without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Take note of the cover art, because like the last album, there’s a concept behind this one. Also like the last one, you’ll hardly give a shit, because the music will honestly blow your head off. Like most Running Wild intros, this one will get you in the groove of things, but the real kicker doesn’t come until the title track. While playing a bit too close to Black Hand Inn and Pile Of Skulls organization-wise, the title track here does all the proper things right away: a riff onslaught, booming production, gruff singing, and merciless drumming. Speed metal intensity right off the bat, with one of the most pissed off solos written by Rolf.
At first the production seemed a little off since the vocals sounded a bit buried, but alas I settled in soon enough and was able to enjoy Masquerade at its fullest. Rolf continues the loud, crunchy heavy metal he’s been doing more or less since 1989; if it isn’t broken, then just keep using the same formula again and again. For some this works (i.e. Bolt Thrower), and for Rolf this really works. Not only that, but Rolf writes some of the heaviest tracks in his career here; stuff like “Demonized,” the title track, the anthemic “Rebel At Heart,” and the interestingly titled “Metalhead.” All of these contain crunchy, ripping riffs with an authoritative attitude and some hefty backing from the rhythm section. The rest of the album doesn’t let up on the energy, but these tracks in particular hit the hardest.
Top the above info off with the fact that Rolf doesn’t give up on delivering catchy leads with Herrmann and hollering vast, sing-a-long choruses with those accented roars of his. Going back to “Rebel At Heart,” we already get a beastly main riff, but the giant chorus echoes in your head, and that solo section is an explosion on its own. This is the first album that doesn’t end with some monolith of a finale (if you don’t count bonus tracks) since Blazon Stone, giving listeners the more power to lend significance to other tracks. This kind of downplays the fulfillment of the full-length (Rolf would write tons of long tracks for future albums), but what’s given does not disappoint. Everything is played modestly and aggressively, with a production job thick and clear. Credence is given to the guitars, but the bass still grumbles like a rudder and the drums bash, crash, kick, and roll less “mechanically” than before.
So don’t fret! Let Rolf and co. present another keeper of a full-length to satisfy your speed / heavy metal craving. The eclectic vigor, harmonious leads, and masculine attitude speak for themselves. Giving Rolf the benefit of doubt actually has benefits that you can hear, as opposed to everyone else asking for one. It’s soon after Black Hand Inn, but also soon before things start to get sour on the ship.