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Rock From Rolf - 73%

OzzyApu, June 9th, 2010

As the first Running Wild demo presented to the public, all I can say is that the band has come a long way. Even during their golden age, this stuff sounds incredibly primitive, yet starkly similar. Revamp the production, give the guitars more harmonies, and let Rolf’s vocals go clean and you’ll pretty much have the sound of the late ‘80s / early ‘90s albums – songwriting is needed to actually reach that quality though, but even then the band doesn’t disappoint with these early tunes.

“Warchild” isn’t the same song as the one on Port Royal, yet it is laudable enough to keep the name. The drumming is extremely quiet, though: drum bass sounds like pillows being dropped on floors, the snares bongos in a cave, and the cymbals are practically static. The guitars are the most apparent instrument that you can actually hear, and the bass just resonates with booms to give the guitars some backing. The drumming is the same pummeling the entire song, but Rolf and the guitars are carrying the song entirely by themselves. I love the tone of the guitar, though – so powerful, wretched, and crusty. Rolf does the same harsh speaking / hoarse singing that characterized the band early on.

“Hallow The Hell” is an even shorter song that’s a fast-paced menace with the same production shortcomings. While it may look like I’m very harsh on the production, I actually dig it – I understand that this is an early demo and that Rolf was just about 20 years old by the time this was released, so the band was still developing. They weren’t getting the best equipment and a big budget, I know, so for what they do give us, I enjoy. Anyway, “Hallow The Hell” is too short for a real liking, but the bludgeoning guitars dance and trip like Black Sabbath with their “Paranoid” song.

Now “King Of The Midnight Fire” is a song that wasn’t added to the first Running Wild compilation, which is sad because it’s too awesome to dismiss. The clean intro, the dual guitar shark attack, Rolf letting loose some great lines – it’s the most put-together track on the demo. In fact, it sounds like something that came off the first full-length debut – reminds me of “Soldiers Of Hell” without the glorious lead bridge. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is the same song – the riffs are similar and Rolf sings with the same tempo. The only main difference is the spacey shredding that’s going on throughout the song. So I guess the song was later released, but just reworked a bit to become one of the better tracks on the debut.

If you want to hear these tracks, check out the Heavy Metal Like A Hammerblow compilation, which features the first three demos. You won’t get “King Of The Midnight Fire” with that compilation, but there are other ways to check it out. Thank hell Running Wild material is so readily available online, or else it’d be a bitch trying to find this stuff.