finest took the tiny stage. An incredibly intimate setting for a band with such massive presence (and honestly, each of Ralf Scheepers’ ripped arms could do with their own dressing rooms), band and audience brimmed with excitement. The outfit made a ballsy move by focusing primarily on their latest record, Rulebreaker; while most anthem-focused bands would be let down by a crowd unfamiliar with the newest record, the clarity in the band’s playing and Scheepers’ diction meant that everyone was singing along by the time a second chorus whipped around.

The band maintained an attitude of pure class and professionalism, complete with an end-show introduction of not only the band, but their roadies/sound techs, too. It’s a small gesture, but one that speaks to how seriously the band take their jobs, an approach that has paid absolute dividends in ensuring not a single note was out of place. The five-piece closed out their set with the one-two-punch of Chainbreaker and Metal Is Forever.

“You know the game, right?” joked Scheepers. “We leave, you scream and maybe we come back.”

And come back they did. With an audience begging for more, the band stormed the stage yet again for Fighting the Darkness and a thunderous, bowel-quaking performance of Running in the Dust.

This may have been the band’s first trip down under, but with the kind of reception they received it certainly won’t be the last. The band certainly have the stamina, hunger and molten metal fire to take on some of the bigger stages Sydney has to offer, but seeing them in such a small venue with an incredible mix? To quote a punter on the night: it was like going to church.

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