Running Wild - Blazon Stone (1991)Release ID: 2143

Running Wild - Blazon Stone (1991) Cover
Daniel Daniel / February 16, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

I'd suggest that some of our regulars would already be aware of my long-time struggles to understand the appeal in German heavy/power metal legends Running Wild by now. Their 1980's & 1990's releases seem to be unanimously claimed as pillars of metal but I've always found similar obstacles standing in my way when checking them out for myself. Sometimes I find them to sound a bit lethargic with the song-writing leaving much to be desired but I feel that this is possibly a bi-product of Running Wild's vocalist Rock 'n' Rolf simply not being a tier one singer &, more often than not, I find myself wondering if the band might be missing a trick there given that they can certainly produce some stellar riffs at times. As a result, all of Running Wild's first five albums have stalled at a three-star rating while I couldn't get their 1990 "Wild Animal" E.P. up above 2.5 stars. 1994's "Black Hand Inn" came closest to breaking out of mediocrity but was still confined to that dreaded three-star curse. All may not be lost though as I recently noticed one of our most educated & trusted members Sonny praising 1991's "Blazon Stone" sixth full-length. Sonny & I generally share pretty similar thoughts on the more accessible brands of metal so I felt encouraged enough to investigate "Blazon Stone" myself in the hope of finally discovering a Running Wild album that I can say that I genuinely enjoy.

I have to admit that I've questioned the power metal credentials of Running Wild's previous couple of albums in 1987's "Under Jolly Roger" & 1988's "Death or Glory" over the years but "Blazon Stone" is a slightly different story as I can now see enough elements of the power metal model to warrant a dual tagging with your classic heavy metal sound, even though the dial clearly sits further over to the heavy metal side of the equation. Fellow Germans Grave Digger & Rage are a good comparison although the more power metal-oriented material unsurprisingly sounds a lot like Swedish worshippers Blazon Stone. The links to power metal sit largely behind the regular incorporation of speed metal techniques in the rhythm guitar work but Rolf's vocal style is noticeably missing the theatrics & histrionics of your average European power metal front man so this feels much more like the US brand of power metal than it does the German one.

The tracklisting begins quite nicely with the A side being surprisingly strong so I was feeling pretty good about the potential for a respectable score by the halfway point of my first listen. Unfortunately, the B side was a lot patchier with the back end of the album petering out pretty noticeably. I have to say that I love the crunchy rhythm guitar tone though & feel that it somewhat carries the album, particularly given the inclusion of some pretty classic heavy metal riffs at times. The highlight tracks are really enjoyable too with the very solid heavy metal anthems "Little Big Horn" & "Rolling Wheels" being my clear favourites. I can certainly do without the folky guitar melodies that pop up from times to time though, seemingly intended to remind me that "Blazon Stone" is supposedly a European power metal release & I shouldn't really like it. "Billy The Kid" is a particularly silly track that I find I struggle with more than the rest of the weaker material.

Sure, there are some flat moments to be found on "Blazon Stone" which didn't come as a surprise to me but for once I've found the wins to outweigh the losses which is a first for a Running Wild record & has finally led me to cracking that elusive 3.5-star threshold I'd so hoped it would. I can't see Running Wild building on that for even higher ratings any time soon but at least we can always fall back on this record when we reminisce about old times over a German lager in decades to come.