SPV Records [Release date 26.08.16]
On paper, 2012 looked like a great year for Herr Rolf Kasparek. Thirty six months after having disbanded Running Wild, a band whose influence in Heavy Metal is both well recorded and fairly undeniable, the singer/guitarist got back ‘into the arena’ (pun intended) and forged an alliance with the renowned independent label SPV.
Sadly, “Shadowmaker”, the first offering of this collaboration, was an album whose poor production and uninspired material made it by far the weakest release in the band’s musical arsenal. With 2013’s “Resilient” being a move towards the right direction, but hardly the collection of classic Running Wild material we all craved for, our hopes for such an offering were placed on its successor which is about to be released and is entitled “Rapid Foray”.
Well, let me be clear from the off; much as I hate to admit it, “Rapid Foray” is not the kind of album capable of competing with gems like “Port Royal” (1988), “Blazon Stone” (1991) or “Pile Of Skulls” (1992). What we have here is what can be described as “Resilient Pt II” – a collection of eleven compositions whose quality range from the breath-taking, all the way to the poor!
Listening to this album over and over again I couldn’t help myself thinking that, while a handful of songs really did shine through and won me over from the word ‘go’, certain others would never have come close of making the final selection process of a Running Wild album twenty years ago and that is a clear indication on how dangerously the band’s standards have lowered over the years.
Quality lead melodies, crunchy riffs and a memorable refrain is what characterises the opening tune “Black Skies Red Flag”, a song worth its weight in gold and similar plaudits ought to be given to its dynamic follow-up “Warmongers”.
It is at this point that Herr Kasparek decided to suck all this hard-won energy out of the album by incorporating the inoffensive but slightly boring “Stick To Your Guns” – a five minute track which is followed by the more up-tempo and slightly better structured same-titled composition.
Things turn from bad to worse in “By The Blood In Your Heart”, the type of boring anthemic piece that bands like Manowar and Hammerfall normally indulge in and if it was not for the amazing instrumental “The Depth Of The Sea – Nautilus” and the riff-led, classic-sounding opus “Black Bart” chances are that, by that stage, I would have certainly lost my interest in the album by that stage.
More memorable melodies, crunchy riffs and sing-along themes can be found in both “Hellestrified” and “Blood Moon Rising” and the disappointment caused by the below-par tunes of “Into The West” were instantly forgotten the moment the opening tunes of the eleven track opus “Last Of The Mohicans” made their much welcomed presence felt.
It is true; those of us who have been following Running Wild’s career from the early days became pretty spoiled by the quality of the material presented by the band during its mid-80s/mid 90s heyday and it is really us who find it very hard to accept anything other than perfection from Herr Rolf’s band.
Some young bands would have killed to be able to release an album like “Rapid Foray” but for a group of Running Wild’s status this is nothing more than an enjoyable release capable of providing its listener with a few moments of pure magic but also some of sheer horror. ***1/2
Review by Ioannis (John) Stefanis
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