Running Wild: Rapid Foray (SPV)
Whilst many of their contemporaries are now grinding to a halt through death, old age or disease, Hamburg’s incredible Running Wild, formed in 1976 show the same longevity that applies to the mighty Maiden, Saxon and the like. With over 18 million sales and a massive following across much of Europe, Running Wild’s 16th album Rapid Foray is just splendid stuff. Although only Rolf Kasparek (Rock N Rolf) remains from the original line up, which I suppose undermines my opening praise, this is as good a speed metal album as I've heard for many a year. Sure it follows the traditional blue print which all the great German bands do, anthemic choruses, colossal riffs and stomping rhythm section but if it ain’t broke, then don't fix it. Opener Black Skies, Red Flag takes no prisoners, whilst Stick To Your Guns sits firmly in the Accept/Saxon ball park. The title track will no doubt induce large amounts of pogoing with its poppy feel and driving guitar.
Rapid Foray is predominantly written and performed by Rolf and guitarist Peter Jordan and the production, also by Kasparek is excellent. With a change of pace on tracks like The Depth Of The Sea (Nautilus) and a magnificent 11 minute closer Last Of The Mohicans this is a superb vintage power metal release that will no doubt be lapped up by their legions of fans. How about a slot at BOA next year please? 8/10 (Bloodstock Under Jolly Roger? I support that! - Ed)
Twisted Sister: Metal Meltdown Live (Loud & Proud)
The first live show after the death of drummer AJ Pero, recorded and filmed at The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vagas, Metal Meltdown is a decent record of the might of Twisted Sister in the live arena. Although you can't match seeing the band in the flesh, the tracks on this 90 minute release really do capture the heaviness that is not always apparent with this historic outfit, who are now drawing their 40+ year career to a close. From opener What You Don't Know to closer S.M.F, Sister go for it on what was clearly a massively emotionally charged evening.
Dee Snider proves his vocal quality on every track whilst the rest of the band including the exceptional drumming of Mike Portnoy are quite blisteringly ferocious. Although Snider delivers identical patter to that recently seen at their final UK show at BOA, the tribute to Pero is heartfelt and moving. What does let him down is some quite awkwardly inappropriate comments to the disabled section. Calling the “handicapped” section “pussies” for not getting down the front? Hmm, even tongue in cheek this makes uncomfortable listening. The production isn't brilliant and the crowd sound smaller and distant at times. Not quite the roar you’d expect. Still, with tracks like Under The Blade and Burn In Hell kicking ass and a stunningly good Come Out And Play you can't really knock it. I'd rather get hold of the set from BOA but in the meantime join the sick mutha fuckers one last time. 7/10
Vicious Rumors: Concussion Protocol (SPV)
In the midst of the maelstrom of thrash and power metal that stormed out of the Bay Area in the early 1980s, San Francisco outfit Vicious Rumors were both prominent and under the radar. Over 35 years later and the band continue to churn out high quality power fuelled metal with Concussion Protocol album number 12. With founder Geoff Thorpe continuing to thrash and shred with the best, this is a solid powerful reminder that, just like Running Wild, the old school often do it best. The stomp of Victim Of A Digital World and the all out assault of Chemical Slave with its Exodus infused attack are just two examples of the quality.
The band comprise Larry Howe on drums, guitarist Thaen Rasmussen, bassist Tilen Hudrap and the vocal prowess of Nick Hollerman and together with Thorpe they form a tight unit who deliver a quite excellent and vintage 12 track release. Catch the mix of Testament and Overkill on Chasing The Priest or the melodic hook laden Last Of Our Kind, with a riff to lose your mind to. Galloping bass lines introduce the foot stomping Take It Or Leave It which would sit neatly in the Metal Church catalogue, screaming guitar work and Hollerman’s Geoff Tate like screams combined with a more gutteral Udo Dirkschnieder delivery. Piece de resistance is the ten minute powerhouse of Life For A Life which has a filthy riff, Till Lindermann type lyrics and which you can't leave alone. It's that good. Once more the old school, albeit reinforced by some younger members are making a decent groove. Well worth checking out. 8/10