Running Wild - Rapid Foray - (8/10)
Published on September 24, 2016
There was a time, when Running Wild would release a new album and fans would start trembling, hoping for another great album by the power metal veterans. Then there was a time, when Running Wild would release a new album and fans would start trembling, fearing another watered down album by the power metal veterans. The Hamburg-based pirates that had released classic albums such as Under Jolly Roger, Port Royal, Death or Glory or Black Hand Inn quickly changed from the former to the latter with their string of far less enthusiastically received releases of The Brotherhood, Rogues en Vogue and the two comeback albums Shadowmaker and Resilient. So when news of their 16th studio album Rapid Foray made the rounds, their fans were not exactly trembling with excitement anymore.
And the duo of Rock’n’Rolf and Peter Jordan seems to have somehow managed to listen to their older albums, because Rapid Foray, while probably not having any big chances to be named in one breath with the first mentioned albums, single-handedly is the best that Running Wild released in 16 years! Everything sounds in sync again with the band’s classic and characteristic sound that Rolf Kasparek had spent almost decades to establish and gives reasonable hope that he is no longer just flogging an already capsized ship.
“Black Skies, Red Flag” has pretty much all Running Wild trademarks from the classical riffing and driving rhythm to Kasparek’s gruff-ish vocals, not to be counted among their best, but definitely an upgrade to their last few albums right off the bat. In a first half, where the title track also is entertaining and driving with some of the band’s beloved/dreaded “ohoho” choirs, “Stick to Your Guns” and hard rock influenced “By the Blood in Your Heart” (with the exception of the surprising bagpipe towards the end) are relapses into the ho-hum territory of their past few albums, invoking fear that Rapid Foray might a rapid sinker after all.
But hey-ho, the nice, dynamic instrumental “The Depth of the Sea Nautilus” marks a surprising change of things, because if Rapid Foray had consisted of material the quality of the second half overall, this could have been a fully legitimate follow-up to Masquerade! Upbeat, catchy “Black Bart” with its great chorus is one of the best tracks Running Wild have created in many years and oddly titled “Hellestrified” continues it right on. While the next two tracks also manage to keep the high level of quality, the last track has to be mentioned in particular.
One thing that Running Wild have always been known for, were their long epics such as “Calico Jack”, “Battle of Waterloo”, “Treasure Island”, “Genesis (The Making and Fall of Man)”, “Ballad of William Kidd”, “War & Peace”, “Tsar”, “The Ghost”, even “Dracula” and “Bloody Island” off the last two albums showed that these always have been a forte of the Germans, so how does Rapid Foray’s excursion into the epic waters? “Last of the Mohicans” with its over eleven minutes absolutely deserves to be added to this illustrious list, with the same spirit as their greatest, good structure, one of the best leads Rolf has come up with in a looong time and a gripping chorus, this is a true winner.
Even though the drums still sound familiar (probably with Angelo Sasso’s spirit still in the swing of things), this could very well be Running Wild’s true comeback album, reprising many of the elements that had made them such a fan favourite and also seeing some dramatic improvement in the overall quality of the album. While they still have some way to go to recapture old glory, Rapid Foray shows that these gentlemen still have a few more sorties ahead of them!