Well, Running Wild is back! It wasn't that long ago we were reading about them calling it a day and sailing off into the proverbial sunset. Apparently they have changed their mind. Listening to SHADOWMAKER, maybe they shouldn't have reconsidered retirement.
To be fair here, that's a bit misleading. SHADOWMAKER is, pretty much, a middle of the road album that is as average as steamed rice served with a gourmet dinner. The hardcore fans that have loved everything from "Victims Of States Power" to "The Fall Of Dorkas" will probably like this. People that never got these pirate metallers will continue to not care. As a fan in passing of some of their material, I can say honestly that I'll probably never encounter this release again, but wouldn't turn off a song or two if they came on my Ipod shuffle. In short, SHADOWMAKER is pretty much standard fare for these feisty Germans.
There are some songs that are very good though. While this is more of a hard rock album that rubs up against the fringes of heavy metal on occasion, there are a few worthy moments on the disc. "I Am Who I Am" is a particularly rocking song with a great guitar riffs and solos provided by band leader Rolf Kasparek and Peter Jordan. Other songs, like "Black Shadow" , find Kasparek in decent voice and the band sounding strong.
The problem though is those moments are short lived. Overwhelmingly, the songs are just kind of there; laboring on and on without a whole lot of direction or inspiration. Listening to songs like "Locomotive", they have all the right elements (rockin' tempo, cool solo, decent vocals), but the song just lays there and is pretty uninspired. Adding on to that, the lyrics here are pretty lame as well. A song describing a train might work for infant television, but it's really not going to get close to reaching deep into the soul of any metalhead. Other songs, like "Shadowmaker" remind a bit of music Judas Priest might have created and left on the cutting room floor in the late 80s era of the band.
PITRIFF RATING - 51/100 - It is decent hard rock bordering on metal, but that's about the best I can say for SHADOWMAKER. I doubt any metalhead would listen to this and absolutely hate it. I also doubt that those fans not claiming Running Wild as "their band" will even remember any of these songs a week after hearing them. SHADOWMAKER is the bran muffin of metal in 2012. I have a friend who holds Running Wild as one of his favorite bands, and he claims the songs sound like Rock N' Rolf's side project Toxic Taste. I'll take his word for that, because this doesn't remind me much of the great German metal they are known for. Pretty average stuff.