Despite the fact that Running Wild has been around since the dawn of time (i.e. the early ’80s), I somehow managed to never hear much from them. The first time I listened to Therion’s cover of “Under Jolly Roger” (from 1997’s A’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming odd-and-ends album), I instantly loved it and wanted to at long last check out Running Wild. But that was almost a decade before you could fire up YouTube and overdose on whatever band you want. Even Google was still more than a year away! Back then our options were limited to listening to a friend’s CD/LP/tape, or driving to a thing we called a “record store,” and there were a few that I knew of back then that specialized in Metal. Now we can hear anything, no matter how obscure, with just a few clicks, but I used to travel hundreds of miles to buy music. A couple friends of mine owned a small Metal/Rock store about 50 miles away, so I drove over and they played quite a lot of Running Wild for me. After a few hours of not really being all that impressed, I bought a cassette (at the time, I only had a tape player in my car) -I don’t remember which one- and left. I listened to it on the way home and probably another few times, but for whatever reason, it simply didn’t stick in my brain, and that was that. Fast forward to 2012 and Shadowmaker. I played this once when it first arrived, likely in the background while I was doing something else, and then promptly forgot all about it in the avalanche of new releases I wade through every day. Months later, I rediscovered it in my “review” list, and thought I’d give it another try. Seconds into the first track, “Piece of the Action,” I realized that I was kind of singing along, and wondered how I could possibly know the song. Same thing with the next one, and the next… Thinking that maybe Shadowmaker was an all-covers album (although covers of what bands I could not imagine), I looked it up on the ever-helpful Metal-Archives.com only to discover that it wasn’t. All these Running Wild songs had wormed their way into my memory without me even realizing it! The Hard Rock elements take over in the kinda goofy “Me & the Boys,” which is a guilty pleasure at best that I wouldn’t want anyone to hear me listening to, but mostly this album is a near-perfect blend of traditional Heavy Metal with just a little Thrash, wrapped up in an absolutely flawless production that is supremely clear with a thick, heavy guitar tone (for this style - it’s not fucking early Entombed). And instantly memorable songs! I defy you to listen to Shadowmaker, especially the Thrashy title track, or “Into the Black,” without banging your head and singing along! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got about 30 years worth of Running Wild’s back-catalog to finally listen to.
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