Much of the criticism I’ve seen leveled at Running Wild’s last two albums (post the ill-advised “That’s it, I’m not doing Running Wild anymore, that’s yer lot, farewell, I’m outta here…” statement of a few years back) is that they are now basically a solo project and not strictly Running Wild. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for fellow Germans Rage, Paradox or Grave Digger who also all have just the one founding member, so therefor another criticism is that it isn’t a true Running Wild sounding album. Well I find the vocals and guitar style of Running Wild so distinctive that it couldn’t be anyone else really. But the deciding factor in these releases being under the Running Wild banner rather than a solo title is surely…who the hell would buy “Rapid Foray…by Rock n’ Rolf”??? Nope, there’s a retrospective lesson there – pick a daft pseudonym in the early 80’s and you’re stuck with it…
Anyway, I reckon that’s all academic because not only is there a full set of band members credited on the album this time around, “Rapid Foray” is utterly Running Wild. At this point it needs to be noted that there was always a straight ahead Heavy Metal approach to Running Wild, that tends to sometimes be forgotten. Yeah, we all love the Power Metal Pirate shenanigans of “Under Jolly Rodger” onwards, but right from their preceding debut and “Branded and Exiled”, then running through all subsequent albums were tracks like ‘Raw Ride’, ‘Raging Fire’ and so forth that were just good, honest, mid-paced Heavy Metal. And that has been the sound of Running Wild more and more in the last 20 years.
So, if you change your mindset and go into a new Running Wild album expecting this type of Metal, it makes any moments of double-kick driven power metal all the more surprising and welcome – like the title track or the extremely enjoyable gallop of ‘Black Bart’, both of which really could have been on “Death Or Glory”! These tracks are all ably backed up by plenty of weighty Running Wild Metal tracks, some better than others, but that’s always been the case and is all down to personal taste. On the flip side and purely on a personal note, the chorus to ‘By The Blood In Your Heart’ was going well, nice and catchy…but then, out of nowhere – bagpipes! A step too far for me there Rolf…but then others might love it. See? Just another example of personal taste.
There has always been an element of Rolf covering all the Running Wild bases, playing it safe and offering nothing particularly new and innovative in recent times, but he’s been at this Heavy Metal lark for 35 years now – there is going to be a little familiarity in the songwriting! As a fan you can take this whichever way you want. If pushed, I’d liken “Rapid Foray” to the bands releases in the 90’s like “Pile Of Skulls”, “Black Hand Inn” etc. This is further highlighted by the epic 11 minute closing track ‘Last Of The Mohicans’, which has all the positive qualities of tracks like ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Genesis (The Making and the Fall of Man)’ from that era, and should please long-term fans greatly! It’s actually one of the best closing tracks to a Running Wild album that I’ve heard in many a year and a great way to close what is on the whole a damn fine, undeniably Running Wild album! Well done Rolf, there’s life in the old sea dog yet (well I had to do one pirate reference didn’t I?)
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)