Heavy metal buccaneers Running Wild return to form on their sixteenth album, successfully building a bridge to their glory days. Here’s what we thought of Rapid Foray.
Three time’s the charm, they say, and this would seem especially true for German power metal pirate Rolf Kasparek, captain of the good ship Running Wild. Where Shadowmaker was a lacklustre effort at best, Resilient was a step in the right direction, harking back to the glory days, but not quite being able to match those. Rapid Foray, however, starting with the album cover, is a giant leap forward, and offers the best Running Wild album this side of 2002’s The Brotherhood. No, it’s no Blazon Stone, Death or Glory or Pile of Skulls, but it’s damned close at times, which is something I had not really thought Kasparek was capable of anymore.
Black Skies, Red Flag and Warmongers is a terrific double attack to start off the album with, and really sounds like a throwback to the late eighties to early nineties, when the band was at its creative peak (think Under Jolly Roger to Black Hand Inn). No, the production still isn’t great, and the drum machine, albeit less so this time, still detracts a little from what is otherwise quite classic Running Wild fare. Kasparek still sounds his own, gruffy self and the riffing – because what is a Running Wild album without a host of big, crunchy, catchy riffs? – is typical, classic Rock ‘n Rolf stuff. Stick to Your Guns is a straight-forward rocker with a main riff reminiscent of Thin Lizzy, whilst By the Blood of Your Heart sounds a bit like Raise Your Fist 2.0., but it’s a nice anthemic break all the same.
But Rapid Foray gets at its best halfway through the record, starting off with the instrumental track The Depth Of The Sea – Nautilus, before charging into Black Bart. Black Bart could have been placed somewhere on Death or Glory or Black Hand Inn, and it still would have been one of the best songs on either of those albums. It’s that good, and it’s sounds like vintage Running Wild all the way through. This is the stuff that made you get into this band in the first place, and Kasparek is firing on all cylinders on this one. Hellectrified harks back to the days before Under Jolly Roger, with a more doomy sound and ditto lyrics, reminding a bit of some of the stuff on Branded and Exiled.
The closing three songs send Rapid Foray out on a high note. Blood Moon Rising has a classic Running Wild chorus, and should be good live on stage (during the handful of festival shows they will be doing, apparently), whilst Into the West offers some quality riffing and a great solo, overall reminding a bit of Pirate Song (from The Brotherhood). Last of the Mohicans is the patented Epic Album Closer™ we’ve come to expect from Rolf by now. It doesn’t quite hold a candle to Resilient’s Bloody Island and it might overstay its welcome by two or three minutes, but it’s a fitting closer to a scorcher of an album.
On Rapid Foray, for the first time in years, Running Wild gets just about all things right again, and manages to deliver an album in the vein of their classic albums. It isn’t a perfect album, but no Running Wild album is. The extra time between Resilient and this one – the result of a shoulder injury – seems to have been a fruitful one for Kasparek, and the material feels more honed and complete because of it. It makes for a more cohesive album, and if it’s extra time Rock ‘n Rolf needs to come up with a quality successor to Rapid Foray, I’ll be glad to wait an extra year.
Release: Out now
01. Black Skies, Red Flag (4:44)
02. Warmongers (4:29)
03. Stick To Your Guns (5:08)
04. Rapid Foray (4:47)
05. By The Blood In Your Heart (5:27)
06. The Depth Of The Sea – Nautilus (instrumental) (3:53)
07. Black Bart (5:06)
08. Hellectrified (4:22)
09. Blood Moon Rising (4:20)
10. Into The West (4:34)
11. Last Of The Mohicans (11:11)
Rolf Kasparek – vocals, guitars
Peter Jordan – guitar
Ole Hempelmann – bass
Michael Wolpers – drums
Review by Ralph Plug