Walking a fine line between speed and power metal, Germany’s Running Wild formed 35 years ago. Their earliest releases were innovative and ahead of its time. With 1987’s Under Jolly Roger they incorporated the ever familiar pirate theme that they are so known for.
Founder Rolf Kasparek put the band on ice in 2009 for two short years before resurrecting them. Since the rebirth they have continuously released new material and now with their latest Rapid Foray, it’s already their third release since 2012. It is incredibly their sixteenth album overall.
Guitarist/vocalist Kasparek has a distinct writing style, which is sprinkled throughout the album. Built around larger than life choruses, his melodies are often infectious and unforgettable. There is a certain amount of silliness in the lyrics and obviously the pirate motif is an acquired taste.
There are moments where the material lives up to their past and Kasparek finds his muse. “Hellectrified,” “Into The West” and especially the title track are some of the strongest songs they have composed in a long time. Featuring driving riffs and anthemic choruses that implant themselves squarely in your brain and are all infectious.
“Black Bart” kicks off with a quick fast picked riff that is accompanied by double bass drums which screams classic Running Wild. The biggest surprise is that it took them 35 years to write a song entitled “Black Bart” as it fits their imagery perfectly.
The album ends on the eleven minute plus “Last Of The Mohicans.” A true tour de force, a noteworthy lick is the centerpiece and it propels the song forward. Excellent guitar playing by Kasparek and second guitar player Peter Jordan showcase their dexterous lead playing. The track flies by and doesn’t feel at all its length.
As they have done on their previous recent releases, a drum machine is utilized instead of a drummer. It gives the material a stiffer feel and doesn’t have the same vibe and energy as the material deserves.
Rapid Foray might not reach the heights of their classic era, but it’s the best release since their comeback in 2012. The songwriting is more consistent and the material is diverse and complex. If one can get past the odd themes, Running Wild continue to prove they have a knack for writing excellent, unforgettable songs.
(released August 26th, 2016 on SPV Records)