Running Wild - Gates to Purgatory (Noise) 1984
1. "Victim of States
Running Wild's debut is much different than most of the rest of their catalogue. The music is still good-quality speed metal, but the band's lyrical themes are not of pirates, rather it is following the early speed metal trend of insipid Satanism. "Satan this and Satan that, blah, blah, blah." Obviously the band figured out how incredibly silly they sounded because by record number two, the band had already begun changing lyrical directions, steering clear of becoming another Venom clone. I've got to say also, that Rolf's vocals are amusing on this disc as his German accent is very thick.
Running Wild - Branded and Exiled (Noise) 1985
1."Branded and Exiled"
Second album for these German speed metallers. This one is produced a bit better than the first "Gates of Purgatory." In any case, a good early heavy metal album. The pirate image has not yet started on this one but the band has begun to dump the silly hell and brimstone lyrics.
Running Wild - Under Jolly Roger (Noise) 1987
1. "Under Jolly Roger"
All I have to say about this one is that I am glad it wasn't the first Running Wild album I had ever heard or it may have been the last. The pirate image that began with this album was laid on a bit too thick, even corrupting the music. I'm sure if I had I heard this in 1984 I may not have thought it was as bad as I did upon hearing it for the first time in 2000. Having said that, however, "Under Jolly Roger" is one of those albums that has grown on me over time and now I like it quite a bit. I'm not sure why, but now, after living with it for a year, I think "Under Jolly Roger" is actually better than "Branded & Exiled" and actually shows huge amounts of musical maturity. Gotta say though, the pirate thing threw me for a loop for at first.
Running Wild - Ready For Boarding (Noise) 1988
Smokin' live set that is a good summary of the band's early years. The production is raw and heavy, as a live album should be. The song selection is good as well, and includes one unreleased track "Purgatory" that the band dedicated to the PMRC. Personally I prefer most of the Running Wild discs after this live offering. I just think the band grew by leaps and bounds with each new album, both musically and lyrically. (thanks for filling in the missing gap in my Running Wild collection Kurt.)
Running Wild - Port Royal (Noise) 1988
1. "Intro" (:50)
Much better than "Under Jolly Roger" but still not up to par with some of the speed metal albums to come. "Port Royal" is a disc I picked up long after having such killer discs as "Pule of Skulls" and especially "The Rivalry." So, this is probably why these older discs don't hit me over the head like they would have if I had heard them in the late 80's. Still, I do like this album and have given it plenty of play time.
Running Wild-Death or Glory (Noise) 1989
Another excellent speed metal release from the pirates of Germany. With each cd, these guys have continued to craft their art. Somehow Running Wild have retained the classic power/speed metal sound yet they have also stayed very unique avoiding many of the cliches that were apparent on their first two albums. They really have developed a sound of their own that is not comparable to anyone else. One particular standout cut on this album is the instrumental "Highland Glory (The Eternal Fight)" that features some impressive "tap-on" bass work. Picked up this cd on eBay for around $7. There is also another version with the entire "The Privateer" ep included as bonus tracks.
Running Wild - Little Big Horn (Noise) 1991
1. "Little Big Horn"
This pre-release single for "Brazon Stone" is a rare collector's disc. The "Little Big Horn" at one was in big demand for the two unreleased tracks; "Billy the Kid" a fast and furious speed metal original and "Genocide" a classy Thin Lizzy cover. Of course once these two tracks were added to Blazon Stone as bonus tracks, the single was less in demand, but is still a cool disc for Running Wild collector's.
Running Wild-Blazon Stone (Noise) 1991
1. "Blazon Stone"
"Blazon Stone" is a very slick and high caliber speed metal disc that tones down the pirate image a bit and allows the music to be the main focus. One highlight is the very cool bass instrumental "Over the Rainbow" (no, it is not the Wizard of Oz song). Biggest highlight for me, however, is the obscure, but cool Thin Lizzy cover "Genocide." This was actually a surprise for me when I recieved this disc. I did not expect the "Little Big Horn" Maxi-single to be included as bonus tracks.
Running Wild - Pile of Skulls (Noise) 1992
1. "Chamber of Lies"
"Pile of Skulls" is the first Running Wild album I had ever heard and I must confess it is a good German power metal album. The theme of the album is about corruption and the abuse of power through history combined with the band's pirate image that they have upheld for years. This disc was originally released in 1992 but was recently re-released with four bonus songs.
Running Wild - Black Hand Inn (EMI) 1994
1. "The Curse"
My friend Olaf found this disc used for $4. I don't think I have ever seen a used Running Wild cd. Anyhow, the music is typical of Running Wild-speed riffs, double bass gallore, loads of cool guitar solos or in other words, excellent German speed metal! Favorite track is the epic 15 minute long, fantasy tale "Genesis."
Running Wild - Masquerade (Noise) 1995
1. "The Contract/The
Crypts of Hades" (2:20)
More speed infested metal madness from Rolf and crew. This particular album is a concept album based around those who sell themselves out to corruption (or the devil in this case). The album opens with a discussion between "The Three" and "Redcoal," who I suppose is a demon. The demon asks if they are willing to lie to the world and give up their very souls for fame and power. Of course The Three say yes and the story begins. "Masquerade," "Wheel of Doom" and "Lions of the Sea" feature some of the fasted double bassing I have ever heard. No drum machines here! (Hear that all you crappy black metal bands. We're talking REAL speed metal here, not cheesy drum machines!) Just a great power/speed metal disc overall and, in my opinion, ranking up at the top of Running Wild's catalogue. My copy is the limited edition wood box version, pictured above.
Running Wild - The Rivalry (GUN) 1998
1. "March of the Final
Battle (The End of All Evil)" (2:00)
1998 and Rock'n'Rolf and the boys are still hanging. I can't believe that after releasing an album almost every year since 1982 that Running Wild are still holding on to that pirate image. Oh well, the music on "Rivalry" is still excellent German power metal. The only way anyone would know of the image is by examining the pictures and digging very deep into the lyrics. Running Wild would hang well with the likes of Gamma Ray, Helloween or even Blind Guardian.
Running Wild - Victory/The Privateer EP (AGAT/Russia) 2000
A strange Russian version of "Victory" that includes the rare "The Privateer" EP on one CD. It is a bit strange to include this EP as part of "Victory" since these two recordings are more than six years apart. Regardless, happy to finally have the EP. All three tracks are typical of Running Wild; fast, furious, speed metal. The discography included shows that almost all the band's EPs and singles have been released together with their full length discs in Russia. Comes in an odd jewel case the hinges like a 2-CD case but is for a single CD.
Victory" is the first Running Wild that I know of that has been readily available in the U.S. Actually I was surprised to find this disc here at all but apparently the band has struck up a licensing agreement with Pavement Music in Arizona. Musically, "Victory" continues to explore the same musical territories as past Running Wild discs. Rolf knows how to write good quality speed metal so he continues to do what he does best, rather than veer off in other directions. The music is fast and furious, but seems a bit more controlled and even a bit more dynamic than some past material. Once again, there is lots of double bass, fast rhythms, and excellent guitar leads. "Revelation" is a speed metal rendition of the Beatles classic.
Running Wild - The Brotherhood (GUN) 2002
Hmmmm, seems 'ol Rolf is losing his edge on this one. I mean, there is just something missing here. The songs seem less metallic, less aggressive. It's almost like Rolf tried to go for more of a "rock 'n' roll" sound this time around. "Crossfire" is a good example of what I am talking about. It just lacks that metallic quality and those blazing riffs that Running Wild helped to pioneer. However, "The Brotherhood" isn't terrible by any stretch and there are some decent songs. "Welcome to Hell" recalls the more fast and furious Running Wild, the title track has a nice groove, the instrumental is excellent, and "Pirate Song" recalls those good 'ol days of Running Wild. I also enjoyed the epic "The Ghost" which at times reminded me of modern Maiden. To be honest though, I prefer the out-and-out blazing speed metal that Running Wild are known for to this more toned down style. A lukewarm review I suppose, but I guess I was hoping for something different. Still, I appreciate Rolf's dedication to real metal, and even though I don't think this is the band's finest effort, it's still heads and tail above the crap labeled 'metal' today. It may also be that "The Brotherhood" is one of theose discs that grow on me over time. We shall see. Long live real metal, long Running Wild!
Running Wild - Live (GUN) 2002
A live and loud offering from the pirates from Hamburg. "Live" (creative title, huh?) is 100 minutes of pure heavy metal. Rolf and Co. sample songs from almost every Running Wild album, except for "Masquerade" and their first two albums which were already captured live on "Ready for Boarding" some years ago. The song selection, along with the aggressive nature of live recording that was captured on tape and the killer production makes this an essential disc. If I were to introduce someone to Running Wild, this might be the best disc to do that. The booklet, while nothing extensive, contains some live photos from this show.
Running Wild - Rogues En Vogue (G.U.N. Records / BMG) 2005