Primal Fear’s Discography: “New Religion”

Well, it’s time to discuss one of the most controversial albums in Primal Fear’s discography — “New Religion”. A lot of lances have been broken since the album came out and some of the fans turned their backs on the band because of some experiments which those old school metalheads found too odern for them. But all in all, the seventh album of Priml Fear was a logical step after “Seven Seals”. This time we chatted again with Mat Sinner who is responsible for the production of “New Religion”. 

Your seventh album “New Religion” faced mixed reaction from fans. Weren’t you afraid that after “Seven Seals” some old fags won’t appreciate new experiments like loops, programming and female vocals?

First of all, we’re making music because we have the faith, believe and passion and if you’re a longtime artist and writing and producing albums, you have changes in your work, new influences, new visions. This is the reason why you are an artist and love and survive in this job.

Would you say that after playing classic heavy metal for 10 years you wanted to change a bit your musical direction and be free from different clichés of traditional heavy metal? Does the song “The Man (That I Don’t Know)” reflects these feelings?  

The lyrics of this song are mostly written by Stefan and it’s not about our music or personally me.

One of the brightest highlights not only of the album but the whole catalogue of Primal Fear is the song “Fighting The Darkness”. Tell me please about the writing of this monster! What is the idea of dividing the song in 3 parts?

The Part 1 was written by me and my Swedish friends Tobias & Ronny, the second part was mainly written by me and pure instrumental, going back in to the final chorus. We divided the parts because of the songwriting rights and the different parts.

The band shot a video for “Fighting with Darkness” but you had to cut it to fit for TV standards. Was it an easy decision? Did you consider an opportunity to pick up another song for a video clip?

Well, the first video clip was “Sign Of Fear” and the second video clip “Fighting The Darkness”. “Sign…” is one of the heaviest songs and we all love “Fighting…”, so we had a clear decision what we want to do.

You continued your collaboration with Matz Ulmer on this album. He helped you with orchestral arrangements but as far as I understand you are responsible for them too. Do you have classical music education or did you tell Matz you ideas and he transferred them into arrangements?

Matz and me are friends until our school time and he is one of the best in Germany playing now in one of the biggest German bands “Pur”. We were sitting in his studio and worked on every song, tried out stuff, like we did together on the Seven Seals album.

The song “Everytime It Rains” is one of the most contradictory in your discography. How did you get to know Brian Steckler and Sasha DuPont who wrote it? Was it written especially for Primal Fear or is it a kind of a cover version?

The song was written for us and we thought it would be a great addition for the album, so we’ve picked it up to record. Nice challenge, even to have Epica’s Simone singing the female part. It was really cool that we could realize this duet between Simone and Ralf. Still proud of the song, because it shows a very different side of Primal Fear.

Tom Naumann quit Primal Fear for the second time before the band went on to record “New Religion” and you even said that you will never work with him again. Can you explain what happened? Weren’t he satisfied with the musical direction of the album?

Tom didn’t quit the band. He was sick, really sick and that’s another story – not for the public. Thank God he’s back!

“New Religion” was co-produced by Charlie Bauerfeind and mixed by Ronald Prent but after that you abandoned the idea of working with acclaimed producers. Why is that? Are you disappointed with them or did you learn enough from them to provide a high quality product yourself? By the way, did you learn any new tricks or ideas from Charlie Bauerfeind?

As I said before, the albums were produced by me and Charlie was my partner. He’s fantastic to work with in the studio, like I’m doing now with the great Jacob Hansen, or with Sinner and Dennis Ward. It’s great to have a partner at your side you can trust.

Why did Stefan Leibing left Primal Fear after this album? Was it simply because of his wish to spend more time with his family or were you looking for someone with a different approach to songwriting?

Stefan is a highly decorated industrial engineer and programmer. He has a family, two kids and wouldn’t quit his day job for his musical career. So we all knew the day will come that Stefan will leave the band if we are getting too busy. He is really a great guy and I can’t thank him enough to be my partner & friend in the band.

How do you view the album today? Once you said that on “New Religion” the band crossed the line to something you didn’t want to go. Can you comment on these words?

“New Religion” is a great album with a lot of highlights and important at this time for us to do. I would not regret any of our decisions. Maybe to mix with Mike Frazer again would have be a little different.

Imagine you were asked by a label to put out a best of album and you have to pick out only 3 tracks from each album. What track would you choose from “New Religion” and why?

“Sign Of Fear”, “Fighting The Darkness”, “Blood On Your Hands” – but I really “Everytime It Rains” and “The Man” too!

Thanks to Eugine Silin (Alive Concerts) for making this interview possible.

Primal Fear’s shows in Russia:
16.09.2017 — Saint-Petersburg;
17.09.2017 — Moscow.

Read interview with Tom Naumann about «Jaws of Death» here.
Read interview with Henny Wolter about «Nuclear Fire» here.
Read interview with Klaus Sperling about «Black Sun» here.
Read interview with Randy Black about «Devil’s Ground» here.
Read interview with Mat Sinner about «Seven Seals» here.
Read interview with Stefan Leibing here.