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So here we got another splendid album of the end of the 80’s. Just like what other Teutonic metal legends did, Running Wild reached their finest hour by the end of the decade. After 4 records, Rolf and co. finally found their characteristic sound. Their early noisy evil heavy metal music evolved, album by album, into something more memorable and unique. Each previous release definitely contributed to this culmination, because this brilliance wasn’t achieved in one day. In a time when most of their subgenre compatriots were making amazing stuff, Running Wild had to make a difference from the rest if they wanted to survive and compete with them.
The opening track makes clear these guys are reaching another level. “Riding The Storm” is a superb exhibition of melodic speed metal at its best. Although we shouldn’t take much conclusions yet. The following 3 tracks are musically weaker, rather unfocused, lacking direction and including rather tedious quiet mid-tempos (“Evilution” in particular). However, those cuts are immaculately performed and guitar lines properly chosen; nothing specially fresh or memorable, though. But don’t worry, the marvelous splendor begins with “Highland Glory (The Eternal Fight)”. From that tune to the last, the outstanding inspiration of Running Wild and their incredibly effective instrumental performance will impress you! “The Battle Of Waterloo” or the title-track, for instance, feature those remarkably skilled compostion-structures, plenty of exquisite melodic guitar lines, progressive instrumental passages and cool lyrics with Rolf totally inspired. This is the greatest thing Running Wild ever did. Each of these numbers is elaborated, featuring very solid riffs and stunning melody, reaching certain level of complexity and technique. Although Rolf and co. also provide the songs of insistent lyrics, at times kinda repetitive and catchy (“Renegade” or “Bad To The Bone”), making them ideal to sing along. Speed can also be found on Marooned and the epic opening tune. Most of songs don’t have such velocity, though. Rhythms are mid-paced, dynamic when they sometimes change, but mostly weighty not loose. It seems these guys are more focused on giving intensity, difficulty and consistency to their music. The result is completely unforgettable, impressing, an incredible exhibition of melodic power metal.
Superior skills, advanced technique and musically stronger cuts than ever before is what you will find here. It’s easy to notice this stuff is the result of a hard song-writing work, years of experience and burning ambition. Running Wild could have got stuck in their raw primitive sound of the mid-80’s, but Mr. Kasparek prefered to make the band’s sound improve considerably, trying to make something big, unique. Avoid cliches and topics, focus on the difficulty/variety of the structures, put bigger emphasis on melody: those were sensible choices to reach next level, to find their own musical patterns. This time I highlight the astonishing power and energy of their instrumental performance, which is totally remarkable. The strenghtful guitar lines of Rolf and Majk Moti are constantly solid, executed ideally, creating rich passages and breakas, supporting vocals when it’s time with efficiency. The pickin’ parts are very well prepared, planned; they don’t abuse of pedal effects excessively as most of their peers used to do back then, so there’s no tricks. Still Majk remains as one of the most underrated ignored guitarist virtuosos of Teutonic power metal. And the rhythmic section is showing no weakness either, defining the tempos correctly. Precision and abilities from both Jens Becker and Iain Finlay keep this music away from mediocrity and incompetence. Vocals by Kasparek deserve attention too. They are as classy as always, plenty of grace, not scruffy nor raspy here, fitting the melody of these numbers. His lyrics put attention again on piracy and history mostly, but evil is still present (Running Blood). Fortunately, the guys had luck with production/sound engineering this time, which is quite clear, but raw at the same time, well-balanced during the whole record.
With the exception of 3 weak numbers here, the rest is pure brilliance and magnificence. Running Wild’s finest moment, coolest lyrics and greatest instrumental display. Luckily, after this masterpiece, these guys would make more remarkable material without getting too cheesy or inoffensive (not like Helloween or Blind Guardian!). The tough 90’s were glorious times for this band, they welcomed the new decade in the best way possible. Highly recommended CD for those who find power metal too mellow, comical and sweet. These guys, along with their compatriots Rage, demonstrated there were a few exceptions in the subgenre.
To me, this is where Running Wild perfected their pirate formula. Under Jolly Roger and Port Royal were excellent records (arguably a bit uneven, but they're minor complaints - I love both albums to death), but they really hit their stride here. Calling it Running Wild's 'pirate era' might not be entirely accurate though. The lyrics deal with pirates, obviously, but they are in no way limited to just pirates. The lyrics on Death or Glory seem to focus on history, with a slight focus on pirates. I'm probably being too anal, but it kind of bothers me. Oh well, on to the music.
Running Wild's blend of heavy and power metal wasn't terribly unique or original, but they are so unbelievably good at it it doesn't really matter any more. Rolf has a real knack for writing incredible catchy riffs and memorable choruses. I could point to almost every song on here as a prime example, which is in an of itself a pretty impressive feat, but I feel like Riding The Storm is the greatest song on Death or Glory. I've heard people complain that the intro is too long, but I strongly disagree. It's a perfect mood setter for the song and the rest of the album. The fact that pretty much everything else about the song is perfect definitely helps though.
I'll admit that I used to feel like the album took a slight dip in quality after Riding the Storm, at least until Marooned kicked in. I still kind of feel that way, but the songs between them have really grown on me. Running Blood in particular, is fantastic, a somewhat bleaker song about religious persecution, with genuinely great lyrics that culminate in an amazing chorus. Renegade has the unfortunate job of following Riding The Storm, and I do consider it one of the weaker tracks on the album, but that don't let that deter you, because it's still pretty damn good. Pretty straightforward heavy metal, with a spoken word section that is actually incorporated well, and doesn't feel like a clumsy copy-and-paste job. Evilution and Highland Glory however, are, in my opinion at least, the weakest points. Highland Glory is a nice instrumental piece, but nothing more, and not up to par with the other songs on here. Evilution is by no means a bad song but it's not as brilliant as the other songs, and it goes on for about a minute longer than it should.
However, after Highland Glory, it's basically banger after banger after banger. Marooned is the bleakest song on here, a man, deserted by everyone and everything, about to die alone on an island, and the song captures that atmosphere perfectly. Bad To The Bone is an impossibly anthemic anthem (see what I did there?), and more politically oriented lyrically. Rolf basically calls out world leaders for the lying, corrupt bastards they are. Not that it even matters, he could be singing about bludgeoning babies to death with dead kittens - if it was this catchy I'd fully agree with it. Tortuga Bay is basically everything late 80s heavy/power metal should be. A killer riff, cool lyrics and a chorus that makes you want to pump your fist and book a ticket to Somalia. Death or Glory seems to constantly build up to the chorus, but that chorus is so unbelievably good they make it work. The Battle of Waterloo is the obligatory epic, and can proudly stand next to Treasure Island Genesis as being some of Rolf's finest songs ever. If you bought it on CD rather than vinyl, there's also March On, which is another fantastic track. As straight-forward as it gets, but with the songwriting to back it up.
This was, unfortunately, the last Running Wild full-length to feature Majk Moti and Ian Finlay. Sure, some of their replacements might have been more technically accomplished (especially in the drum department - Jörg Michael is formidable), but this line-up seemed to have real chemistry, they all worked together very well, and they seemed solid songwriters too. They have co-writing credits on many songs, and Death or Glory, the title track, is entirely their doing (one of the rare songs where Rolf has no writing credit whatsoever). The other thing about Finlay is that he and Jens Becker formed an incredible rhythm section. Jens Becker always seemed quite apt at writing fantastic bass lines with cool accents here and there, and both him and Finlay really knew how to complement the songs. The main focus are pretty much always the riffs and vocals, but they manage to add something to virtually every song here.
So there you have it. A great line-up, near-flawless writing and, most important of all, a bunch of absolutely killer songs. To me, it manages to stand out in Running Wild's excellent career as their strongest album. Some people might prefer Black Hand Inn, Port Royal or Pile of Skulls, but I think we can all agree this is what most heavy/power metal should aspire to be. At this point anthemic and epic might seem rather cliché if used to describe music, but I'm sorry, Death or Glory definitely warrants their use. All I can do is kick myself in the teeth for not checking them out sooner.
This is a rich treasure (speaking from a pirates view)!
Death or Glory is definitely one of the best epic speed metal albums of all times. No kidding! This is incredibly great! Out of RW's catalog, only Port Royal, Pile of Skulls, and Black Hand Inn come close to this.
With every spin of this record you will discover new cool riffs, leads, and hooks. Every song is a winner! There are no flaws. Just Renegade and Bad to the Bone cannot quite keep up to the high standard of the other songs. Their choruses are catchy but they tend to get boring after many listens. They are still very good though.
Riding the Storm with its "I´m a pirate and I am free and sailing through the storm against big waves and nobody can ever tell me what to do (besides the captain maybe)"-feeling is probably the best offering. Just listen to this: "Face in the wind we´re riding the storm, we stay our course whatever will come, wandering souls in the sea of the damned, death or glory uh we are riding the storm!" Is this great or what?
Evilution is another favorite of mine. Just listen to the main riff that kicks in when the first riff gets swallowed by the sound of the sea beaten up by storm. This riff takes you on another trip across dark and vast oceans. This song is not so much chorus oriented as most songs on this record. There are not even many vocals at all. It is just the great melodies and the epic atmosphere that will grab you.
Marooned starts with a lightning fast, yet very melodic riff. At the end there are great gang voices in the background that make you feel desperate and...well marooned. This is one of the fastest riffs I know that still is unique and cool. This is also what separates speed metal from power metal: it´s the lightning fast riffs. The tempo of the drums are not as fast as thrash but the riffs are while being a lot more melodic. Running Blood has a very gloomy atmosphere and again nice melodies and Tortuga Bay has one of the best choruses.
The long epic Battle of Waterloo is based on a Maiden-like guitar melody played by a single guitar. Imagine Afraid to Shoot Strangers (the harmonies in the middle part) but much better. The song is a bit slower than most of the rest.
Death or Glory is epic speed metal perfection! The melodies are very elaborate yet still catchy. The songs always take it to the point. You won´t have thoughts like "this is a great song, but it would be even better if..." No, no. The songs couldn't have been made any better for what they are and what they are meant to express. You have great singalong choruses in almost every song. The voice of Rock ´n Rolf is mostly kept in a high pitch, but without sounding goofy like, for example, some Helloween material. He still sounds cool somehow. Port Royal and Death or Glory are the only records to feature these high-pitched vocals. On other albums Rolf sounds rather raw
The production is a bit too crisp. I like it a little more meaty in the lower sounds. You can hear every instrument very clearly, especially Jens Beckers bass adding a great deal to the diversity of the music. Just listen to Highland Glory and you´ll know what I mean. Majk Moti and Rolf are a very good guitar duo. They are not as virtuoso as, for example, Criss Oliva from Savatage or John Petrucci from Dream Theater, but you can compare them to Iron Maiden's guitarists as they play in a melodic and recognizable style that defines the songs and is a big part of the songs' identities.
Later albums by Running Wild are still great (especially the above mentioned PoS and BHI), but they seem not to be as overflowing with ideas. This is comparable to Helloween's first EP and Walls of Jericho considering the abundance of leads and riffs, only that Death or Glory is many times cooler than everything that ever came from Helloween (I write this while I like their music, especially said albums).
Every fan of German eighties speed metal needs this. This is much better than anything released by Helloween, Grave Digger, Rage, or Blind Guardian in the eighties.
Grab this one even if it costs you more than a few bucks! It´s worth it!
"Death or Glory" is one of Running Wild's best albums, although they do have a lot of "best albums." After the classic "Port Royal" this album has a different and more epic feel about things, not in a serious way but just in the way certain tracks like the first one and the second to last one sound. It's actually pretty amazing in itself how these two albums were made in the space of two years, they are both so great. The band would eventually go on releasing classic after classic.
There are a couple of real masterpieces on this album and you don't need to be a genius to figure them out. Now I will run through the album track by track. The first masterpiece is the first track, "Riding the Storm", a song has been put together with overwhelming passion, creativity and energy. No where do Rolf's vocals shine more than in this track, the way the chorus is presented just has so much emotion. The riffs in this song thunder across at pace like a violent typhoon and stick in your head like no other, with supercharged, empowering verses and choruses that compliment each other marvelously, the drumming is probably at it's best in this unforgettable song. "Renegade" is another awesome track, slows things down a bit but still a nice catchy tune. "Evilution" slows things down even more, but this isn't a bad thing as it's well done, once the song almost hits the one minute mark the majestic guitars start and lead into a massive, chunky wombat of a riff, this is another solid song.
"Running Blood" is another great track, It's got a more stylish structure compared with the other songs but still possessed some genius riffing. "Highland Glory" is an odd instrumental which sounds a lot different and more diverse than the other songs too, it has a sequence of melodies which are quite effective. Now it's time to get down to business, "Marooned" is back at full speed with blinding rhythm guitar and you will notice some awesomely, effective guitar work after the first chorus, the drumming is also particularly great here, lot's of interesting fills, even the outro riffing is very powerful.
Here comes one from the single, "Bad to the Bone", a sing along classic, I don't care if you are a metal fan or not, you will sing along with this song and you will fucking love it. Totally awesome track. The next song, "Tortuga Bay" is pure speed metal insanity and it's just what the doctor ordered, the whole song is fun as hell to listen too and bang your damn head. The title track "Death or Glory" follows almost in the same vein but is not quite as fast but is still a very good number with a wonderful solo.
If only this was the last song, "The Battle of Waterloo" is the big fat epic everyone's talking about in the reviews below, and are they over hyping it a bit, well.. fuck no. This song is un-fucking-believable. It starts off with bagpipes which are supposed to remind us battle during the Napoleonic Era, they eventually lead into exceptional mid paced riffing which blends in perfectly with middle of the song where it gets majestic and marvelous, the way the second solo is presented can evoke some serious emotion. The song finishes with the great rhythm it started out with. This is truly a masterpiece. The only pretty boring track is the last one "March On", it doesn't really go anywhere and it's not really as interesting as the other tracks. In all honesty it would be a decent song on any other album, but the music on "Death or Glory" set the standard higher.
The production was the best at this point compared to all their other albums, If you like heavy/power/speed metal, then "Death or Glory" is the ultimate album.
What an album to say goodbye to the ‘80s with, huh? Port Royal destroyed the competition and marked the point where the band truly found their sound. The blend of heavy metal with speed metal energy and power metal enthusiasm was too much for one album to contain so quickly, but it only took a year (less, since recording is usually much earlier than the release date) to comeback with an album that surpasses even Port Royal. It’s hard to say where I rank Death Or Glory, but I can assure you it’s up there… way up there. The cover art doesn’t do this release a damn bit of justice (just to let you know)
The production got better, the vocals got better, the drumming got better (in every aspect), the tone got better, the Berlin wall was torn down, I mean everything that could possibly happen occurred and it’s just amazing the way this album turned out. Everything that you could have asked for just went poof, made its way onto this album, and now there’s just too much to praise this for. I’ll give the rundown on a few, namely the leads and how god damn catchy this album ended up being. For one, it’s twice as loud as the last album, Port Royal; not obnoxiously loud, either. The guitar tone is shredding-powerful and Rolf’s vocals aren’t very distant anymore – he’s very commanding and wails like crazy with a ton of soul. Get it through your head that the leads are infectious as fuck, and not like STD infectious – we’re talking more-than-Eiffel-65-infectious.
They’re so melodic, profound, impressive, and grand – the song I’m thinking about specifically (and humming to) is “The Battle Of Waterloo.” The bagpipe opener, the war drums clamoring from beneath the racket of musket fire, and that riff… dear Rolf that riff. You wrote that song, you wrote those lyrics, and you wrote that damn riff. Coupled with that harmony on the upside and we the song that killed “Calico Jack” in the epic department. “Riding The Storm” was the first song I heard from this album, but “The Battle Of Waterloo” shot me down like a troop formation’s volley. The song throughout is incredibly grand, launching the band into the stratosphere of classic, heroic legends. So many harmonies and melodies twisting, and the powerful guitar tone behind it makes the song a battle in itself; very catchy, interesting, and full of life.
While that song in particular is ripe with leads, the rest of the album holds its own ground in the midst of the war going on. Each one is loud, proud, and much more polished than before – no digital, glossy polish, so don’t be fooled. The first few albums felt very local and true, but this one goes beyond all expectations and throws itself right out onto the world stage, showing off everything it has to offer. Rolf and the gang knew this one would blow our minds, so they put everything into it and gave it the charm it deserves. The bass is hefty alongside skullcrushing riffs and that drum kit sounds fantastic. No more tin-tin bashing, and the echo still resonates long after the hits make their mark.
It’s just an overall steal on your part – if anything, this album is worth more than you could afford. The fact that this isn’t widely distributed or recognized more in the metal community (hell, the world) is a testament to mankind’s ignorance and / or stupidity. When anyone mentions heavy metal or it’s respective genres, Running Wild should be at the forefront (next to Maiden, of course). You don’t even have to be talking about heavy metal, for that matter. The band speaks for itself, people, and they’re sure to live on longer than you and I will.
Forget the current trend of “pirate metal” bands like Alestorm and Swashbuckle that drown all their credibility in swigs of centuries-old rum and cliché peg-leg tomfoolery. Disregard the Pirates of the Caribbean-styled gimmick music and the overindulgent “yo-ho” vocals. The place you’ll find actually credible music somewhat centered around pirates – though not fully, mind you – is Running Wild’s undeniable magnum opus, Death or Glory. Kasparek and his gang of miscreants have crafted a masterpiece that successfully merges nautical knowledge with metal mania – headbanging madness with historical piracy.
Opener “Riding the Storm” stands as the towering pinnacle of all Running Wild’s musical output, an accomplishment made even more remarkable considering the amount of exceptional material the band has released. Thundering, bullet-speed riffing, manic soloing, heavy, seaborne atmosphere, and Kasparek’s immortal refrain:
“Face in the wind, we ride the storm
We’ll stay our course, whatever may come
Wandering souls in the sea of the damned
Death or glory, oh, we are riding the storm!”
Similarly awe-inspiring nautical opuses dominate the album with overpowering atmospheric fluency, frequently amazing solos, and ridiculously incredible musicianship. Running Wild craft various moods throughout the album, including the dark, melodic touch present in “Devilution,” the speedy and ominous “Running Blood,” the frantic, claustrophobic “Marooned,” and the traditionally piratical “Tortuga Bay.” The swashbuckler aesthetic is interspersed throughout – but solidly links with the heavy metal rather than indulging in Alestorm-like maltreatment. Rolf Kasparek contributes his soaring, authoritarian vocals to each and every one of the songs with a voice unlike any other.
Running Wild also branch out into other, Maiden-like lyrical territory, an ability the “pirate metal” bands sorely lack. “The Battle of Waterloo” is an epic musical demonstration of the winter of the Napoleonic Wars. Ambitious (and awesome) bagpipes introduce the song, which soon erupts in full force, grandly and majestically retelling Bonaparte’s downfall while deftly avoiding the common pitfall of such tales: textbook lyrics. Running Wild take a page from Maiden’s book in dealing with “The Battle of Waterloo” – the lyrics read much more like quality poetry than a narcoleptic history lesson.
To anyone searching for a markedly unique work of heavy metal: this is a mandatory investment. In all of Running Wild’s legendary discography, Death or Glory stands alone in its level of quality and its exceptional display of pure musical genius. You’re doing yourself an enormous disservice if you don’t give this one a try.
“Madmen and fools, they left a sea of running blood…”
I should probably be writing Rolf Kasparek a letter of apology for this, but still, it was Alestorm that really pushed me into being a far bigger fan of Running Wild, and in particular this album. See, what Alestorm have been doing with the pirate theme is a near commendable watering and dumbing down in a way comparable to the efforts of bad teenage vampire fiction. Running Wild is the complete opposite of this half-hearted effort, and with Death or Glory they went all the way into further developing – and indeed, perfecting – this pirate theme. But it doesn’t stop there; as the pirate aspect is only a fragment, however notable, of the lyrical topics covered here. It’s a common misconception that pirates are the only one dealt with in the band’s, ugh, pirate era as the lyrics here can be more widely deemed as historical. Still, whereas, Under Jolly Roger merely dealt with pirates in a rather superficial manner, Death or Glory (and to a lesser extent its predecessor) is fully researched and astute, you won’t find the blithering tavern-dwelling idiocy of a certain Scotch band here. Running Wild understand that a pirate chose to be free, despite the hardships but they stuck with it because it felt like the right thing to do, just like how picking up a guitar and playing heavy metal is the right thing to do. There you go, pirates and heavy metal: tedious link.
Initially, I thought Running Wild to be very linear and I had some qualms about this, quite perplexing, really, especially when I consider AC/DC and Motörhead to be easily amongst my favourite bands. I supposed it links to that minor pirate prejudice, but again, you wouldn’t be far wrong in saying that Rolf only knows one chord and really likes heavy metal. Just look at a song like ‘Marooned’ it’s undoubtedly emotionally different to a lot here, in that this is an album is one which is very much connected to its lyrical sentiments. A man dying alone is going to be far removed from tales of swashbuckling on the high seas. Death or Glory is a far bleaker record than any other Running Wild album I’ve heard. It’s like a journey through history documenting all sorts of grievances and misfortune; even if the pirates were free they still had it rough… you know, you’re up against the fucking ocean! It is the aforementioned ‘Marooned’ that is the bleakest song here; it captures the mood of being stranded and left to die perfectly, still need proof that pirate lyrics in heavy metal doesn’t equate background music for kids’ parties? Well, I'm not giving you it, it seems you really want your children regaled with tales of terror and madness. Sometimes, if you’re amongst those who happen to make a regular habit of this sort of thing, you’ll find yourself musing “I’m listening to another heavy metal band, Christ!” but Running Wild is one of those rare bands who don’t seem to be doing anything out of the ordinary or unique (musically, at least) but have this irrepressible magic about them. Hell, you’ll probably find yourself shouting “I’m listening to another heavy metal band, fucking brilliant!” at some point during Death or Glory, if not you’re probably listening to the wrong genre.
‘Running Blood’ is another bleak, powerful song, and quite typical of its time as it’s all about religious persecution (you could see King Diamond’s The Eye or Manilla Road’s The Deluge for other examples of this). Lots of metal bands did and indeed, continue to do this, it’s simple really what with all the accusatory finger pointing that Tipper Gore and other bored, dirty-minded Washington house wives got up to it’s easy to take a step back and say “look at yourselves”. Of course, this is countered with the cold, hard fact that our sordid little incubus of rock ’n’ roll is in fact simply the devil’s work, end of story, really. Guess I’ll have to write far more “Sorry, I can’t listen to your music because my mum says you’re a Satanist” letters. So there are some great lyrics, which don’t obscure lack of actual meaning in big words. But this would somewhat incomplete without the rest, much like a girl who has banging chebs doesn’t necessarily have great beauty, it would be lacking something without more. Yes, I am making an analogy about the music, and Running Wild gets it very much right with this one. From the ghostly, soft shanty-like melodies in the quiet intro to a more wind-in-your-hair feel; it’s a deviant and bold heavy metal song, and one of the many times in which the band’s guitarists utilise the idea of two separate rhythm guitar parts. It’s similar to what Saxon did in the early 80s (although they certainly didn’t start this, but this a metal site so that’s the comparison!); one guitarist will take the more dominant rhythm part (I’ll refrain from calling it a lead as that entails upper-register pyrotechnics or at least it does in this context, as so to avoid confusion) and the other takes a back seat. Listen to Saxon’s ‘Taking Your Chances’ and you’ll see – hopefully – where I’m coming from, either that or I just like mentioning Saxon… it feels right!
In my earlier days with Running Wild I always enjoyed the non-pirate themed songs most (I’m thinking ‘Pile of Skulls’ in particular here), which was probably a reflection of then-current tastes, rather than lyrical quality. As such ‘Bad to the Bone’ was always a clear favourite with vociferous riffs and a chorus that just screams anthemic, and all other sorts of adjectives that get thrown at piss-poor bands like Hammerfall. You can’t help feeling some righteous indignation with a chorus that strong, all world leaders are lying, cheating bastards and Rolf knows it. The soloing is pretty nifty as well, a lot more energetic that the more traditionally melodic work on the rest of the album which is a little a odds from what one normally expects from late 80s heavy metal in that it’s not all that flash. Sing along and reaffirm your faith that heavy metal is good.
Further good heavy metal can be found in ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ which takes the listener back to a simple time in which military tactics mainly involved standing in a straight line and shooting at people whilst they reloaded as so to shoot back. But if the tactics were clumsy and somewhat amusing then the song has nothing to do with it. Rolf and co. are very bloody good at playing it simple and having this massive stoic feel to everything, it’s not hard to imagine yourself marching off to battle with that soundtrack. And that’s the success of a historically themed song; do you think of the actual events or are you too busy focusing on how it sounds like a dusty textbook underscored by electric guitars? It’s plain to see. I’ve always found Rolf’s gruff yet melodic voice lends itself very well to this sort of thing; it’s not flash or showy but earnest and honest, imagine Blaze Bayley if he had a lot more talent and you’re nearly there.
The title track is a curious one, very much comparable to ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ but less cohesive in that some sections are a tad clunky and I’m not sure that I can hear anyone shout, “Tally ho!” without sniggering. But it certainly has a lot going for it – with the pounding, galloping energy and that beast of a chorus. I’m sorry to dig into the Big Book of Heavy Metal Clichéd Adjectives but anthemic and epic really do spring to mind. In an album of great choruses this in particular stands out, fucking memorable stuff!
You know who put me off checking out Running Wild? Tom G. Warrior, a man who shouldn’t be allowed to make his own decisions let alone those of young men he’s never met… “Are you morbid?” how’s about are you balding rather ungracefully you pompous twat? Ahem, anyway, Death or Glory is the best Running Wild album I’ve heard yet, it’s certainly an interesting release even if the general consensus seems to be with Black Hand Inn, which in itself is a fine album especially if you like the idea of Jörg Michael sounding like post-accident Rick Allen (if he gained extra limbs and played abnormally fast, that is).
This album is probably Running Wild's catchiest yet, and thats saying a lot. Pirate-themed lyrics, fast riffs, pounding drums... this album can basically be summed up in one word: fun.
I think it's pretty obvious that the whole band is having a shitload of fun here, and are playing their hearts out. Everything sounds great. The band does have originality, yet their influences can unmistakably be heard as well. There's a Priest-ey riff or two, or there's a Maiden-esque chorus, Scorpions, Accept, and more. Yet this band is not ripping off. Originality is what they've got plenty of.
Except for the weak "March On", which simply didnt seem to grow on me a bit, the whole album is great. It's got everything you could ask for, and another element I feel is important to mention is the epic-ness. Just give yourself a listen to "Riding The Storm" or "Battle Of Waterloo" and tell me yourself if that is not the exact definition of 'epic'.
The music is without a doubt more melodic than their previous releases, and the top-notch production highlights this superbly. No instrument is drowned out, and each member has a chance to shine. The songwriting is extremely well done, music and lyric-wise, and definitely shows these guys have talent.
Guitars, as I mentioned above, are amazing. Riffs and solos are both highly memorable and fit in with the music VERY well. The vocals have had a huge improvement over the previous releases, and I've actually never heard anyone else say this before, but to me they sound a lot like Killers-era Paul Di'Anno.
The drumming is just about as perfect as you can get. Finlay does a great job of staying in rhythm, and instead of a constant pounding of the same tempo, each song has rhythm-changes done flawlessly.
Definitely an underrated power metal gem from an underrated band that did not get all the recognition they deserved, 'Death Or Glory' is a necessity in any metal collection.
Although I went ahead and reviewed Black Hand Inn awhile ago before this one, and I've given both these albums the same rating (97 being in the legendary zone for me), I do favor this album slightly more than Black Hand Inn, and this is overally probably my top favorite Running Wild album of all time. This entire disc just screams "classic traditional metal" at its finest, left and right. Are you ready to board the ship?
Running Wild was extremely extravagant in their earlier days, putting out incredible albums consistently. Death or Glory, is basically a perfection of what Port Royal and Under Jolly Roger were. The pirate theme is as clear as ever, and there's a huge sense of this laid back amazing traditional feel as well. Metal fans of any kind could probably enjoy this disc, easily. A huge chunk of these songs on this album are what Running Wild would eventually begin to play at many concerts, pretty often. There's definitely a great deal of classic tracks to be heard here.
Right off the bat, you're treated to one of Running Wild's best songs out there, "Riding the Storm", and from then on you're hooked and it just never slows down. This album has hands down some of their best rhythm's, riffs, and guitar leads in their entire career. And that's saying a lot considering they've always been known for putting out catchy riffs and hooks left and right. The solo's are extremely top notch and mesmerizing as well. Just when you thought "Marooned" had one of the coolest riff-driven intro's, you haven't heard anything yet until you get to "Tortuga Bay". Then there's a few epic pieces such as "The Battle of Waterloo" that take their pirate image to a whole new level! The bass is crazy in this song, as well as most of the songs, and the drumming always keeps the pace up throughout this whole album. All of the members are definitely at the top of their game here. This album is just so damn catchy, you won't be able to help but constantly keep your head banging!
And damn, is the production top notch. This is definitely Running Wild's best produced album compared to the previous albums, and even triumphs over the upcomming albums Blazing Stone and Pile of Skulls, somehow those albums drowned back down into poorer production quality, especially compared to this. Each instrument is extremely easy to hear, and the fancy sound effects from time to time sound great (usually intro's).
Then there's Rock´n´Rolf Kasparek's performance on here with his vocals. In my opinion, Kasparek has never sounded this good, even compared to later albums to come. His voice is extremely clear on this entire disc, driving the music to insane new heights. He seems to be having the time of his life, along with the rest of the crew, but he just really stands out with his top notch vocals throughout this whole album. The vibe his voice emits just further demonstrates the classic feel this whole album gives off, making it extremely enjoyable and accessible to anyone.
So, this album is it folks. Running Wild has put out more than a handful of incredible classics, and this is their best treasure to be found hands down. This is their pirate image at its finest with an explosive vibe that traditional heavy metal fans would love as well. If you've heard Running Wild's other albums and enjoyed them, chances are you've already gotten your hands on this. If you've somehow never heard of Running Wild, or have been meaning to check them out, this album would be the perfect introduction to the band and what they're all about. I give this album my highest recommendation!
The Battle of Waterlooooooo!!!
Though Running Wild have a number of excellent albums, I think this just might be my favorite; not because it's their best (I'd say that's "The Rivalry"), but because it is impossible to not have fun when listening to this album.
From the opening seconds of "Riding the Storm" you know you're in for a ride. Rolf and crew have crafted a remarkable collection of exciting heavy riffs and catchy choruses that keep you singing along all day and into the night. Ignoring the pointless and irritating instrumental track "Highland Glory," each of the first ten songs, has instantly memorable riffs and vocal parts, quite a feat.
More importantly, the songs are catchy in a very sing-along way, which combined with the up-tempo pace makes for an incredibly fun listen. I'd mention one song or the other, but it is just that hard to pick stand-outs, since they are all so fun.
What would a RW album be without a great epic song, and "The Battle of Waterloo" does not disappoint. Everything about this song, from the blazing main riff, immaculate lyrics, and powerful chorus is perfectly integrated to form the kind of epic metal song that RW is in the absolute elite of writing. As far as I'm concerned, it's the end of the album, as "March On" is pretty forgettable.
The production is very good, levels are not overboosted, so everything is heard very clearly. Drums and bass take a slight backseat to the guitars and vocals, but this suits the composition of this album perfectly.
All in all, this is a classic album, that any fan of heavy metal should have the glory of enjoying! Only a couple of throw-away songs keep it from a higher score.
I still haven't heard Running Wild's first two albums, but the ones that came after were pretty fucking solid in their own right. But released just one year after Port Royal, 1989's Death or Glory forges its way right to the top of all my Running Wild albums.
Death or Glory is built on a core of traditional heavy metal, but with elements of speed and power creating atmosphere and power far surpassing the two previous albums. The songwriting is more developed and thought-out, which you'll notice right from the unbelievable nearly 2 minute long instrumental intro to the opening track Riding The Storm.
The songwriting highlights the melodies far more than the rawer material on the two previous albums, and the production reflects this well, in being cleaner yet still maintaining a razor sharp harsh edge to the guitar tone. The drums at times seem slightly less powerful and prominent in the mix, but the bass is still as audible and striking as before.
This is probably their most diverse albums of what I've heard, and definitely the best.
Renegade is true heavy metal tune with the shout-along chorus, fast-paced but non speed metal riffwork, catchy drumming and general atmosphere and feeling. Bad To The Bone is more of the same, and is made completely legendary for that one godly main riff which alone is worth the price of this album.
Evilution is built on a series of atmospheric and powerful riffs and leads, and is totally kickass despite the somewhat boring vocal section.
Then we have the even more atmospheric Marooned, which is total speed metal and about one of the best songs they ever did. The riffs on this one are beyond amazing, it must be heard to be believed.
Tortuga Bay is also a very interesting tune, which varies between the classic heavy metal riff-style of Renegade with the speed metal and atmosphere combination of Marooned, and some really memorable vocal lines.
And of course the epic masterpiece The Battle of Waterloo, which is yet another song that must be heard to be believed. Everything from the bagpipe intro to the heavy-as-shit bass that gets things going to the mindblowing melodic main riff to the anthemic mid section to the fadeout ending is absolutely divine. But that's still not the best song on the album.
Riding The Storm wins that prize, and is the best Running Wild song ever. The long intro features these anthemic and powerful riffs and leads showcasing that feeling that only Rock N' Rolf & co can create more perfect than ever before or after. And his vocal performance is absolutely intense. Not to mention the crazy solo and mindblowing chorus. Yeah, this song, and album, owns you.
The three standout tracks here are as you might've figured Marooned, The Battle of Waterloo and Riding The Storm. But the rest is all pretty much equal in terms of quality and songwriting. But the feeling they all give off is entirely different, alot thanks to the more melodic and professional production job, which gives room for much more variety.
There are however two songs that stand out as being kinda sub-par and keep the album from being practically flawless. First, we have the instrumental semi-filler Highland Glory (The Eternal Fight), which has some nice melodies and prominent basslines, but is a bit too long and seems to go around in circles after one and a half minute. Then there is also the closer March On, which is completely unnecessary filler. "I know, let's not end the album with the epic masterpiece but rather a mediocre filler song." Nuff said about that.
Still, with two fillers we still get 9 totally awesome songs. And this is not Screaming For Vengeance-awesome. This is Painkiller-awesome. It's that good, I tell ya. And anything pirate-related in metal has to own.