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Running Wild - "Rapid Foray" (CD)

Running Wild - "Rapid Foray" CD cover image

"Rapid Foray" track listing:

1. Black Skies, Red Flag
2. Warmongers
3. Stick To Your Guns
4. Rapid Foray
5. By The Blood In Your Heart
6. The Depth Of The Sea - Nautilus (instr.)
7. Black Bart
8. Hellestrified
9. Blood Moon Rising
10. Into The West
11. Last Of The Mohicans

Reviewed by on August 29, 2016

"[I]f you still find those choruses sticking in your head…those riffs still make your hair stand up….and hearing that patented guitar tone forces an automatic rush of metallic pride to well up in your soul, then Rolf still has it."

It’s no secret that I’ve been a lifelong fan of Germany’s Running Wild. It is a musical love affair that transcends the boundary of reviewer and material. Running Wild was a way of life growing up – a lust for guitar, the wind of freedom in your hair and rock ‘n’ roll. Since the return to creating albums has come, Rock ‘n’ Rolf has been steadily steering the ship so the wind is at his back. There is no question that “Shadowmaker” and “Resilent” have been met with criticism, but always with an eye towards past comparisons without understanding Rolf as a songwriter in those times. The albums were excellent regardless, just not the “Black Hand Inn” that many were waiting for. “Rapid Foray” may finally bring it all back to where we started.

In 2016, Running Wild faces the same issues that plague all veteran bands: do you write songs for you, and damn the consequences or do you try to write in the same style you did half your age with the risk of sounding like recapturing the past. It seems like a no-win scenario with many fans and critics. For “Shadowmaker” it was clearly a product of the times, with Rolf desiring to write solid rock songs at a time when his dueling side project Giant-X was taking shape. Understanding this, “Shadowmaker” is a much better album than reviews gave it credit for, and “Black Hand Inn” it was not.

With “Resilient” there was a little of both, with Rolf making greater strides towards the past. On “Rapid Foray,” the material is firmly back on track with the past, as much as can be expected. Rolf stands waiting judgment as either a guy who still has it, or just another old musician failing to recapture his youth. For your author, Running Wild has a special pedestal in history that demands respect and that old mantra “good music is just good music” always prevails.

As on all Running Wild releases, there is a mix of power metal and rock anthems. Hard rocking rhythmic paces stand side by side with blistering speed that conjures pirate ship imagery regardless of its actual lyrical content. “Black Skies, Red Flag” sets the pace and “Warmongers” rams it home. At this point, I can hear Running Wild fans scream “Rolf is back!” Then you get into the point of every Running Wild album where the mid-paced tunes either sustain the release until the pace quickens or falls into the treasure chest of mediocre. As big of a fan as I am, there are a lot of songs that fall into that chest over the years. “Stick to Your Guns” is a foot tapping rocker that is nothing special – a bit of a “raw Ride” feel on the riff but not nearly as brilliant. It’s serviceable until the much more classic title track.

The stand out mid-pacer is “By the Blood In Your Heart” – which fans will either love or hate. The rare instrumental follows (“The Depth of the Sea – Nautilus”) until the album's stand out song “Black Bart.” Here is a song that embodies the spirit of Running Wild and is the best track Rolf has written since “Jenning’s Revenge.” “Hellestrified” (whatever that means) keeps up the pace and interest level as does “Blood Moon Rising” (another album favorite). “Into the West” falls right behind “Black Bart” as the top song on “Rapid Foray” – an instant classic. This brings us to the closing near 12 minute epic – “Last of the Mohicans” – falling perfectly in line with the typical Running Wild formula of a closing track enriched with history. “Rapid Foray” has every single element that comprised Running Wild’s most classic albums.

Capturing new fans might be a bit of a problem for Rolf, as times sure have changed and musical tastes more so. Keeping to the tried and true is exactly what I expect and I suspect Rolf cares even less about current trends. There comes a point after 37 years when expectations have to fall in line with what Running Wild is all about. Sudden and drastic changes will never happen and sounding precisely as in the days of “Port Royal” is out. For this reason, when you listen to “Rapid Foray” you certainly will not be shocked and you will have most definitely heard it all before. However, if you still find those choruses sticking in your head…those riffs still make your hair stand up….and hearing that patented guitar tone forces an automatic rush of metallic pride to well up in your soul, then Rolf still has it. “Rapid Foray” is the best of the post-break up era and even easily topples some earlier albums.

Highs: If there ever was a return to glory in the post-break up era, this is it.

Lows: Everything remains the same as it always has.

Bottom line: Running Wild finally makes that complete return and "Rapid Foray" into the hearts of diehard fans.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)