7/12/2012 - Review by: Eric Compton
Rock 'N Rolf (I refuse to call him by any other name) called it quits in 2009 after twenty-eight years of running wild. It was the smart thing to do and I applauded his decision. Running Wild are part of the "other big 3" including Rage and Grave Digger. By 2009 Running Wild's sound had become stale, stagnant, boring...you get the point. That same sort of thing has happened to Grave Digger and Rage but that is beside the point. Rolf did the right thing and called it quits, released the "Final Jolly Roger" live set, the album and did the whole big send off at Wacken. Then he went on to do some less than stellar projects called Giant X and Toxic Taste (if you haven't heard of them there is a reason for obscurity).
Fast forward to 2011 and Rolf makes the unfortunate decision to raise the old ship from its icy depths and make Running Wild music again. The problem? No drummer and Running Wild is only a two piece band. The group have constantly had a revolving door of musicians but at least an actual band was intact. This go around its Rolf, Peter Jordan (guitarist since 2005) and a drum machine.
"Shadowmaker" rears its ugly head this year by way of SPV. Apparently Rolf received a good deal of cash to go forward with another cruise. The album cover is atrocious and is simply a precursor of what is to come. Opener "Piece Of The Action" is very sub-par, almost sounding like generic 80s Priest with a bass line like Billy Idol. Other sub-par efforts are "Into The Black" and its recycled riffs and "Black Shadow", the latter one of the few songs here that meets previous Running Wild criteria. The vocals are just flat and at times rather awkward, evident on the stale "Riding On The Tide" and "Sailing Fire" (which Rolf sounds well playing bass). My favorite of the group is "I Am Who I Am", the closest thing to an actual "new" Running Wild song that I might include in a "best of" or playlist. Beyond that this is just a terrible effort and the whole thing ends with seven minutes of the same tempo with "Dracula" (complete with its broken chorus).
I hate to bash a Running Wild record. I own every album on CD and digital and even have a handful on vinyl. I fell in love with the band in the mid-90s when I heard "Black Hand Inn" and its furious speed picking and melody. By 2005 I had heard enough Running Wild "pirate" songs to last a lifetime. Rolf will eventually regret the decision he has made here and as they say you can't erase the past. This is one passenger who is not ready for boarding again.
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