Recently my 12 year old son Matt discovered a new pirate role playing game. As the two of us have been playing it and reflecting on the wonders of pirate life (from pillaging and plundering to scurvy and being made to walk the plank) I thought what better time than now do I have to review every one's favorite pirate metal band Running Wild? My first taste of the band came in the form of 1988's "Port Royal". As I made my way backwards to their earlier material I was rather surprised to see that they started off as a cheesy satanic band before doing the whole pirate theme on their third album, "Under Jolly Roger". Even if I could never quite figure out what made them decide to make the change it was most certainly different. Amazingly they made a solid career out of it. With their newest album, "Shadowmaker" I have no idea who is keeping the band afloat these days other than vocalist/guitarist Rolf Kasparek. Whatever group of pirates he managed to get ahold of and "persuade" to join him they seem like an experienced bunch. Not much here to make anyone swab the deck for. "Piece Of The Action" (which I half expected to be a Mötley Crüe cover!) opens up the journey for Running Wild and from that point on it is nothing but smooth sailing. Yes, I do plan to keep up with the whole pirate/sailing theme so just chill out alright? "Riding On the Tide" is prime Running Wild although from the sounds of things don't be surprised it you catch yourself thinking "that sounds kind of like older classic rock riffs". The old power metal vibe is still there of course. It just seems as if Rolf and the band are opening things up a little bit here and there. Blame it on the large amount of rum these sailors have to drink along the way but the band seems more open and jolly than usual. By the way jolly in this instance means more willing to bring in other influences to try out. Bits of traditional heavy metal, classic rock riffs, thrash and speed all appear on deck with the band's tried and true power metal. "I am Who I am" is Running Wild's take on "I Am I'm Me". The band have gotten to the point in life where they boldly say this is who we are so deal with it. They have lived by the sword of rock and roll/pirate metal and they are willing to die by that sword. By the time you roll around to "Into The Black" Running Wild have made their statement. They may be old school metal, but they have a few tricks left to bring in the younger generation. When they finally do make port with the excellent "Dracula" the adventure has been quite rewarding. Germany's Running Wild are one of those few bands who you know what your getting before you ever even hit play. "Dracula" for one might not be about pirates or glory at all costs, but it still has that same sort of old school power metal/traditional heavy metal vibe and charm. It's kind of nice to know that you can walk away from the group for awhile like I have (I have not heard much of what the band has put out in the last 10+ years) and find out their still out there playing heavy metal the only way they know how. Welcome back Running Wild. Make yourself at home and stay for awhile.