Running Wild - _The Brotherhood_
by: Alvin Wee (
A welcome return to form for Rolf Kasparek and crew after two less-than-satisfactory concept albums in the past few years. Allegations of drummer Angelo Sasso being a drum machine are unfounded, and while die-hards may miss the halcyon Jorg Michael days, percussion on the new album can hardly be faulted for being insipid like on _Victory_. Opener "Welcome to Hell" signals the band's re-discovered knack for simple, fist-pumping riffs, but the lack of the customary intro track must surely disappoint hordes of hardcore fans. The next few tracks trot along at a surprisingly laid-back pace, but traditional RW-epics like the title track and the ten-minute Lawrence of Arabia-tribute "The Ghost" boast the memorable leads we've come to expect from the band's better days, and certainly herald an improvement over the forgettable material of _Victory_. Strangely enough, Rolf's songwriting seems to have taken an AC/DC-esque turn on a few tracks, which surprisingly sits comfortably enough amidst the more traditional stuff. The aptly-titled "Pirate Song" must be one of the most eagerly anticipated tracks in RW history, and lives up to expectations as a -classic- RW anthem with its simplistic power-chord riffing and sing-along chorus. Without doubt the best track on the album, a surefire crowd-pleaser on stage, and an instant classic that renews our wilting faith in the Captain. Lackluster artwork aside, this album is the one the band's cult following have been waiting for ever since 1995's _Masquerade_, and deserves the attention less worthy Helloween clones have been getting Stateside. It's also been said that the limited digipak edition is the only version of the album worth buying; the two bonus tracks on it are easily among the best on the album and it's a wonder they aren't included in the main body.
(article published 4/12/2002)
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