Running Wild - Port Royal (1988)Release ID: 2141
Another Running Wild album, another fairly flat & dull heavy metal record with poor vocals in my opinion. The production job is very 80's with a thin guitar sound but the bass is unusually loud in the mix & subsequently plays a more significant part than it might otherwise have. The guitar solos are entertaining & there are some cool heavy metal riffs included but (as usual) axe-slinging front man Rock 'n' Rolf is simply not capable of filling the shoes of a tier two heavy metal act. In fact, he spends a fair amount of the run time drifting in & out of key if you wanna get technical about it & the excessive reverb he's been drenched in doesn't help much either.
The tracklisting starts off with four of the weaker tracks on the album & doesn't really get going until the middle of the record with catchy heavy metal songs "Uaschitschun" & "Blown To Kingdom Come" offering me a lot more appeal than the earlier material while speed metal anthem "Warchild" has some really good energy about it. But it's (perhaps unsurprisingly) the instrumental piece "Final Gates" that represents the highlight of the album for me personally, despite really being more of a showcase for Jens Becker's bass guitar skills. You'll notice that I'm still yet to mention power metal anywhere here & there's a reason for that because (as with some of Running Wild's other material) I once again find myself struggling to pick up where people are finding the link. Of the ten proper songs included here seven of them sit firmly in the traditional heavy metal camp while "Into The Arena", "Warchild" & lengthy closer "Calico Jack" veer over towards a faster, more energetic speed metal sound but there are only ever hints at genuine power metal & not enough for a primary tag in my opinion. As usual the pirate references are purely to do with the lyrics, cover art & intro track & you can easily overlook them if you choose to (which I clearly do).
The long & short of it is that I just don't think Running Wild will ever be for me & I really struggle to see the appeal that people find in them. They just sound a bit flat to my ears rather than being genuinely bad so I always find myself reaching for a disappointing 3/5 rating with "Port Royal" being no exception. If I look at Running Wild's back catalogue, I'd suggest that I prefer it to the band's 1985 sophomore album "Branded & Exiled" & noticeably weaker "Wild Animal" E.P. from 1990 but I'd probably take 1994's "Black Hand Inn", 1989's "Death Or Glory" & their 1984 debut album "Gates To Purgatory" over this one even though I have pretty similar feelings about all of them. Perhaps I'm destined never to find a Running Wild record that I enjoy & I'm at peace with that as I've certainly given them a good Aussie crack.