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Running Wild - Gates To Purgatory (Reissue)

Running Wild
Gates To Purgatory (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 25 September 2017, 4:11 PM

With recent back from the dead for the German Noise Records, series of reissues were decided upon. One of these special series were the label’s long period with RUNNING WILD, an era that lasted from 1984 up until 1995, consisting of nine studio albums, which some of them are considered as the peak of the band’s career. Each of the reissue copies is delivered with an impressive digi-packs explores the original album remastered along with extra tracks, some even as a second CD, of whether B-sides, reworked later versions and hard to come by EPs.  Furthermore, in order to get an up and close information of what happened in every turn, the whole lot of the albums includes the band’s leader Rolf Kasparek’s liner notes, Metal / Rock journalist extraordinaire Malcolm Dome’s outlooks and track to track descriptions. I will be covering the entire nine albums, accompanying you guys through an historical journey of one of Germany’s top bands that in my bill should have at a much higher ground that it eventually came to be.

Europe wasn’t probably ready for what would be called Pirate Metal, with its origins laid down in the city of Hamburg, Germany starting back in 1976 with a moniker named GRANITE HEARTS. It took three years for the group to reassemble under the name RUNNING WILD and to actually get down to business without kidding around. Given the right chances, after being critically acclaimed for their demos and compilation performances, the band were signed to a small local label named Noise Records, for a full length release. From there on, the RUNNING WILD team, led by vocalist / guitarist / songwriter Rolf Kasparek aka Rock N’ Rolf, was on its way to the far reaches of success and to become a pioneer in Metal music.

Taking part in notable compilations and splits such as 1983’s “German Metal Attack”, featuring GRAVE DIGGER and RAILWAY among the participants, and 1984’s “Death Metal” that featured the next Metal stars as HELLOWEEN and HELLHAMMER, resulted an album deal for the newcomer band under the RUNNING WILD moniker. At that point in time, Noise Records was a small independent label that started gathering the next wave of Metal bands in Germany and soon after, the world. Therefore, 1984 marked the announcement and release of the product of a low expenditure, titled “Gates To Purgatory”. Before the age of piracy, and the furious Speed Metal flavor, RUNNING WILD were at a different place.

The past studio work in the early 80s attained Kasparek and co. enough experience to move forward in their songwriting and it is evident in this version of the album. Although “Gates To Purgatory”’s spirit is still engulfed by a formulaic, somewhat generic, mold of Heavy Metal, the “German Metal Attack” songs, “Chains & Leather” and earlier version of “Adrian”, later to be called “Adrian S.O.S”, displayed the premature stage of the band. These duo of tunes proved that things were even more basic and less creative. That being the case, “Gates To Purgatory” demonstrated quite an improvement in comparison to the former. In general, the album feels like a wicked, yet also majestic, concoction of JUDAS PRIEST and VENOM. Other than the Satanic and leather imageries, followed by the assimilation of in kind lyrical concepts that RUNNING WILD took upon themselves, the music feels and breathes of the British Metal fume, crossing the outskirts of harmonic NWOBHM into signs of proto-Speed Metal.

“Diabolic Force” displays a song that is slightly beyond the riff based speedy beater, charging with darkened haze of an chorus and an impeccable melodic twin guitar showdown that hints of things to come in the later releases of the band. “Prisoner of Our Time” is a definitive anthem, the band’s most prominent in that time period, which even received a rerecorded version in the “Blazon Stone” era. At first it smelled of the old MERCYFUL FATE vibe, especially with its intro and main riff, yet its chorus showed an epic proportion that is memorable and in the same breath, simplistic. “Genghis Khan” surveys an historical point of view, a solid by the book song bearing attractive riffs and well written solo section that also shares the band’s to be known melodic tremolo action. “Soldiers of Hell” might be faster than the former mention tune, yet it is virtually of the same pattern, in particular the chorus style. Nonetheless, it feel loosen and free, with a classic harmonic guitars delivering the edge breaker as the main twin solo attraction. The song’s re-recorded version of 1991’s “The First Years Of Piracy”, sounds amazingly refreshed, energetic with a kind of electric spike that would turn your attention. The hook-laden “Black Demon” could have been a lost VENOM tune of the “At War With Satan” release, certainly the album’s stygian emblem of tainted steel and satanic mischief. Its musical accessibility is the name of the game, and its darkened heaviness is to be revered. Also recommended: “Iron Heads” and the two dropouts that didn’t get their place in the album, “Walpurgis Night” and “Satan”. I say too bad for the last two, but budget is budget.

As you will probably notice, RUNNING WILD’s songwriting formula, at least in this album’s distinct epoch, is heavily consistent between the songs, there are a few examples of out of the comfort zones. Anyhow, for a first official step, “Gates To Purgatory” demonstrated the toughness of German Heavy Metal, which isn’t related to ACCEPT, with honor.

Purchase Link: BMG Music

3 Star Rating

1. Victim of States Power
2. Black Demon
3. Preacher
4. Soldiers of Hell
5. Diabolic Force
6. Adrian S.O.S.
7. Genghis Khan
8. Prisoner of Our Time
9. Chains & Leather (‘Rock From Hell – German Metal Attack’ version)
10. Adrian (‘Rock From Hell – German Metal Attack’ version)
11. Walpurgis Night (The Sign of Women’s Fight) (12" single B-Side)
12. Satan (12" single B-Side)
13. Iron Heads (‘Death Metal’ version)
14. Bones to Ashes (‘Death Metal’ version)
15. Soldiers of Hell (1991 Re-recorded version)
16. Prisoner of Our Time (1991 Re-recorded version)
Rolf Kasparek - Vocals / Guitars
Gerald “Preacher” Warnecke - Guitars
Stephan Boriss - Bass
Wolfgang “Hasche” Hagemann - Drums
Record Label: Noise Records


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