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Albeit, this album does seem to be a shadow of almost everything that made Black Hand Inn what it is, but compared to a lot of other stuff out there this is not that bad at all. Possibly an acquired taste however. I remember getting this album about two years ago, and the first few times I tried listening to it I it didn't do much for me at all. Recently I thought I'd go back and go through it again, and my thoughts on it have definitely changed, but its still nothing I'll be worshipping like some of their previous releases.
There's probably only two ways to look at this album. If you loved Black Hand Inn, you might love this album, or you might even hate it. The issue here is that it sounds almost too much like Black Hand Inn from time to time. To many people that may be a good thing, and to others looking for diversity and originality it might be a disappointment. Personally I can go both ways in such an event, for a band like Running Wild though who have put out tons of albums, I'm not too bothered by the mimicking on this release. Maybe if this were a double album along with the former it would've gotten more appreciation, but who knows.
Getting more to the music, this is pretty much on par with a lot of the elements that made up Black Hand Inn, just a little more uninspired. The production is pretty much exactly the same as the former, making it another one of their better produced releases. The energy coming from the members never really comes close to their previous power. Kasparek vocals seem a bit lifeless and bored from time to time, and isn't nearly as convincing and enthralling as usual. He still puts in his best though. Jï¿½rg Michael's drumwork, which I absolutely praised on the former album doesn't do as much here as he did before. His drumming is a little more predictable, and isn't as off the wall or over the top like it was. Then again, its a lot more diverse than a lot of generic power metal out there, and comes close to stealing the show again from time to time. Just don't expect any overwhelming virtuosity that he displayed on Black Hand Inn here. And well, its obviously a thousand times more interesting than the drum machines to come. The bass doesn't really stand out, as its a bit hard to hear from time to time. Riffs, leads, solo's, hooks and whatnot that they were always good at punching out are still here, just not as fresh.
All in all, I just have to warn everyone to give this album a real fair shot. This is much more straight foward than their other stuff, a bit like Pile of Skulls, but lower on the emotion and energy. Looking through some of the former reviews, others seem to really dig this album. For me, it seems too much like a rehash of their former glory, but compared to many other things out there it still manages to hold its ground well. This is simply still a good album. But when someone brings up Running Wild, this album is probably one of their last ones that comes to mind. The majority of this disc is pretty solid, some songs are not as good as others, but for the most part this is worth your money if you've already got their other stuff. Very recommended for the worshipping fans, and for those looking for some catchy and simple heavy / power metal.