Running Wild - Rogues en vogue 3.5/5

Reviewed: 3-25-05





Tracklist:

1. Draw the line
2. Angel of mercy
3. Skeleton dance
4. Skull & bones
5. Born bad, dying worse
6. Black gold
7. Soul vampires
8. Rogues en vogue
9. Winged and feathered
10. Dead man's road
11. The war
12. Cannonball tongue (bonus track)
13. Libertalia (bonus track)


Given the nature of the immutable force of metal that is Running Wild, my prior review of 'The brotherhood' is still rather relevant here. Although you can see evolution in the band's image and sound from their first CD, 'Gates to purgatory', released a mind boggling 21 years ago, it's still work that completely fits together and is in no way jarring. The band has remained, within some minor evolution of style and lyrics, frighteningly consistent during that time period, and 13 CDs. While there have been times where all the inspiration seems to have been drained out of the band (hard to avoid, when you consider), leading to the most mediocre works of 'Masquerade' and 'The rivalry', they still have never changed their overall style, or gone for the more commercially viable trends of whatever age they were playing in. While Rock'n'Rolf Kasparek remains the long-time sole remaining member of the band, the fact that his distinctive, mid-range and accented voice, and driving guitars are really front and center for the band means that the character has remained there, and so it remains here, on their 13th CD.

The band continues to be able to sound sharp, clear, and immediately enjoyable and infectious. If anything, while there are a couple speedy numbers on this CD, it remains, more than anything else, a pure, traditional heavy metal CD, rather than power metal or any other more popular sub-genre these days. It really seems to be a good choice, as if the band realized they are not going to quite capture the penultimate glory of 'Death or glory' or 'Blackhand inn', and instead put out a very good CD instead. And, "just plain metal" is very much what so many classic Running Wild songs were, "Chains and leather", "Prisoner of our time", "Unaschitschun", etc. Part of that may also be that Rolf's voice, after all this time, is similarly suited for doing what he knows it can do well, rather than reaching for histrionics and failing. Rolf plays all guitars on this CD, and they are great, memorable, clean, sharp, full of wonderful melodies and cutting riffs, and once traditional metal to the bone, but also reminding us of the clear, distinctive feeling and sound that is these crazy bunch of pirates. The lyrics convey the traditional Running Wild themes, a pirate song here and there, mixed with a general castigation of politics, war, and religion, and while not the greatest the world has ever seen, they are certainly more than adequate, and with some more specific history thrown in for World War I in "The war", they are certainly good enough to make the experience fully enjoyable throughout. Don't expect the most soul-searing metal CD of the year, but instead, wholly respectable metal comfort food from a metal stalwart that is 100% fun, enjoyable heavy metal.



CRAIG




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