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It took a bunch of albums for Running Wild to find their identity; finally their sound became mature and serious on the amazing Under Jolly Roger on which they also chose their unique lyrical essence of piracy and history. By the late-80’s, power metal acts were getting rid of their primitive early phase sound, especially their peers from Helloween and Rage were making very solid records (Perfect Man, Keeper Of The Seven Keys) and Kasparek and co. had to improve their music too. With Port Royal, the band reached next level, introducing a new concept based on melody and a much refined instrumental execution. The enjoyable evil imagery and immature lyrics of their first works were gone and they were no longer a predictable Maiden/Venom imitation.
The word that will come to your mind after listening to the very first seconds of the album is undoubtedly “melody”. The opening title-track and “Conquistadores” are the greatest expression of these guys new music direction splendor, dynamic and loose though not particularly what we could tag as speed metal, also featuring mellow guitar lines and competent varied structures, instrumentally immaculate. Those compositions are musically strong as usual and admirably developed, classy and accessible, not intended to be violent and fast in vain only, because Running Wild are now putting emphasis on other elements like the quality of arrangements or instrumental consistency and difficulty. Velocity becomes a vital characteristic on other cuts instead, like “Warchild” and “Into The Arena”, which are rapid, outrageous with those sharper riffs attacking hard with sophistication and refinement still present, even making use of tender harmonies and of course, Kasparek’s constantly sweet voice providing this music of excellence and grace. Those might not be the most complicated of the pack, either “Mutiny” (That one has the worst ending ever) or “Blown To Kingdom Come” that are the most scruffy primitive moments here, a bit of a couple of empty fillers you can perfectly skip. On other hand, don’t ignore the instrumental “Final Gates”, another simple tune that proves the capacity of the band to construct convincing music from easy musical bases, actually just from that charming repetitive leading bass line. “Uaschitschun” and “Raging Fire” are even more casual and humble if we refer to their complexity and pretention; choruses get kinda infectious and insistent, but they also include some heavy riffs and admirable short instrumental parts. “Calico Jack” is the epic finale, it combines elements of each previous tune: Weighty riffs, rapid riffs, speed and progression, some simplicity and choruses to sing-along.
The modifications from the Under Jolly Roger album are evident, starting with the bigger attention Kasparek and co. put on melody and technique. Aggression is ignored at times while sophistication takes control on these cleaner numbers. The sound is very polished, guitars aren’t particularly dirty or distorted and surprisingly, Rolf’s tone is now polite, a total change from Running Wild’s previous offerings on which his crude vocals competed with Cronos’. As I already said, some rough riffs can be found though most of Moti’s guitar lines are generally delicate with a very refined texture. The instrumental level of this material is advanced, higher if you compare it with the first couple of records discreet stuff but not impossible. On other hand, the richer sequences, perfectionist pickin’ parts and the precise skilled riff alterations prove the truly promising possibilities of the group, who have turned into professional musicians away from the amateur level of the early days. They finally know what they want, no more unfocused attempts, no confusing schemes or other bands rip-offs. In this album they create a new concept of power metal, original and never conceived before by anybody else. I admit that instrumentally, this is nothing Iron Maiden, Accept on their most melodic songs or Saxon didn’t offer before with a bigger dose of speed and complication, obviously, but who else introduced piracy lyrics on this kind of music? They were the true pioneers in that point (forget about Alestorm), eventually making their music fascinating and unified, no longer lyrically generic and topical. This is the ideal soundtrack for movies like Rage of the Buccaneers, Polanski’s 1986 movie or any of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean saga (excuse me for being predictable), an awful lot of fun, refreshing and unusual, making a difference from the subgenre dungeons & dragons clichés.
This is one of the most solid Teutonic power metal records ever, absolutely memorable with the exception of 2 or 3 disposable minor numbers, the rest are all classics. Running Wild’s golden age starts here, although the relevance of Gates To Purgatory, Branded & Exiled and Under Jolly Roger shouldn’t be denied. Without those 3 necessary sound stages, this splendor wouldn’t have been achieved. I’m sure nobody could predict this tremendous improvement, back in the mid-80’s, either the surprising lyrical alteration, from evil to piracy. That’s what made these guys prevail and get the attention of power metal fans worldwide, their inventive and creative ideas that would reach peaks on the following album Death Or Glory.
After identifying themselves as Pirates of metal on Under Jolly Roger, Running Wild followed that album up with yet another slab of awesome heavy metal. Port Royal contains some terrific metal tunes including the title track, Uaschitschun and Conquistadors. The highlight of the record is Calico Jack a sweeping eight minute epic that echoes old school Iron Maiden. With each album, Running Wild increased the speed of their songs, with tighter rhythm and melodies which would continue on Death or Glory and culminate in the speed metal opus Blazon Stone. Port Royal is a more confident record that the bands previous albums. With Port Royal, they've finally got deeper into the pirate theme heavy metal to deliver a near flawless record. Port Royal contains some classic cuts by the band. Listening to Port Royal you hear a band that's becoming more confident with its song writing. Listeners will have a taste of an early Running Wild epic, 'Calico Jack', which s by far one of the best tracks on the record and a it's a fine way to close the album.
Port Royal is a great album from start to finish. Other tracks such as 'Warchild' and ''Mutiny'' are lesser known tunes on the album, but the still manage to be just as solid as the more known songs. Rock 'n' Rolf for me, is one heavy metal's most underrated musicians, and the song writing he displays on here is much more focused, precise, but also more relaxed. In other words the band is becoming more confident with who they are, and with stellar music on previous records, along with the music on this record, Running wild would perfect their craft even further. Port Royal is the album for me that really shows what Running Wild would become. This record is a blistering piece of heavy metal and fans of melodic metal such as Iron Maiden will enjoy this record. Even the somewhat weaker tracks are great. This is a powerful record that showcases Running Wild's creativity. Port Royal is a confident album that elevates the bands reputation a lot more. What I love the most about the album is the great, catchy song, the sing along choruses and Iron Maiden-esque song writing. If you enjoy German heavy metal, then Running Wild are a must to listen to. Their music is powerful, catchy, epic . Rock 'n' Rolf writes some of the best metal melodies since Maiden, and his brand of heavy metal is one that metal purists will certainly enjoy. Port Royal is yet another step in a great bands journey of delivering album after album of strong material. As a third album, Port Royal showcases key melodic structures that would come to define Running Wild's later work. Songs like "Calico Jack" and Conquistadors" and the very catchy title track set the standard for other classic Running Wild cuts. With Port Royal, Running Wild built up on their pirate image and crafted an underrated metal classic in the process.
Fans of 80's metal should definitely check this album out. Though Running Wild would mature a lot more as songwriters on future albums, Port Royal shows everything that would make them standout musicians in the German metal scene. Port Royal has everything from the epics to, the anthems to the straight up rockers. This is a strong record from to finish and despite some so-so production, this album is a brilliant slab of a band that delivers strong metal, album after album. Port Royal is an album by a band that becomes more relaxed with each record, and with this album, Running Wild have finally found their image and identity previously explored on Under Jolly Roger.
Listening to this album really makes me feel like I’m part of a band of pirates in the Caribbean (…) plundering and reaping the rewards of everything that’s worth a damn. Port Royal was a port in Jamaica that just so happened to be every pirate-fan’s dream city, but an asshole earthquake pretty much sunk the whole place in the late 17th century. It was the center of trade in the area where the British, French, and Spanish empires relied held onto, and pirates from all over the Atlantic used it as a haven. They all did it basically so Running Wild could base an album off of it, and it comes as no surprise that it beats the other three albums into a pulp!
To boot (with boots on), the production has been cleaned up, the drums have been toned down again, Rolf put forth a cleaner style, and the energy is greater than ever before. This album leans more in the heavy / power direction than the grumpier, blacker Under Jolly Roger, which means the riffs are blazing, the solos magnificent, and the songs overall a whole lot catchier! I love almost every single bit of it – to me, Rolf really nailed his sound with this one. He would perfect it on the next album, but this one is where he got most of his shit down right and tight.
My one big complaint is that a few of the lyrics and lines are pretty lame; check it:
“Uaschitschun”’s ending lines are a bit stupid not only in the execution, but the words themselves. The message is great and full of truth, as is the song (about the white man putting greed over nature), but Rolf could have picked some better words to use. These spoken lines apparently carry the album’s concept around, even though it’s only present in a few songs. The most prominent (and worst) offender is in the final track, with a whole section of the song devoted to the judge sentencing Calico Jack (the pirate who came up with the Jolly Roger flag) to death and Jack’s response. Again, neat idea, but the execution is retarded and the lines are stupid – some are good, but most of it is pathetic, which detracts from the song’s value.
…and that’s some retarded ass bullshit! Running Wild is pretty much like Maiden – they’re meant to have long songs that completely obliterate everything in existence, and this was the first song on a full-length by this band to exceed six minutes. It’s an epic track with a fantastic acoustic introduction that opens up with a riff so sick it’d make Dark Angel creep back into their grave. The riff makes its appearance two more times in the song and it’s insanely catchy – I’ll find myself revisiting the song just to hear it. Those who’ve heard it know what I’m talking about – the one that appears after 40 seconds, at 2:19 followed by Rolf’s amazing delivery, and again at the 7:30 in a outro-tsunami of harmony that eradicates all poseurs and Alestorm-amateurs who’ve never given Running Wild a listen.
I’d like to profess my love for Rolf’s vocals on that song, but it’s just as good everywhere else. All the choruses on this album are insanely catchy, as well as the riffs. The first intro kicks things off nicely (setting the atmosphere and all that), but when you hear the title track get into groove with that tempting riff assault, you know you’ll be running wild in your god damn room, car, garage, cave, fucking whatever. You literally feel like you’re getting a glimpse of Port Royal through “Port Royal” on Port Royal - Rolf doesn’t hold anything back. The album sounds legitimate and real, not fake or pampered – it couldn’t have been made at a better time. 1988 just feels like a perfect year for this to have been recorded and released, with all the great ‘80s production values backed by a band that knows how to play heavy metal like it is. There are some speed tendencies in there, like always, but this is generally a power / heavy metal album with tons of passion and fire to keep it burning.
It should be noted that the cover art immediately let’s you know that there’s a boozing-good time to be had inside. So much power and effort was put into this and I can only thank Rolf and the boys in making such a fantastic album. It’s the lightest album when compared to the previous three, but by that I mean the vocals are enthusiastic, the guitars vivid, the bass encouraging, and the drums very loyal to the cause. It’s an overall bloody fine effort with character and a personality that has lasted for decades and will continue to do so. The bass kept getting louder since the debut, and here it’s an essential part of the music as it droops and grooves it’s way through the eclectic and charging tunes that roar well beyond the high seas and the coasts that surround them.
I can’t even single out particular tracks as being the best (aside from “Calico Jack”) – this album is so damn good that I love them all. Sure, some mark a little higher than others like “Uaschitschun” and “Mutiny,” but this Port Royal just has every little bit of what I want in an album. I’m primarily an extreme metal fan, but I adore these heavy metal ones that stand the test of time. Rolf’s vocals are distant still, but ferocious and melodic as all hell and high water. He can wail with the best of them now, and the gang shouts accompany him are like his rabble. Even the instrumental showcases some very cryptic playing that presents a ton of bass skills (no surprise since it was written by Becker, the bass player at the time).
Drumming is wonderful; all around crashing and purging consistently without overuse of anything to call a ban on. Drum rolls and snare bombardments haven’t sounded this good since Maiden’s Somewhere In Time, and that’s a hard album to compete with. Thanks to decent mixing, they’ve toned it down from last time, making the guitars the primary showstopper (which is how it should have been from day one). The tone isn’t grinding anymore, but rich and powerful like prized treasure. It just sounds so blissful, momentous, and real – they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Just go for it; Rocky said it best, but I’m telling you now. You’ll love this album; whenever someone mentions Running Wild, this is the first album that comes to mind. Death Or Glory follows shortly, and while I do love that album a little more, it’s Port Royal that makes me feel right at home.
Time sure does fly. It's a little hard to believe it was over a year ago that I reviewed a handful of Running Wild's releases (that could definitely use a little fine tuning and changes with the scores). It's a little hard to admit thesedays, but Gamma Ray and early Helloween were probably the first two bands that truly fortified my passion for metal. This was probably a solid four years ago or so. Well, eventually I discovered Running Wild whom, I ended up giving the title - "they're probably my second favorite band!" While I'm not sure if I can still say that specifically (can't even begin to list how many bands I've come to love over the last two years or so), however I think it's very safe to say Running Wild is a band that has -not- aged at all for me, unlike Gamma Ray, Helloween, and well, most of the stuff I used to listen to several years ago. I can still go back to basically Running Wild's entire back discography from 1984 to about 1995 and really have a blast with their material. These legendary ships will definitely be sailing away for all eternity.
Anyways, Port Royal has always been a top favorite of mine from these pirates (mmm, cheese). Seems like a lot of people favor their previous release Under Jolly Roger a bit more than this sometimes, where they certainly developed their signature pirate demeanor, though with this album here I think they really took that formula and completely perfected it. Overall it's fairly safe to say this is a mix of traditional metal with some obvious speed/power metal touches but, above everything else it's all about that majestic atmosphere. I think Kasparek has seriously invented some of the best "pirate-esque" rhythms and riffs I've ever heard in heavy metal. They're insanely catchy and if you don't feel like you're walking around with a peg leg here preparing to set sail for some hidden islands in search of some forgotten treasures, tripping around with your bearded friends clashing your ale glasses together and smiling away with your few golden teeth ... then man, are you sure you've got the same album?
I think the best part about this album is that there just doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it at all. The energy here is real, nothing about this sounds fake or programmed. In terms of vocals, nobody could've fit the role better than Kasparek here (quite possibly his best performance here as well). The lyrical content works while never sounding overly cheesy or redundant. The production is fully consistent and very top notch with a flawlessly balanced mix. Songs are rather varied with a dead on tracklisting, so there's never a dull moment or song that'll make you zone off. In terms of originality, as I've been throwing around all over this review it's easy to say the atmosphere and general vibe sets this apart from anything else out there and really makes Running Wild who they are. It sounds like if you literally threw a mic, a bass, guitar, and drumset at some pirates who knew how to create music, this is probably what the product would've been. And above all, it's still pure metal!
The intro track leads into Port Royal which should instantly strike your mind with some pirate imagery, it's just completely obvious and perfect. Listen to those rhythms and hooks! Why aren't there more bands out there quite like this? (Alestor-who? Sorry, I didn't catch that). Raging Fire is a little softer, melodic, "valiant", song with a great buildup and Kasparek pretty much dominates with his classy singing. Well, from here the quality just continues to be explosive and never lets up. I can even praise the heavy bass driven instrumental Final Gates which again, captures this flawless irreplaceable pirate spirit displayed all throughout the entire album. I'm not sure why but the layered singing at the end of the speedier Warchild makes me think of good ol' Riot from their Fire Down Under era, it just seems to have that same classy touch. As with a lot of Running Wild's releases this one includes a longer epic number, the final track Calico Jack. Definitely a really dynamic and insanely unforgettable song. All in all, I'll just get straight to the point here. Anyone who enjoys and can respect classy traditional metal should have a blast with this, I don't know how anyone couldn't. You'll find a treasure box full of timeless gold here.
After Under Jolly Roger, where the pirate themes were introduced, RW decided to further develop that theme on their next album. And again, several good tunes are delivered.
First off, I would like to say that the songs, overall, are a tad better than UJR but the reason that I give this album the same score is the production on this is not up to par. I have to blast this disc to enjoy it and the production seems a little stale. Reminds me a bit of Testament's Souls in Black.
Anyhoo, back to the songs. After an intro, we the title song which is a RW standard. Try not to sing "Wooahhoooo" while listening to this. You can't help it. I just want an eye patch and a parrot on my shoulder when I hear this song. Also need to mention, the solo kicks ass.
"Raging Fire" is a perfect title for the next song because this does rage. "Into the Arena" is classic power metal fare with a big chorus. "Uaschitschun" is next and is also quite good. The topic changes to native indians and is done very well.
Then comes a strange instrumental "Final Gates". I say strange because metal bands these days don't take too many chances with instrumentals anymore. But in the late 80's and early 90's, bands seem to experiment more with instrumentals and play stuff that would not typically fit in a metal song. This is a good example. Its got this funky kind of bass line and if I didn't tell you it was RW, you would never guess. But, the guitar does come in and one hell of a lick is played. Pretty cool, overall.
After that comes one of RW's most famous and loved songs "Conquistadores". Its got it all and is a text book power metal song. In fact, when you listen to this song which is from 1988, you will see the impact this had on modern day power metal. However, many bands wish they could write such a great song.
"Blown to Kingdom Come" comes in next and is a bit slower with a little bit of a thrash riff thrown in. Not great but not a bad song. Then we have "Warchild" which is a mix of speed and thrash and is obviously a song about the effects of war. Again, nothing original or special but not bad either. Same thing with "Mutiny".
The album does come back though and close out with the excellent epic song "Calico Jack". It starts off with a ballady like intro but then gets epic on your ass and then kicks in the speed. The song is all over the place with mixing up different tempos and bit more complex song structures. Remember this is back in 1988 where many thrash bands were creating these type of songs and RW pulls it off big time. The lyrics are also very good and the guitar work is nothing short of exceptional. A RW classic.
Despite the not so great production, this is another great album by RW and is a must have for speed/power metal fans.
Running Wild's fourth studio album, and the second pirate-inspired album, is yet another classic metal album, and probably even better than it's predecessor Under Jolly Roger, though not by much.
This one is much cleaner in sound, production and songwriting. The guitar tone is not very raw at all, which leaves room for more melody and variety, which is exactly what this album does better than Under Jolly Roger.
The songwriting is pretty similar to UJR but obviously much more melodic. Into The Arena is a good example of this, featuring raging speed metal riffs but with a very solid and catchy sense of melody that still stays true to the raw power of songs like Merciless Game.
And concerning the production, the bass is also pretty damn loud at times, and extremely kickass.
Basically, Port Royal is traditional heavy metal with more atmosphere than your general band in the genre, and a whole lot of speed metal riffs thrown in, just like on the previous.
This one also has its fair share of total winners, just like any Running Wild album.
Port Royal and Into The Arena both have excellent melodic main riffs and extremely catchy vocals, mostly the latter. Uaschitschun (or however the hell you spell it) is extremely atmospheric, and has that extremely powerful chorus that makes it a timeless classic for the band.
Warchild has some pretty fucking crazy speed metal riffwork and an awesome, powerful chorus, and is another highlight. And of course the epic closer Calico Jack, which stands out as the second best song on here thanks to it's many mindblowing lead sections that style-wise are pretty similar to their later epic masterpiece Treasure Island.
But the best song on here is Conquistadores. Beginning with a groovy and bassy intro, we kick right into this insane speed metal song which owns you in so many ways I don't know where to start. The melodic main riff, the fast galloping under-vers riffs, Rock N' Rolfs crazy vocal performance, the powerful pre-chorus part, the anthemic but ultra-fast chorus... oh man, this is great shit. One of their best songs ever, and that's saying alot.
There are just two songs that kinda feel like filler. We have the short but still overlong instrumental Final Gates, which is close to 3 minutes and never gets anywhere at all.
The second is Blown To Kingdom Come. The opening riff is very strong and the midpaced anthemic chorus ain't bad, but aside from that it's extremely boring, especially the vocals. But aside from that, this is only killer shit, and definitely another essential in Running Wild's impressive catalogue of quality metal. Highly recommended.