• Piracy metal - A review of Running Wild's ''Rapid Foray''

    Running Wild - Rapid Foray (2016)

    Running Wild was once a legendary band that had developed a unique sound and style within the metal scene. This group has become an artificial, cringe-worthy and uninspired solo project that has passed its zenith more than two decades ago. The band has only released barely acceptable and plain horrible records for more than one and a half decades now. People thought that band leader Rolf Kasparek had finally understood the signs when he put his band to an end towards the end of the last decade but he has since revived the band and released two overall rather underwhelming records. Rapid Foray follows that tradition. This record isn’t as abominable as the uninspired slapstick effort Resilient but it doesn’t have the diversity, energy and flow of Shadowmaker. Dear fans, please stop living in the past and don’t make yourselves sad by buying this underperforming effort. By supporting this group and buying this album, you actively and progressively help a confused veteran destroying the legacy of his own band.

    The three opening tracks of this new album are among the worst I have heard in a very long time. One-dimensional recycled guitar riffs that would have already sounded dated three decades ago meet non-existing bass guitar sounds and a drum computer that sounds so sterile that it’s even obvious to unexperienced listeners that Running Wild is a plastic product on a lower level than a casting pop band on television. If compared to ambitious pop singers, the vocals on this disastrous opening trio are though completely invariable and lack any glimpse of creativity and passion. The lyrics are even worse as they aren’t even close to an actual coherent text structure or even a certain form of poetry. It sounds as if random words dealing with the band’s pirate image had been generated together to create nonsense such as ‘’Black skies, red flag, so hear the reaper’s calling – Thunder, lightning, all hell is breaking loose – Black skies, jet black, so fear the reaper’s calling – Hunter’s striking, your hand is on the loose’’ in the horrible opener ‘’Black Skies, Red Flag’’. I’m not expecting a lyrical masterpiece here but rhyming calling with calling and loose with loose and putting random half sentences together is below the minimum grade an elementary school student would get for a poetry project at school. An average young teenager who is learning English as a second language can express himself at least twice as good as Rolf Kasparek on this disasterpiece. Even Alestorm writes cleverer texts than Running Wild these days and our drunk friends from the United Kingdom aren’t even trying.

    It was terrible to make it through the first three abominable tunes and things get a little bit better. The title song ‘’Rapid Foray’’ sounds more dynamical as it offers more than one riff, a few addicting melodies and something like a coherent song structure. The three previous stinkers make this track sound like a masterpiece but from an objective point of view, this is a good average tune at best. ‘’By the Blood in Your Heart’’ is even better and comes around with a surprisingly emotional and epic vocal performance and a catchy chorus that gets supported by longing bagpipe sounds towards the end. This song sounds like a Grave Digger ballad that could have been released twenty years earlier which isn’t original by any means but it’s well executed. If you think that the band is building up some momentum now, I must disappoint you. The only other good song is the powerful and speedy fist-pumper ‘’Black Bart’’ which was rightfully chosen to represent this record in order to make people believe that Running Wild is back in strength.

    The end of the record isn’t as abominable as the beginning but it’s almost constantly weak. We get an overlong instrumental called ‘’The Depth of the Sea (Nautilus)’’ that is going nowhere and neither manages to build up some atmosphere nor to expose the technical qualities of the involved musicians and their beloved drum computer. The other songs offer forgettable pirate metal by numbers that are only minimally more interesting than the opening trio. ‘’Into the West’’ is probably the most interesting song among those tunes as it offers some memorable melodies and a solid guitar solo. This song is an attempt at being the party tune of the album and it does an acceptable job. The album ends with what is supposed to be its masterpiece, an epic tune called ‘’Last of the Mohicans’’ that is more than eleven minutes long and represents almost a fifth of the entire record. The song starts with a mildly amusing spoken word passage that sounds as if a robotic vocal sample of Blaze Bayley’s voice would talk to us. After an overlong overture, the song offers some nice riffing and fierce vocal parts that makes us temporarily forget the absence of a bass guitar and the overtly dominant fake drum sounds. The cheerful chorus is acceptable even though the lyrics sound like a hastily written novel summary by a student who needs to do his homework during lunch because his teacher is going to evaluate it in the early afternoon. The middle part includes some very short samples of Indian folk chants that are soon replaced by slow and chugging riffs leading to a solid but overall unspectacular solo section. As you might guess, this ambitious closer is equally balanced between good and bad parts and overall a really average and unspectacular tune. If you expected the band to keep the best until the end, you lost your bet.

    So here’s the final verdict: five average tunes meet six bad stinkers. Running Wild isn’t playing pirate metal but piracy metal. They are recycling outdated song ideas in a cheap attempt to steal your money. Don’t let them exploit you. Instead of spending one hour of your life on this coaster or frisbee, you could do much more useful things like completing a tax declaration, renewing your vaccinations or washing the dishes. Believe me, all these things are more pleasant than making it through Rapid Foray.

    Final rating: 25%

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