Running Wild – “Crossing The Blades” EP (Steamhammer / SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
Formed in the mid 70s, Running Wild are one of Germany’s longest running heavy metal bands, having evolved through speed, power and later pirate metal – when it wasn’t even known by that name! Under the auspices of founder Rock N’ Rolf Kasparek (guitar, vocals), they have released no less than 16 albums, and numerous singles, EPs and compilations as well as playing Wacken Open Air, Sweden Rock, and Masters Of Rock in their time. Intended as a foretaste to their next full length album, this 4 tracker EP as usual goes well beyond the expected in being a gem of its own. With a distinct pirate / Celtic main melody driving the title track opener ‘Cross The Blades’, which is dedicated to the old musketeer motto “all for one and one for all”, the raw twin guitars backed by mid tempo double bass drumming exude plenty of class – and am I the only one thinking that at times the riff is close to Kiss’s ‘Love Gun’?! Still, if that’s the subtle twist then the main angle is that this version will be different to that offered on the new album, completely re-recorded and with a number of little changes, according to Rolf. The 2nd track is called ‘Stargazed’ and should be familiar to anyone who attended Wacken 2018 as it was presented exclusively to an enthusiastic response, thanks to the chugging Priest like riffs melded to a catchy hard rock chorus line proving the veteran prowess of the band in its perfect delivery of heaviness and melody especially in the twin guitars of Kasparek and Peter Jordan. Indeed, this blend owes its early influence to that of Kiss, who Kasparek saw in 1976 and led him to form his first band Granite Heart, so the cover of ‘Strutter’ comes as little surprise, although in the style of Running Wild with its steel raw guitars giving this classic hard rocker a much rougher edge – yes! Ending on an even higher note on ‘Ride On The Wild Side’, the dirty guitars rock out the killer melodic chorus that immediately grabs you and stays ringing in your ears long after – just as Rolf & co have intended to both satiate and appetise you until the summer – awesome!