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01 Piece Of The Action
02 Riding On The Tide
03 I am Who I am
04 Black Shadow
05 Locomotive
06 Me & The Boys
07 Shadowmaker
08 Sailing Fire
09 Into The Black
10 Dracula
It’s no platitude that you sometimes have to step back from something to free your mind for fresh impulses and artistic growth. And of course, creative breaks are absolutely necessary, particularly in music, to stop yourself from going round in creative circles and losing that indispensible enthusiasm. Rock’n’Rolf Kasparek, vocalist, guitarist and mastermind of the German metal flagship Running Wild, can only confirm this experience. He reckons: “Without the break following Rogues En Vogue and my detour via other projects, I wouldn’t have found my way back to Running Wild. A routine had crept in which I didn’t really like any more. I had to put an end to Running Wild to get a clear head again. This was the only way to write an album as laid-back and passionate as Shadowmaker.” The new recording has been scheduled for release on Steamhammer/SPV on 23 April 2012 (Germany: 20 April 2012, USA/Canada: 24 April 2012). The jewel case edition features a 40-minute bonus DVD, including a making-of and commentary on each of the ten new songs. So the really good news in the still fresh new year is: Running Wild are back, and they’re in absolute top form!

The new album’s parameters for success are as simple as they are surprising: Kasparek consciously composed the tracks in the shortest possible time to get across their spontaneity and freshness. “Sometimes it just took me ten minutes, rarely more than half an hour, to compose a song. I even wrote a more complex number like ‘Dracula,’ for which I had intended to take more time to do justice to the subject matter musically and in terms of the lyrics, in just about two hours. It just shows to which extent my zest and creative spirit have come back to me. That old easy-going attitude has returned all of a sudden, and in my opinion the result is one of the best albums I’ve ever written.”

On closer inspection, you can’t but agree with his view: Shadowmaker sees Running Wild combine typical stylistic ingredients with new elements and logical developments. To cut a long story short: ‘Riding On The Tide’ and ‘Sailing Fire’ present those familiar Celtic features and the pirate theme of former Running Wild classics. On the other hand, there is the thematically-linked trilogy consisting of ‘Black Shadow,’ ‘Shadowmaker’ and ‘Into The Black,’ in which Kasparek altercates with the (alarming) state of the world, while ‘Peace Of The Action,’ in contrast, is ruled by a laid-back party feel. The autobiographical ‘I Am Who I Am’ summarises Kasparek’s current self-conception: “This song presents my philosophy of life. You could summarise it with the classic Martin Luther quote: ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’. I know that I occasionally offend with my straightforward ways, but – as the title puts it so aptly – I am who I am.”

Mind you, Kasparek has also learned from the past: he put together an excellent production team to be able to concentrate more than in the past on his role as a composer and producer. Involved in the recordings of Shadowmaker were Niki and Katharina Nowy and Kasparek’s longstanding friend Peter Jordan. “Those three made it possible for me to work on several songs simultaneously. On Rogues On Vogue, I also acted as a producer and sound engineer. This time around, those time-consuming tasks were taken off my shoulders, which freed me to take better care of a lot of important things. Such as being able to record all the guitar parts at home with a valve amp, thanks to a noise-absorbing Grossmann insulation box, which created a highly individual, extremely brilliant sound. And we’ve also developed in terms of vocals – no other Running Wild album has featured the kind of choirs that Shadowmaker does.”

You can really feel it: Running Wild are back with a vengeance, sounding more dynamic than they have done in a long time. Even Rolf’s answer to the most burning question in this context – will the band play live again? – allows reason for hope: “I will deal with this question when the time comes, but first of all let’s wait for the reactions to Shadowmaker,” comments Kasparek, stressing at the same time that there will be no shows in 2012. But who knows? After all, not so long ago Captain Rolf wouldn’t have reckoned with a new studio album either ...
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