Glad some folks found this ramble interesting and funny
Sorry I didn't follow up sooner, been very busy at work AND breaking in a new computer too.
Been working my way back through the RW catalog in recent weeks, so let's do some quick hits.....
Is indeed a very catchy album, and better than I tend to give it credit for.
Always liked the very 'dark' sound on this one. I think these 1st two albums are a cut above most of the coeval German releases. But yes, the best is yet to come...
I view this one as a transitional album. While it does include the first obvious forays into piracy, it also contains a lot of the same themes as on earlier albums (fighting the oppression and what-not). The 'satanic' themes- such as they were- are dialed down a bit, but there's still that undercurrent of defiance against Corruption in Established Bodies that runs (wild) through most of their catalog. While I like this album (and it has a great, energetic, noisy production), it may be a tad overhyped based on the strength of the title track.
So this was my first voyage (geez, it is REALLY hard not to slip into pirate pun mode when writing about this band!) and I still really like it. Sound could be a little better, but maybe it's just my ancient Noise CD pressing. But a lot of classics here and they're developing their soon-to-come trademark sound.
Cited by many as their favorite, sometimes I love it and sometimes I feel like it hasn't aged as well as other records. But even on its bad days, it's a great album and ushers in their Golden Age
Historically I've been kind of down on this album, but I think I've been unfair. It had a hard act to follow, and it had to do so at a time when this style of metal was rapidly falling out of vogue. But revisiting it, it always performs well for me.
While I've always liked this album, it's even better than I recall. The issue I used to have with it is that it gets off to a slightly rocky start. 'Whirlwind' has a really monotonous beat (foreshadows of Angelo), and a couple of the other early tracks on here are merely OK. But once this sucker gets going, it's a monster. It also includes their best epic track ever in the incredible 'Treasure Island', which- let's face it- is one of those songs this band was just destined to write.
Fuck me with a gangplank, but this album is good! My favorite and for good reason; RW at the height of their speed metal prowess. The title track is among the best metal tunes ever laid down. If I have to nit pick, I really don't get what Rolf was trying to do with 'Genesis'. For a band known for its themes of piracy, history, and fighting the oppression, an epic-length sci-fi alternate to the biblical creation story is, uh, kinda out of character. Musically it's alright, but a real head-scratcher in terms of lyrical content
I think this album gets a lot of crap and I honestly don't know why; seems to me that folks who have loved the DoG-BHI era should like this one alot too. Yes, the production is kinda cacaphonous, but I don't think it detracts in any significant way. And the band is still absolutely blazing through a lot of top-notch German speed anthems. Love it!
...and here's where it starts to get a little wonky.
Overall it's not a bad album and it still has several really good songs. But the number of mediocre songs is starting to creep up. The length continues to stretch out but the quality is stretched thinner. This is a good album and better than I sometimes give it credit for, BUT I would say the band is past their peak at this point.
...and then the baby shat the bed.
There are so many things wrong with this album. The lame, Nintendo 64-looking cover art. Rolf posing in some kind of fucking Marching Band uniform. We went from pirate captain to tryouts for the color guard in about 2 albums. And before someone replies trying to claim, "hey nutsack, Rolf's actually wearing an 18th century Prussian military outfit representative of the 32nd mounted cavalry division".... shut the fuck up- it's a goddamned band uniform. You know, I know it, and everyone else knows it too.
Where was I? Oh yeah, other flaws- very stale, flat production dominated by very stale, flat drumming gives the album a very stiff, staccato feel. Instrumentals in the middle of the album, and cover songs in the middle too- these are not things RW does. These are not things any veteran band should do. I don't know if Rolf was bored, felt stuck in a niche, was prodded in a new direction by the label, or what, but the album's a mess.
....and yet, like your never-do-well brother who's been in and out of jail for cooking meth and can't ever seem to locate a laundromat, I just can't quite bring myself to hate it. Maybe it's b/c I managed to find the album in a freaking shopping mall FYE store back when it was released (for those of you not in the US, finding RW in an FYE store is about as likely as finding nude photos of Lemmy inside a My Little Pony notebook). But there are just enough songs that manage to be just catchy enough that I willingly, if reluctantly, will give it a pass.
....but not for this one. I ordered this piece of crap and still regret it. While the production and drum, uh, 'work' was much better than on Victory, overall this album is seriously lacking for quality tunes. You know things have gone all pear-shaped when a power metal band puts an instrumental at Track 5 and it turns out to be the best freakin' song on the album. See, I don't like instrumentals all that much- most of the time they're just throwaway intros and interludes. While some exceptions exist if you venture deep enough into the unfathomed tower, in general I can do without. And putting one at Track 5 is especially bad.
You see, years ago I developed a theory that, on power metal albums, track 5 is the most important track. Hear me out. Power metal albums typically follow a pretty standard blueprint, or at least they did in the mid 90s-early 00s:
Track 1- an instrumental intro
Track 2- blazing fast anthem to kick things off right
Track 3- a strong follow-up song, not as fast as Track 2, but fast enough to keep the heads banging and the fists in the air
Track 4- the band takes their foot off the gas with a slower number so everyone can catch their breath. You settle down and settle in. You wonder "hmmm, is the speedy stuff all done, or is their more speedy goodness to come?"
And that's why Track 5 is the most important. The smart bands who made the best albums knew to step on the fucking gas and light it up on Track 5 with one of the album's highlights so as to wake folks up and allay their fears that the album was slowing down. If an album screwed up track 5, however, that meant that the scoreboard now read 2 Good tracks, 2 average tracks, 1 instrumental, and you go into Track 6 feeling like the album is quickly slipping into mediocrity.
And so here's RW, starting the album with a bunch of pretty average fare, suddenly burning the fucking barn down on Track 5 with an instrumental. And while it's one of the few instrumental tunes I truly love, part of me really hates this song too. It's because 'Siberian Winter' CLEARLY demonstrates that Rolf was perfectly capable of continuing to write incredibly good songs in the style of DoG, BS, PoS, BHI, and Masquerade..... so he's actually, intentionally CHOOSING to fill this album with shit like 'Detonator' and 'Dr Horror'. I KNEW you could still crank out the good stuff Rolf, I knew it! So why bury us in a bunch of songs Blackie Lawless rejected for 'Helldorado'? Why Rolf, why?!
Ah, the much maligned closing act to their pre-retirement days. You know, I think, possibly, there are some good songs on this album...well, decent songs anyway....but you just can't hear them b/c of the messed-up production. You see kids, this is what happens when you spend all your royalties buying band uniforms from around the globe... you don't have enough money left for gear and end up playing a Fischer Price guitar plugged into a Walkman amp. I'll never understand why Rolf thought this was a good sound to go with. Get some real equipment, play on 10, and cut the album length by 20 minutes, and this might have been alright. THen again, that same formula might have made SLAVE RAIDER alright too.
Even overlooking all the "oh look we're already back!" eye-rolling cynical blahblahblah, this album fucking sucks. It breaks my streak of buying hard copies of all RW albums. I will never own their full discography because I will never buy this piece of crap.
Well, at least it's slightly better than the last one
.....you see, things like this irritate the crap out of me. This band was toast. Done. Over. There was absolutely no reason to ever think that anything worth listening to would ever be released under the RW banner again.
And then this came out.
And it's actually pretty good.
You see, the problem is that now, for the next 5 years, every time some tired retro act lumbers into the studio to record another quick cash grab to pay for their hernia surgeries, I will feel compelled to give it a listen because hey, RW finally turned things around, so maybe these guys did too! Maybe that next Witchfinder General reboot will be the next 'Rapid Forays' and we can all pretend 'Resurrected' was some terrible dream brought on by repressed memories of being inappropriately touched by a clown puppet at our cousin's birthday party when we were 9 years old. And I'll listen to it and it'll be horrible and I'll never get those 56 minutes back and it's all RWs fault, because they had to go and make another good album after all these years.
No, RF isn't their best.
Yes, it's highly derivative of past efforts.
Yes, I know one of the songs is essentially 'White Masque' all over again. BUT THAT'S WHAT I WANTED THEM TO DO! It's why I was playing albums by copycats BLAZON STONE. I don't care that they're scavenging their old catalog for riffs and tunes on RF, b/c their old riffs and tunes were some of my most favorite things EVAH!!!
And so here we are, with my hopes all worked up that Rolf has gotten over that 'difficult teenage phase' or menopause or whatever the fuck happened for about 15 years there and has come to grips with his legacy and can do it proud moving forward. And I'll be here, anxiously waiting on the shore, eyes scanning the horizon for signs of sails bringing my beloved RW back to shore for their next visit. I'll light up a candle for hope to be found as I await my next batch of sailorman's hymns.
And so help me God if the next album contains another goddamned BEATLES cover.
That's all for now. Hey, bonus points if you caught the CANDLEMASS and KAMELOT references! Yo ho ho
"I'm sorry Sam, we had real chemistry. But like a monkey on the sun, our love was too hot to live"