When it comes down to pirate themed Metal, VERBAL DECEPTION, SWASHBUCKLE and the likes definitely were not the first ones to come up with this, German Power Metal-stalwarts RUNNING WILD are entitled to this. In the course of their over 30-year career they produced many hits such as “Under Jolly Roger”, “Bad To The Bone” and many more and the opinions often diverge as to which of their many albums is to be considered their best. One that does come back very often, though, is 1992’s “Pile Of Skulls”, which coincidentally was my first contact with the Hamburg band based around Rock’n’Rolf Kasparek, and while their last few albums had seen the frigate scraping along the shallow sand banks of the coast, the 80s and early 90s definitely were the heyday for their often fairly simple and insanely catchy, fist-pumping Power Metal that in more than one way was instantly recognizable as RUNNING WILD.
Often intros serve next to no purpose and are little more than some atmospheric keyboards leading into the first song, in the case of these Germans, though, the more than two minutes of “Chamber Of Lies” are an actual little instrumental that set the mood for the whirlwind of “Whirlwind” to follow, rising in intensity until the first actual song breaks out with a double-bass barrage befitting the title and this track has everything that RUNNING WILD stand for and contains basically all of their characteristics: simple, catchy song structure, very characteristic riffing and these instantly gripping melodies that will not lose their appeal even after dozens of listens and last, but not least, Rolf’s trademark raspy voice that gives the songs that last bit of originality to push them over the edge.
And seriously, which genre-aficionado could resist the epic atmosphere of pounding “Black Wings Of Death”, the irresistible straightness of “Fistful Of Dynamite”, the immediate sing-along qualities of double-bass sweeper “Pile Of Skulls” or infectious catchiness of “Lead Or Gold”? The masterpiece of the album, though, is 11-minute closing epic “Treasure Island”, which is epic, catchy, dynamic and with a huge chorus that you can picture thousands of voice chanting into the night sky, not many bands can write stuff like this and RUNNING WILD have proved this more than once.
Now to come back to the question, which of the thirteen albums of the pirates was their best... I am torn between this one and following “Black Hand Inn”, let’s call it a tie, recommend this to any fan of Power Metal and get on with the keelhauling, shall we?
(Online April 19, 2010)