I come to this review as a complete novice and am therefore unsaddled with the baggage of a back catalogue that can inevitably colour one’s judgement when carrying out a review. All I knew about Running Wild prior to this review was that they are considered to be the pioneers of the niche genre that goes by the moniker of ‘pirate metal’. And there you have it, in a nutshell, the main reason why Running Wild and I had, until now, never crossed swords…or crossed bones if you’d prefer a cheesy pun!
I have since discovered that “Shadowmaker” is the first album since 2005’s “Rogues En Vogue” and also their first since their recent reformation having split in 2009. Led by Rolf Kasperak, these German metallers, more accurately play a brand of up-tempo and energetic music that seems to blend power metal with elements of traditional heavy metal à la Saxon on occasion and melodic hard rock. Put simply, if complexity and thought-provoking music is what you crave, you’re better off steering clear of Running Wild. They won’t win any awards for originality or boundary-breaking but then, that’s not their aim in any shape or form.
The album begins in party mode with the frivolity of ‘Piece Of The Action’ before the more typical seafaring content enters the fray via ‘Riding On The Tide’. I must admit that this track is extremely infectious. It has a demonstrably paint-by-numbers feel but the riffs are pretty good and the chorus puts a big smile on my face. Elsewhere, the title track offers some cool riffing and soloing, ‘Sailing Fire’ provides another catchy chorus whilst the album is brought to a close in suitably epic fashion thanks to the seven-plus minute ‘Dracula’. Complete with the clichéd but cool rain and church-bell opening, it has the feel of classic 80s heavy metal and is all the better for it.
The cheesy pun that I proffered earlier was actually deliberate because it fits perfectly with this album, given the large amounts of cheese that litters this record. For all of the decent riffing and hook-laden choruses, you are never far away from a moment of toe-curling cheese. Take ‘Me & The Boys’ as a perfect example of this. It is an appalling song that tries to be a fun but falls way short of the mark, particularly thanks to the cringe worthy a capella closing section.
Nevertheless, if you can ignore these moments of indiscretion and if you’re after a carefree, fun fifty minutes of music, you could do a lot worse than giving “Shadowmaker” your attention.