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Stay Classy - 95%

OzzyApu, January 7th, 2010

We find ourselves smack-dab in the center of Running Wild’s golden age. Port Royal made them a powerhouse in the heavy metal scene while Death Or Glory kicked the genre in the balls. Hardly anything could compete, and Rolf wasn’t letting his hot streak die down anytime soon. Blazon Stone continues Death Or Glory’s prestigious harmonies and grandiose songs, making this one like a little brother living up to the older brother’s standards. Not much has changed, and we’re all thankful for that…

No loss of energy, no shameful riffs, no despondent solos; all the glory you could possibly imagine in a heavy metal band lives on this album. I mean, damn, Death Or Glory kicked our asses with epic monoliths, buoyant tunes, concert staples, and more; Blazon Stone tags in as the next opponent. These riffs are highly potent when it comes to killing poseurs, but transporting me into a more heroic place and time is something I don’t usually find happening. Blazon Stone is so classy that it makes you classy – decked out in killer boots and everything. You feel like this album just stands above all else on the social level, putting you in that historic mindset where chivalry wasn’t entirely dead and people still gave a damn about silk and gold.

Production is just as good as last time – loud, proud, crisp, and with a guitar tone that could squeeze the juice out of pineapples. The mixing is incredibly even but not exactly consistent; “Over The Rainbow” basically does away with consistency by upping the bass (Jens Becker did write the song), making for an incredibly serene track thanks to the blissful bass lines (the lead harmonies help out). Even on the non-Becker tracks Jens’ lines are bludgeoning and fried to the brim – very rich and dominant.

Already, the album features perhaps Running Wild’s greatest intro build-up for the first song (yes, it beats “Riding The Storm” in that department). That opening is just so grand, courageous, and makes you feel on top of the world. There have been better intros from the band before this, but that’s like one song (“The Battle Of Waterloo”). It’s just so moving and ambitious – Rolf really outdoes himself overall, with more of his killer tracks like “Lonewolf,” “Slavery,” and “White Masque” following in their master’s footsteps. These riffs chop, slice, and dice like no other – fast is the key, although every song is mid-paced and nasty. The riffs can only do so much to turn you into chopped vegetables, but the melodies and blazing harmonies are the ones making you stick around. Iron Maiden is likely the best comparison when it comes to solos; for you to exasperate over never writing (or performing) majestic, imperial solos like these is expected. Their inclusion makes every song on here a royal treat for any king, queen, or everyday metalhead.

If you were out in the field for five days straight without a shower and felt like you were about to pass out, then pop this in and you’ll feel revitalized in seconds. No energy drinks, coffee, or any of that other garbage that always bites you in the ass later on when you forget about it. These guitar leads have this vigor that’ll kick-start our puny brains and bodies, making the rest of the day feel fresh and new. Rolf did it, folks; he did it with Death Or Glory, too, but he did it again! Those drums will batter you constantly day in and day out while still remaining upbeat and colossal. “Little Big Horn” has to be the album’s most optimistic sounding track (so ironic), with Rolf’s vocals soaring high in the riff-winds. Those grainy, thunderous yells and wails do much to maintain the attitude and liveliness that’s kept Running Wild on top of their game since Port Royal.

For the band, this album is easily one of their best. No way you can dig Running Wild and skip this album – it doesn’t work that way. The songs are shorter, but the track length is still long; you’ll never feel tired of anything on here, which is a feat in itself. You’d be quite the fool to pass up Rolf’s delicious, sophisticated heavy metal…