In April 2009, the Metal community lost one of Germany's greatest Metal bands when Running Wild announced that they were splitting up. Fast forward to October 2011 and they announced that not only were the band reforming but they would also be releasing a brand new album called 'Shadowmaker'. "So what's it like?" I hear you cry! Well, its ten tacks of solid rockkin' Heavy Metal running in at just over 50 minutes and what an epic return to form it is for the band.
Things start off well with 'Piece Of The Action' which is a nice mid-paced track with its solid rhythm guitar groove and a catchy chorus. 'Riding On The Tide' follows swiftly which picks up the pace slightly from the previous number, but it's another solid track from the band. In this track especially, Kasparek's vocals sound almost like that of Ian Gillan (of Deep Purple fame, should you need reminding!) A truly great vocal performance.
'I Am Who I Am' starts off with a nice solid backbeat which is soon joined by a great guitar riff and this track clearly demonstrates why Running Wild are held in such high regard - punchy guitars set up a blistering guitar solo and some great shouty chorus and verses that flow together effortlessly. Fantastic stuff.
'Black Shadow' slows the pace of the album down, but the band still manages to produce a supremely heavy song. Kasparek's vocals are slightly further back in the mix compared to some of the other songs on this album but the song benefits greatly from some powerhouse drumming here whilst there's yet another blinding guitar solo. This to me is certainly one of the highlights of the album.
As you can probably guess, 'Locomotion' is one of the faster tracks on the album with a solid guitar riff and suitably Heavy Metal lyrics like "...rage and fury..." and "...smoke and fire..." mixing in well with the speeding train lyrics.
'Me And The Boys' has a pounding drumbeat from the off and this track is sure to get the fists punching the air at a gig (although the band have said they won't tour in 2012 but who knows what 2013 holds!) and the simple but effective shouty chorus is an obvious piece of audience participation if the song was to be played live.
The title track 'Shadowmaker' picks up the frantic pace once more with another solid guitar solo with Kasparek and Jordan seemingly taking it in turns to try and outdo each other, whilst the bass and drums keep the track solidly on target. It's a marked contrast to 'Sailing Fire' which is a good fast song showing that sometimes the simplicity of the songs shows the band's strengths more than the complex songs. The track is solid and simplistic in approach but the song is much stronger for it with no fancy guitar work getting in the way of what is, essentially, a great Metal tune.
'Into The Black' has another solid riff with more great vocals from Kasparek and a solid guitar solo proving that in 2012, this band is back with a vengeance. The album draws to a close with 'Dracula' which is heralded by a clap of thunder and the obligatory tolling bell making way for a simple guitar opening before the rest of the band pile in for one last hurrah.
The subject matter is suitably gothic, imploring the listener to "...beware of the night cos he's out there..." building up to a final electrifying guitar solo. This song may not be the epic track that one expects, even though it clocks in at over seven minutes, but this is a truly great end to a great album.
Welcome back to Running Wild – we've been waiting a while for this album, but believe me, it's been worth that wait!
Available in a standard CD, CD/DVD and CD/Vinyl Box Set
Piece Of The Action
Riding On The Tide
I Am Who I Am
Me And The Boys
Into The Black
Rolf 'Rock N' Rolf' Kasparek – vocals/guitar
Peter “PJ” Jordan – guitar