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Running Wild - Pile Of Skulls (Reissue) Award winner

Running Wild
Pile Of Skulls (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 25 September 2017, 7:35 PM

Pieces Of Eight! Pieces Of Eight! Ha ha ha ha! After the release of 1991’s “Blazon Stone”, RUNNING WILD became one of the lions of the sea, one of the biggest bands in European Heavy Metal. In my view, the band had already prevailed and was into glory ride back in the “Death Or Glory” days while “Blazon Stone” served as yet another sweet cherry on the pie. Nonetheless, the most important thing was that both albums became so influential, so tremendous that the band’s elevation to grandeur was no less than imminent. A year later, 1992, and RUNNING WILD simply had to come up with an equal quality album, same as it was back when “Blazon Stone” was released. Following the return of ACCEPT’s Stefan Schwarzmann to man the skins and the recruiting of ex-AXEL RUDI PELL’s Thomas "Bodo" Smuszynski taking on the bass strings, “Pile Of Skulls” was set into the wild. And the way I see it, the monumental Teutonic heritage was well protected.

Putting aside the Wild West and a measure of the history, it was back to the sea, the ship was waiting for its privateers to return to their posts, ready to set sail and engage the might of the blue, with dangers roaming in every turn, on the way for a treasure hunt. Although something else had been bothering Rolf Kasparek, as he went on board vessel. So why not take a focus on it as a pirate. Therefore, “Pile Of Skulls” isn’t merely a Pirate Metal album, yet also dealt with the concept of corruption and the dishonorable abuse of power throughout mankind’s history. I felt that in a way, Kasparek’s view on the evil that men do has stretched arms even in present day and he meant for it to be heard. Within this remastered version’s booklet there are interesting insights of both music specialist Malcolm Dome and the interviewed Kasparek regarding the true essence of the theme behind the album.

Pretty much similar to the musical ongoings of “Blazon Stone”, RUNNING WILD remained consistent with the style, for second time barraging the early 90s with nothing other than pure Metal decisiveness. The band’s convergence of riffs, which combine undying animated heaviness and tantalizing harmonious licks, pounding hammered slow tempos to energetic fast paced racing and roaring melodic vocals remained steady, ever powerful and far reaching in influence. The songwriting preserved the decors and arrangements of the last two albums, maintaining the perennial quality that was further enhanced with skillfulness.

The intro “Chamber Of Lies” was as if a cloak was bit by bit being removed, as if a gate suddenly opened between worlds, and from here on then, thrown to the depth of a raging sea. And then, it started to pound with the massive Speed Metal pandemonium of “Whirlwind”, conveying a captivating main riff that is a pure power ride, in spirit tackling a being that is amid the tunes “Riding The Storm” and “Blazon Stone”, a true sensual molester. Amassing the anthemic vibe, the signs of twisted corruption of “Black Wings of Death” and the unstoppable force of “Roaring Thunder” had me chanting like any other hymn that this band has been manifesting. The former, at least for several moments, reminded me of a MANOWAR tune, yet with all due respect to the American giants, there is no sense in arguing with the Teutonic flame. After the band’s previous epic battle of “Battle Of Waterloo” years back, I thought that I would never get to know its match. Well, it has yet to come, but close enough is also good, isn’t it? Telling the famous legend of “Treasure Island”, thus the chosen title of the song, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is an impressive entry way into another universe, living the old tale through a source of strapping music and inspirational lyrics. “Lead or Gold”, the album’s lead single, asserted itself as one hell of a Pirate song, could be rendered as yet another anthem driven song, like its name, it is a flawless cannon blast.

This remastered version includes a second CD, featuring the recordings that accompanied the “Lead Or Gold” single along with new versions for some of the best songs out of RUNNING WILD’s 80s ventures, merely of the “Under Jolly Roger” and “Port Royal” albums. And like on every new version, there are reworked guitars featured on actual album’s songs. It was a sin not to include “Hanged, Drawn and Quartered” and “Win Or Be Drowned” within the original “Pile Of Skulls” release year ago, such amazing sing-alongs that made a colossus mark, excelled some of the original tracklist. “Beggar’s Night” was granted with a version that surpassed the original the next one that came afterwards, a pounding relentless and intensive force.

Like I said, close enough is also good. I think that “Pile Of Skulls” respected the band’s previous efforts. In terms of themes, it may have been a clear cut with its metaphors. Musically, it is RUNNING WILD’s robustness and dexterity playing at one of its finest hours.

Purchase Link: BMG Music

4 Star Rating

1. Chamber of Lies
2. Whirlwind
3. Sinister Eyes
4. Black Wings of Death
5. Fistful of Dynamite
6. Roaring Thunder
7. Pile of Skulls
8. Lead or Gold
9. White Buffalo
10. Jennings’ Revenge
11. Treasure Island

12. Beggar’s Night (‘92 Alternative Version)
13. Hanged, Drawn and Quartered
14. Win or Be Drowned
15. Uaschitschun (’92 Alternative Version)
16. Whirlwind (Reworked Version)
17. Treasure Island (Reworked Version)
Rolf Kasparek - Vocals / Guitars
Axel Morgan - Guitars
Thomas "Bodo" Smuszynski - Bass
Stefan Schwarzmann - Drums
Record Label: Noise Records


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Edited 19 August 2022

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