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This album got quite a load of negative reviews. I can understand some of the reasons. First of all, the artificial drum sound always quite sounds the same and is a quite negative factor for the dynamics of the songs. The vocals sound as if the band recruited a guy from a more or less convincing Blaze Bayley cover band. Overall, the production lacks power and a better job could have made the final result a lot more energizing. These things are all right.
But at the end of the day, I think that this album is a hell load of fun. Most of the songs are quite catchy and immediately invite to sing and bang along. Nevertheless, there are different atmospheres, styles and topics on the record from mid-tempo rockers like "Into The Black" over simple but efficient feel good party rock songs like "Me & The Boys" to rather epic and dark vibes as on the closing "Dracula". The changes are often small but no idea is too clearly copied from the past or even used twice as on the critically acclaimed and quite overrated "Stalingrad" from Accept that came out around the same time and where the same riffs are used over and over again on the same album.
Each time a song starts I already have a little smile on my face and find the track quite addictive, memorable and old school. The tracks are predictable, lack of deepness and are not innovating. But the band simply gets back to the basics and does what it knows best. It simply works for me. It's definitely better than many other bands of the same age that desperately try out the two extremes by changing nothing at all and releasing the same kind of music over and over again as Saxon do or by desperately trying to sound progressive by adding endless pointless introductions and solo passages to their songs as Iron Maiden do. The record we have here sounds cool and relaxed as if the band would play without any pressure and would give a damn about critics and expectations. This light feeling makes this album quite enjoyable despite its big production flaws. This kind of sound has become a rarity nowadays and it’s enjoyable to still stumble over this kind of music from time to time.
The guitar solos are short but very well done. The vocals sound down to earth, grounded and natural and simply fit to the somewhat simplistic music. The record has no true highlight but no true stinker as well and ultimately sounds very coherent and enjoyable to me from the beginning to the end without being repetitive. This record surely is no highlight in any metal collection and doesn't come close to the band's classics but it's definitely not the downfall many people claim it to be and better than what might have been expected after so many years of confusion within Running Wild. Just don’t compare this to the band’s earliest outputs and take it as an unexpected new start for a band that still enjoys what it plays – a solid dose of catchy hard rock and heavy metal that I really like to enjoy from time to time.