|Review: Running Wild - Under Jolly Roger|
|Under Jolly Roger|
Label: Noise Records
Year released: 1987
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: June 11, 2009
Reviewed by: Nahsil
for:Under Jolly Roger
Rated 4.57/5 (91.38%) (58 Votes)
We all have our biases, and we usually feel justified in them; well, meet Under Jolly Roger. I love it. I'm biased, am I justified? This was my first Running Wild album and perhaps my first true Heavy Metal album outside of the likes of Iron Maiden and other well-knowns. I probably had no idea what I was hearing when I pressed play for the first time, but I do know that it ruled then and it rules now.
UJR was a transitional album for the German metallers, acting as a coattail for their earlier less polished traditional/speed days and a shoehorn for their future Power Metal-and-pirates direction. Like Port Royal after it, UJR is a little more riff-based, a little heavier, a little darker and probably a few bpm slower than many of the albums that came later, namely Black Hand Inn and Death or Glory - fantastic releases in their own right, but stylistically several oceans apart from RW's first couple of voyages into unknown waters. Here, Captain Rolf and co. were more concerned with each song containing a sturdy main-mast (riff) and infectiously black plague-like chorus than reaching the more melodic and elaborately structured nature of songs like "Calico Jack" (which is AWESOME, on a side note). Essentially this album is a stripped down Heavy Metal barrage, though not quite as raw as what came before. I see it as a near perfect compromise between the styles, with just enough riffs to keep the Heavy Metal alive, but also possessing a mentality of melody and catchiness that foreshadows the days when they would write things like "Pirate Song".
If you've always wanted to know what it's like to be on the receiving end of a pirate onslaught, rejoice, because UJR is a monster album with intricately bold guitar work and unforgettable vocal deliveries in just about every song. Its most suitable physical analogy is a huge pirate ship demolishing all sorts of smaller vessels in its path. It doesn't stop for anyone or take any prisoners, no matter how wealthy or voluptuous! It may seem odd that a band could write so passionately about something as disconnected from modern times and affairs as (traditional) pirates, but Running Wild are totally convincing. There's no filler or gimmicks, just an energetic storm of lighthearted - but still musically interesting - Traditional Metal from these German masterminds. Where it seems modern "Pirate Metal" has a bigger interest in novelty than anything, RW took a concept and set it to music, and handled both the concept and the music very well. Not every track is concerned with looting and high seas treachery, but there's a pervasive atmosphere throughout and once you've heard the first track it's hard to forget the pirate feeling in the music as well as the lyrics. Raise the horns and/or black flag.
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