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It should be stated for both present company and posterity's sake that the author of this review does not consider himself part of the "Rolf Kasparek can do no wrong" camp. It is more a matter that Running Wild hasn't done anything terribly wrong in their extensive history as a band, and will most likely never do so, though hypothetically it could have happened at any time or may yet happen. Naturally there are varying degrees of goodness that have been displayed over the years, and it is quite easy to become torn between whether the 80s or 90s albums are the true testament of a legendary institution that first brought the world into the world of the heavy metal buccaneer. The passing of 2013 and the release of Resilient, Running Wild's 15th studio album and a proof to its own name, has done little to veer from the swashbuckling path and offers a fairly safe yet engaging new installment to the saga of renegades and cutthroats.
While Rolf has always been the central figure in Running Wild's history and output, the recent re-activation of the band two years prior to this album being released essentially solidified it as being a Rolf solo project. The first offering under this incarnation of the band and this album's predecessor Shadowmaker was moderately engaging, but among the weaker albums to bear the band's name, largely by leaning a bit more heavily on a hard rock sound that was a bit tamer and more repetitive than anything done previously. There were some strong songs, and it clearly had that up beat, crunchy vibe that comparable to the earlier 2000s albums that were generally better regarded than the controversial 2005 final offering before this band's brief hiatus Rogues En Vogue, but it came off similarly to said album to most long time fans. This album dials the clock back a bit to something along the lines of The Brotherhood and has a bit more pep and flash to it, though it is still very heavily trenched in early 80s heavy metal/hard rock territory at times.
There is a clear uptick in faster paced and more ambitious material on here that, in spite of coming with a fairly thin production that comes with a fairly flat sounding drum machine, carries this album quite well. The album's opener "Soldiers Of Fortune", in particular, ups the tempo to the point of being along the lines of something that could have been on their mid-90s material. Some comparable moments with some added melodic and riff happy charm occur on "The Drift" and the heavy rocking speeder "Fireheart". These songs are all fairly formulaic and don't quite reach the level of something off of Pile Of Skulls or Black Hand Inn, but they are plenty of fun and throw out some solid, Judas Priest inspired lead guitar magic. The only song that really breaks out of the typical verse/chorus orthodoxy of older heavy metal is the just under 10 minutes long epic "Bloody Island", which brings in some of that folksy acoustic and haunting chant theatrics that were a staple of the golden days of the band, and the meat and potatoes of the song is likewise enthralling, if maybe a bit mid-tempo bound.
Naturally this isn't an album built completely out of epic songwriting and speed, unlike the much lauded 90s material of Running Wild, though the safer material on here is by no means bad. The more mainline rocking songs with maybe a bit of radio appeal such as "Desert Rose" and the groovy and bluesy cruncher "Down To The Wire" have a sort of early 90s Scorpions shtick going on, and might well have secured a spot on Crazy World had they been given a posher production and had Klaus Meine doing the vocals. The extremely down beat title song "Resilient" is a bit harder hitting and could probably pass for a recent Saxon song, but generally feels a bit more like a rocker than a metal affair. Nevertheless, it all works fairly well as Rolf's fairly soulful and jagged edged vocal approach tends to work just as well with a basic rocking formula as it does with the more speed metal infused material.
It is understandable that an album like this would take a back seat to anything put out by Running Wild prior to Victory, it's all but impossible to beat such classics as Blazon Stone and Pile Of Skulls being written in the exact same style. But most of the negativity that has been thrown this album's way is based entirely on the use of a drum machine and the more toned down, early 80s heavy metal character mixed with lighter early 90s metal/rock elements that have been infused into much of the slower paced material, rather than the individual strength and memorability of each song. That's really this album's strong point, that most of the material on here is memorable, be it the catchy grooves of "Desert Rose" or the long-winded storytelling with a sea shanty vibe of "Bloody Island" that reminds of the days of old. It's far from the best thing out of Rolf's creative well, but it's equally as far from being as lame and tired sounding as it is often made out to be.
And oh man, I did it. I could have spend the rest of my Saturday night listening to some different, unexpected music from a band I never heard before, but I chose to submit myself to another recent record from Running Wild instead. Don't know why I do this to myself, really.
After making a half-hearted comeback with the lackluster "Shadowmaker", Running Wild (or Rolf Kasparek, as he's more than ever doing pretty much everything around here) tries to recapture a bit more of their former spirit with "Resilient", an album that even brings good old Jolly Roger back to ram down the message in no-uncertain terms. Running Wild's legacy will last forever of course, and Rock'n'Rolf surely earned it - but I have the distinct feeling "Resilient" only takes golden coins away from this treasure, without adding anything to it. All songs have a verse-bridge-chorus structure that is so worn out that even new bands would be somewhat ill-at-ease to employ; for long-time servers like Running Wild, such a lack of creativity is truly baffling. Give us something slightly different, Rolf, for Calico Jack's sake!
As I said about "Shadowmaker" previously, it's not that "Resilient" is a repulsively bad album - but if you listen to songs such as "Adventure Highway", "Desert Rose", "Crystal Gold" (I don't think you can write a more predictable Running Wild song than that) "Resilient" (with a very poor "resilient, we'll resist to the end" chorus that is somewhat embarassing), and "Fireheart" without a feeling of have-been-there-before then I reckon you deserve a plaque at Running Wild Fans' Hall of Fame. It's all as formulaic as it could possibly be, sometimes even sounding like a perverse kind of joke, like Rolf is pretty much having fun at our expenses - and oh well, perhaps he is.
Just so you don't say I'm writing all this out of malice, I think "Resilient" is a somewhat more enthusiastic record than its predecessor, with some decent tunes like "Run Riot" (it really seems Rock'n'Rolf is more at place with Hard Rock tunes these days, as this is a very acceptable one), "The Drift" and most of all "Blood Island", an epic number which is a near carbon-copy of old classic "Treasure Island" but still turns out to be the best track here by far. And I must concede that Rock'n'Rolf doesn't sound like he's just in it for the money: he actually seems to be enjoying it, which is not that good a thing I guess, because it's still terribly predictable and lame no matter how much fun he's having with it.
I can't help but wonder what motivates Rolf Kasparek to write the same songs over and over again, but I guess he doesn't need my approval to do whatever the hell he wants to, so what do I know? "Resilient" is an album that sounds utterly uninteresting and even a bit silly most of the time, but I guess it's exactly what Rolf Kasparek strives for: recycling the same old formulas until the world reach its very end, without putting any real effort on it. Running Wild is his lifetime achievement, not mine, so I won't hold any grudges on him of course - but it's sad that an once-respectable name became little more than an excuse for unambitious vanity releases like this one.
- originally published at drequon.blogspot.com
None in this local collective of dos and don'ts have been championing the return of the mighty metal pirates Running Wild as much as I, I feel. Well...maybe one or two folks...but as it stands, I was more than elated to pull my Adrian flag from half-mast upon news of a reunion and subsequent album. That being said, I can admit that while I dug "Shadowmaker", it still left plenty to be desired in more ways than one would think, but I was still hopeful against all odds for a true return to the cannon firing, Pope-pig sticking demons of Tortuga Bay in one way or another. Such hopes were made all the brighter with the one-off punch of Giant X, showing that Rolf still had enough of a fire under his boots to break out a killer metal album to some capacity, even if it was different in scope. Maybe he would take some of that energy and run wild once more?
That was the question, and with the release of "Resilient", could it happen...?
If ever Running Wild needed as big a gesture as they could muster to announce their return, this should have been it. But a year late is definitely better than not coming about at all, and as it stands this is a fine return to form in just about every possible way. What makes "Resilient" a better overall product than "Shadowmaker" is the noticeable sense of piss-headed rebellion in the face of bullshit musical trends, that very notion and attitude that was always present but seems more palpable here than anywhere else. There's a certain level of energy that's been missing since, say, "The Rivalry" or maybe even certain parts of "The Brotherhood" at the absolute latest, where it sounds like Mr. Rolf put his whole and everything into the writing and performing versus just going through the motions, that sense of adventure and a fist to the sky while facing the coming storm and fleets with a sneer, a swig of rum and a shot between the eyes. And while on a musical level things are still mid-paced versus tackling the more intense tempos of the past, the level of songwriting and performance is able to bypass whatever limitations are present in order to ensure that sense of awesomeness we've needed for longer than we deserved.
Despite being a 2013 album, the production has a delightfully rougher edge to it, not entirely analog but far more organic than the mirror-sheen gloss of "Shadowmaker", which in my eyes (and ears) works better for this kind of music than anything else. The guitars bite, the solos exude more class and skill than many contemporary axe-slingers out there, the bass is thankfully audible and works very well with the riffs and arrangements, Rolf's vocals are as snarly as before (if a little more worn out and unable to maintain certain higher registered melodies) and...OK, the drums are programmed once again, but I'm fine with that as they don't sound as out of place as they could have (and did back a number of albums ago...) given such a production approach and how, I say again, the way many drummers nowadays sound all fake and processed anyway through all those triggers, bells and whistles. I think we're used to it at this point, considering it's a two man operation these days unless they're able to rope in some proper rhythm section talent. But that's a notion for another day. So yeah. This rocks. Pretty damned hard, too.
At the end of the day, "Resilient" is the face load of blunderbuss fire I knew Running Wild still had, and those looking for a prime gauntlet fist full of of pure metal will not be disappointed here. Sharply melodic, crushing and with just that right amount of pith and vinegar, let's hope this will be the first in many more like-minded albums to come down the line. All hail.
The legendary German heavy metal band with the pirate image is back again and many critics claimed that “Resilient” sounded better than the controversially discussed comeback output “Shadowmaker” one year ago. I have to disagree. While the predecessor had a couple of truly catchy tracks that really grew on me, this new album is Running Wild's personal Costa Concordia and you know that the captain Rolf Kasparek is fully responsible here. If you compare this release to the Titanic, the weak production and the more and more obvious and lackluster drum computer are only the peak of a giant iceberg that makes this once famous ship sink. This is the band's worst record ever.
The song writing sounds extremely old-fashioned, repetitive and lacks charm, dynamism and originality. Almost every song on here sounds the same. The same worn-out mid-tempo riffs meet the same predictable guitar solos. The average bass guitar play and the artificially flavored drum computer are even worse and form a horribly weak rhythm section. The same limited vocal range meets the same lyrical topics over and over again. The choruses try to be epic and catchy but sound so predictable that it sounds almost childish and silly as if the whole album was at best written by a 12-year old geek who just discovered “Pirates of the Caribbean” on television and a few dusty heavy metal records forgotten by his father in the attic.
There are only one and a half decent songs on this album. The first one is the warmer and commercially flavored “Desert Rose” that could come from a band like Dokken. Even though this approach sounds aged and cheesy, this song clearly sounds different than the rest and has a quite positive attitude. It may only be a good average song all over but on this record, it’s the shining highlight. We also get another predictable attempt at an epic closure in form of “Bloody Island”. The track marks a few points with the atmospheric introduction, the use of sound samples and the decent use of acoustic guitars. But then again, this track is far too long for nothing at all. This kind of song would have been interesting if it had come out thirty years ago. Today, it’s only relevant for the few lost nostalgic fools who can’t stop living in the past and refuse all innovations and emerging genres that have appeared since 1984. It's clearly a hypocrite track written by numbers to satisfy the old fans who didn't like the previous output. In my opinion, even a song like "Dracula" is far better than this because the closer of "Shadowmaker" had at least a decent atmosphere and tried out a little something.
If you want to know the name of the worst song on here, I would cite “Fireheart”. The annoying, repetitive and retarded chorus is just a massive stinker and can't be beaten in terms of negativity.
Save your money for something different than this sad and irreparable shipwreck. If you like this kind of music, it’s probably even better to invest in clones such as Blazon Stone that released their debut record “Return To Port Royal” last year. If you think that the unnecessary limited edition with the two bonus tracks could be worth a try, then just don’t think about it. The two additional tracks are as irrelevant as most of the others on the regular edition. And guess what? Even the album cover is a nostalgic stinker where the band copies itself once again. From all points of view, the new Running Wild release is definitely the Andrea Doria among the 2013 metal releases. These old legends should just have gone in honor a while ago but maybe the just need to grab some quick cash at the expense of the fans. It would have been a much better idea for everybody to just remaster the classics and add a few new songs to it instead of releasing the abysmal and completely inelastic "Resilient".
Originally written for The Metal Observer
Honestly, I can't think of a more blundered finale to an epic saga in the history of storytelling. I know that's an altered quote from Spoony's review for Ultima IX, but the fact that he isn't a Running Wild fan shows that he doesn't understand true disappointment as far as I'm concerned. I mean yeah, Ultima IX is a hackneyed rush job that cornholed what roughly ten or eleven previous games had spent building up and was shit out to meet a hard deadline and failed to live up to all the promise the series had built and whatnot, but that's different than what Rolf has done here. Rolf had a legendary band, with a legacy nearly unmatched in the annals of metal history. Running Wild's first eight albums are all considered essential listening by most fans of the band and genre, with some people like me even thinking they were damn near untouchable even further than that (I personally think they were great through Victory), and they were starting to stumble with age. The Brotherhood flipflops between good fun to snore inducing vomit, and the less said about Rogues en Vogue, the better. But after a few years of silence, Rolf had decided to hang up his ceremonial robes and bow out gracefully. He gathered his band and performed one last time, with a set list in part chosen by fans, in front of thousands of boozed up and screaming fans at the biggest metal festival in Germany. It was an emotional departure, and a great swansong for a great band.
And then Peter Jordan happened.
Look, I know this is Rolf's baby, I know everything that's happened since the very first days of Granite Heart in the mid 70s has been at the behest of Rock'n'Rolf, but ever since Peter Jordan showed up, things went from "bad" to "unbearable". Rolf's obsession is 70s and 80s cock rock has never been a secret, he openly dedicated "Kiss of Death" from The Rivalry to KISS, and there have always been big hard rock songs from as far back as Port Royal, but they were never the focus until near the end, they never became ubiquitous until the last two albums before the initial disbanding. And I feel like Rolf's favorite yes-man probably had a pretty big hand in convincing him to resurrect the Running Wild name. Because let's face it, Running Wild, Toxic Taste, and Giant X have all been the same fucking band for the past eight years now. Rolf doesn't want to do Running Wild anymore, he doesn't want to write another Blazon Stone or Death or Glory, no matter how badly we fans want such a thing. Clearly, he's into stadium oriented buttrock, because that's what he keeps writing, and that's all he's been writing ever since Jordan started leeching off the man like the world's most heartbreaking parasite. The thing that sets this apart from Ultima IX is that Shadowmaker and Resilient weren't rushed or compromised, these albums are what the creator really wants to do. It's clear that Rolf has poured his heart into these tracks, and that makes the fact that they sound so unbelievably lazy and half-baked all the more heartbreaking.
On one hand, it's pretty neat to see Rolf being so productive again, releasing three albums in the span of little over a year and a half (because let's face it, Giant X is just Running Wild and vice versa, with the same shitty members, same shitty production, and same shitty buttrock songs), but clearly the man is running on a renewed fuel, his passion for music definitively reignited. It's just sad because he isn't writing Running Wild music anymore, and if he'd've just stuck with Giant X, I wouldn't be so profoundly offended by these last handful of albums he's released under the Running Wild name. I passed on reviewing Shadowmaker when it was new because there really wasn't anything to say about it. It was an offensive trainwreck of lame buttrock songs with only a couple tunes worth hearing. "Piece of the Action" was a decent Billy Idol song and "I Am Who I Am" at least sounded like a Running Wild song (albeit a rather uninspired b-side from The Brotherhood), but that's really all there was amidst a mire of bad "Me & the Boys" type songs. So how does Resilient differ?
Well, it's a lot less overtly arena rock I suppose, but it's still pretty weak. There's no outright offensive songs like "Me & the Boys", but it's pretty much an entire album full of "Black Shadow"s and "Riding on the Tide"s. It sounds more like Running Wild than the rest of the Giant X albums he's been releasing lately, but they're not very good Running Wild songs. It's an album that starts with filler, continues with filler, and nearly ends with filler. It'd be like if Pile of Skulls opened with "Roaring Thunder", and then had no other songs until "Treasure Island". Resilient is full of songs that sound like worse versions of better songs, but the songs they're emulating were always among the weakest on any given album. It's basically an album consisting of "Raging Fire", "Evilution", "Fight the Fire of Hate", "Land of Ice", "Lonewolf", "Man on the Moon", "Unation", and "Into the Fire". If that list of filler songs meant nothing to you, then I'm afraid we can't be friends.
At the very least, I can give this album some credit for its energy. It feels like this should have been released first instead of Shadowmaker. That album didn't sound like a man resurrecting his legendary metal band due to a renewed passion for the music, it sounded more like a tired old codger trying to desperately relive his glory days. Granted, Resilient still sounds like that, but it just feels more genuine. Unlike its predecessor, this doesn't start feeling tired and obligatory until the last handful of songs, everything from the opening to "Run Riot" at least sounds like Rolf had a smile on his face while writing and recording the songs. They're fun and upbeat, if nothing else. Now, they're not very good, mind you, but they do at least feel like they were written by a man who wanted to write them. There are a couple highlights, I will admit. I can't justify why, but I really like "Run Riot", it's probably the most familiar sounding song on the album, in the sense that it wouldn't have been out of place on an album like Victory (fuck you, that album rules, if you can't dig "Tsar", "Timeriders" or especially "The Hussar", then you are dead to me). It offers a sense of cozy nostalgia, a warmth of familiarity that I gladly welcome. And "Adventure Highway" isn't bad either, though not entirely striking.
I feel like the reason a song like "Adventure Highway" or "Fireheart" can stand out on this album is because the rest of the running time is so goddamn samey and uninteresting that anything approaching catchy is instantly caught in your mind. "Down to the Wire" and "Crystal Gold" are 100000% forgettable and completely unnecessary, and it has a lot to do with the very formulaic writing. Almost every song on the album sits comfortably around the four and a half minute mark, and they're all structured in a nearly identical and conventional pop structuring. Every single song is verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-chorus-fin. It never deviates, it's as bad as All That Remains or Kajagoogoo. That's not to say that Running Wild was always adventurous with their songwriting, but they never felt as paint-by-numbers tedious as they do here, and it really drags down what could logically be a lighthearted and fun hard rock album. Rolf even does that fucking thing he always does on "Desert Rose" and "Down to the Wire". You know what thing I'm talking about. It just sounds like he's going through the motions for most of the album, even if he's having fun with these motions for the first time in nearly a decade.
The production woes of the past are just as present here as they always have been. It was never completely clear to me until Shadowmaker, but Rolf's voice needs reverb. In this pristine, controlled environment, his signature snarling croon becomes the sound of a laughably arthritic old man trying to prolapse a hot dog out of himself. I'm not kidding when I say the final vocal flourish in the title track sounds damn near identical to the sound I make when wrestling with an unusually resilient poop. The guitar sound is strangely robotic as well, sounding almost industrial with how tinny and hollow it sounds. It doesn't sound like a guitar as much as it sounds like a really unconvincing MIDI patch, and when you couple that with Angelo Sasso's mechanically dull drum performance, you get a pretty disingenuous sounding record. Man, now that I think about it, if you don't believe the rumor of his death in 2007, Angelo Sasso is the longest tenured member Running Wild has ever had. Isn't that just the saddest fucking thing since Old Yeller?
But throughout all this, I've been noticeably ignoring one track in particular, the signature closing epic, "Bloody Island". Like every fan worth his salt, I recognize the brilliance in a track like "Treasure Island". The long buildup, the instantly memorable chorus, the extended soloing section in the middle, the legendary hooks and melodies, there's practically nothing wrong with that song, and it's rightfully regarded as one of the band's best songs nearly universally. They've never quite captured the same lightning in a bottle again, with "Genesis" and "The Ballad of William Kidd" both being great songs, but not quite on the same echelon as the godlike "Treasure Island", and "The Ghost" and "Dracula" (yeah yeah, I like that song too) both being serviceable and not complete embarrassments, with the only epic of theirs actually falling to utter shit being "The War", from the already snakebitten Rogues en Vogue. So how does "Bloody Island" stack up against such a pedigree? Fairly well, actually. It is without a doubt the best song to be found on Resilient, and easily the most "Running Wild-y" song featured here. It's pretty much a direct carbon copy of "Treasure Island", but it's almost unspeakably welcome on an album as dull and devoid of that legendary flash like this one. The main melody is straight out of the Blazon Stone era, the chorus is closer to The Brotherhood, but it's one of the good songs from that album at the very least. This is what the fans wanted to hear, this is what we wanted. Even if it wasn't quite as good as the late 80s and early 90s, we wanted to hear Rolf put his effort into doing what he does best: epic, classy melodies and strong, barbed hooks. I know that's exactly why I criticize an album like Death Magnetic, but really, Rolf has clearly defined his strengths in the past, and what he's been doing for the past decade is little more than a self indulgent vanity project. It's nice to see him doing what he loves, because he has earned it, but a little throwback like this shows that he isn't completely sapped out of his former magic, he just... doesn't want to do it anymore.
In a way, this is actually a more disappointing than Shadowmaker, because while that album was bad and boring, Resilient is bad, but even more boring and yet somehow shows some flashes of Rolf's former magic, something that was conspicuously absent on the previous album. Resilient is better, don't get me wrong, but at this point it may just be Stockholm Syndrome. Despite the slight step up in quality, this is still bad, still boring, still bland, and still disappointing. It's better than Shadowmaker, but do you know what's better than winning a silver medal at the Special Olympics? Not being retarded.
Originally written for Lair of the Bastard
"Gates to Purgatory" was my first Running Wild album. I acquired the record in a trade over the internet after making a promise to myself to expand my heavy metal boundaries, and Running Wild had seemed like an admirable asset. I had been all over the basics at the time—Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio-era Sabbath, etc.—so accepting "Gates to Purgatory" was quite simple. Catchy, metallic riffs and awesome choruses—the very essence of sluts, steel, and Satan. What a fantastic album! That was just the beginning of our relationship, however, as I consumed many of the band's records over the years, and still treasure most of them dearly. When Running Wild ended its run in 2009, it had made a lot of sense: Rolf Kasparek went out on top. There's "Rogues en Vogue" chained up in the basement, but hey, we all have our skeletons, right?
When Rolf announced he had been working on new Running Wild material, I was pumped. I had flashbacks to those juvenile days of "Gates to Purgatory," a young boy sitting in his room with a pair of headphones staring off into space as a spinning piece of plastic brought his world down into a land of leather and chains. As you see, Running Wild means a lot to me, so it shouldn't surprise you that "Shadowmaker" sounded like Rolf Kasparek personally coming to my house and throwing a pie in my fucking face. I don't know how to even describe "Shadowmaker." Hard rock with a Macbook on drums? A boring Running Wild that would rather stay sober and read the paper than conquer the seas and rail some whores? A vapid heavy metal journey where nothing happens at all? I suppose all three, and then some.
Listening to "Shadowmaker" was like coming home from an awful day of work and walking in on my friends and former girlfriends/fuckbuddies having an orgy with my headshot taped on their faces. Traumatic? Perhaps. I could only stare, unable to process or react, paralyzed by its bovine qualities. I gave it a generous rating (4.5 out of 10, I think) in my original review, though I haven't been able to muster up the gonads to once more sit through Rolf talking about his bros. I've tried, but it sucks way too much. I have to admit I once again felt that buzz of impending greatness when "Resilient" was announced. Hey, even the artwork looks like something that would've appeared on an old-school Running Wild offering, and the song titles really beckoned to me: “Bloody Island?” “Fireheart?” “Desert Rose?” Insert boner euphuism here.
I hate to disappoint you, but "Resilient" stinks. Not worse than "Shadowmaker," as it does contain some flares of Running Wild's old glory, but for the most part it's just Rolf and Peter Jordan playing lackluster hard rock to a drum machine's lifeless plodding—at least that's what I'm assuming it is, as no real drummer could sound so abysmal and empty. "Resilient" merely confirms that Rolf should've let Running Wild's spotless biography rest in peace, for now he and Jordan are not far from wrapping a ring of dynamite around Adrian's corpse and subsequently blowing a glorious band's historic legacy to kingdom come. It's been dressed up to appear like a Running Wild album without the most important quality of all: the actual intensity and passion of Running Wild.
"Resilient" is like a fourth-rate Running Wild tribute band, which is far better than the AC/DC crud Rolf used on "Shadowmaker." So right off the bat, Rolf and Jordan (plus Rolf's handy drum machine) kick out "Soldier of Fortune," which has a riff that sort of reminds me of Running Wild but is incredibly restrained and tame. It doesn't do anything special, but hey, it's not "Shadowmaker." The tunes following "Soldier of Fortune" continue the bland code of generic riffs, "drum" patterns that are paced identically with no fills or variation, lazy choruses, and Rolf moaning into the microphone like a guy who‘s about to be busted on To Catch A Predator. "Resilient" is insignificant from "Soldier of Fortune" to "The Drift"; just dull, monotonous, and mostly trivial shadows of Running Wild's former greatness.
Everything completely capsizes from here on out, however. "Desert Rose" is a cringe-worthy rock sonnet that wouldn't sound out of place on a Bon Jovi record, and "Fireheart" is devoid of hooking material and accomplishes precisely jack shit, much like the first four anthems. Then, three cuts that would've made excellent "Shadowmaker" b-sides—they suck the big one, obviously. Before I get to "Bloody Island," I have to say "Resilient" does very little for me during its first forty minutes. The riffs have no teeth, the awful production is fake and sterile, and the drums have been programmed to do the exact same pattern for each and every song. It seriously sounds like Rolf wrote the whole record in three hours. Also, why in the world is Rolf programming his drums? Drum machines are like musical methamphetamine binges, and they obviously sound repulsive. Making banal music isn't normal, but with a drum machine, it is. That’s my new PSA, tell your kids.
It's actually pretty funny how things have turned out for Running Wild, because they'd occasionally flirted with strong hard rock influences (see "Fire & Thunder" on "The Rivalry") that turned out nicely in the past. Here, there's no electricity to anything. The only song worth mentioning is "Bloody Island," a ten-minute epic about pirates and stuff. The riffs are actually decent, and there are, as shocking as this may be, actual signs of a group that is not frail and withered. It's still mired by production woes, but hearing "Bloody Island" after sitting through the other nine duds is like coming to an oasis of naked women and alcohol after walking through a labyrinth of Mormon propaganda. On the bright side, "Bloody Island" is the best Running Wild track on both "Shadowmaker" and "Resilient." Then again, that's like winning a participation ribbon in an elementary school field day event. Big deal.
"Resilient" teeters on the brink of going completely bankrupt on artistic and creative spectrums. "Resilient" sounds harmless during its best moments, but there sadly is not enough fire or passion to truly reignite the inferno of Running Wild. On top of that, there's an empty production job that sounds bovine, plus a large chunk of the record regresses back into the chambers of "Shadowmaker," and as you see, that's not a good thing in my eyes. In the end, "Resilient" is just another album plastered with the Running Wild moniker. You know how an excellent college football team will sometimes run up the score against a weaker school just to boost stats? That nagging feeling that tugs on the back of your mind to just leave or turn off the TV because it's been over for some time but the game just won't stop? That's what it's like to sit through "Resilient." Rolf, it’s time to take a knee.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Rolf has offered us yet another example of his extremely reliable, consistent ability to write catchy traditional metal/rock songs complete with his own brand of unmistakable and catcy riffs, hooks, and choruses. Resilient offers nothing "new" to the seasoned fan per se, and yet we are able to once again restore our confidence in the man who's delivered decades of worthy and classic albums throughout his long career.
Running Wild's earnest sound has always provided a unique inspiration to metal fans, and "Resilient" reinforces my belief that Rolf is among the most sincere and consistent metal songwriters in the history of the genre.
A possible complaint with this album could be that the tempo hasn't picked up much since The Rivalry. Speed metal isn't what you'll find here, but neither will you find the lack of energy and "hard rock" flavor of Rolf's post-2000 catalog. Instead, the listener will immediately take notice of the true metal vibes throughout the record. And while there is certainly an arena-rock element to Rolf's songwriting, "Resilient" seemlessly incorporates the catchiness and bombastic qualities of that aesthetic without compromising the hard edge that Running Wild's fans expect.
Given the "studio project" status that Running Wild has maintained for the past decade or so, it's somewhat disappointing to note that these songs can't possibly be backed by a highly-anticipated tour since the two core members mostly rely on hired hands for festival gigs and other large venues. On the other hand, this record seems to suggest a revitalized band, a renewal of Rolf's natural role in the metal community, and a strong feeling that the "Final Jolly Roger" came too soon to be taken seriously. Retirement should not be considered at this point, because this record's strength clearly indicates that Rolf and company are still able to deliver the goods with style and confidence.
"Shadowmaker" 's shortcomings as an album will seem less significant now that "Resilient" has emerged - a stronger, truer reflection of Rolf's metal vision that even casual fans will recognize immediately. HAILS!