Running Wild – Shadowmaker

Last week I wrote a post about Running Wild’s first album, “Gates to Purgatory”, in anticipation of this week’s release of “Shadowmaker.” Like so many bands lately, Running Wild opted to break up a few years ago and then after awhile changed their mind and decided to put out a new album. You will not hear any complaints from me, as Running Wild are one of my all-time favorite metal bands. So here they are with their fourteenth album, and I am chomping at the bit to get into it.

Running Wild is probably most known for pirate metal. They pretty much had that theme to themselves for years, until the arrival of Alestorm and Swashbuckle. None of these three bands sound much alike, but I guess pirate metal is a legit genre now. That said, “Shadowmaker” only barely touches on the topic this time around.

One thing that surprised me a little was tracks like album opener, “Piece of the Action” and track 6, “Me & The Boys.” The songs are pretty decent, but they sound much less like typical Running Wild and a lot more like late 80s happy hair metal songs. I cannot help but be reminded of “Piece of Your Action” by Motley Crue and “Me and the Boys” by Twisted Sister. These tracks do not actually sound like those older songs, the names just make me think of them. They do, however, sound as though they could have been released in that era. I have seen some people complain about this change to the Running Wild sound, but you know what, I am just glad to have them back. These songs are still pretty enjoyable, and tracks like “I Am Who I Am” more than pick up any slack.

What I have always liked about latter-era Running Wild is that they would play fast and melodic metal that was catchy despite Rolf’s rather gruff vocal style. Because no matter what Rolf sounds like during the verse, you could always count on Running Wild to come back with a massive gang vocal chorus that should be listed in the dictionary under “epic.” It always gets my blood pumping and makes me feel about a thousand feet tall. That is one of the best qualities of metal, is it not? “Shadowmaker” retains that essential element, so I am content.

To the haters out there, say what you will (you always do) but I love that Running Wild are back, and I love “Shadowmaker.” Weigh anchor and hoist the sails!