Review Summary: Running Wild’s most consistent album, and, alas, their only good one (in my opinion).
“Under Jolly Roger” is an album by Running Wild, released in 1987. It’s considered the first ‘pirate metal’ album, because of the front cover and some songs on the album. But how does ‘pirate metal’ sound?
Well, let me start saying that ‘pirate metal’ isn’t really a sub-genre of heavy metal music. It’s just what everyone calls the music of Running Wild because of their pirate themes. So let me explain how Running Wild sounds. You can best describe the band as a mix of Iron Maiden
, Judas Priest
and thrash metal. You take the pounding/galopping riffs of those three bands, mix them with the rawness (of the guitars and vocals) of thrash metal. There you go: Running Wild. Even though “Under Jolly Roger” is called the first ‘pirate metal’ album (mainly because of the front cover), only two songs are really about pirates (on the albums that followed, they expanded their pirate theme, like on Port Royal). Curious about how this album is? Read on further…
The album opens with the title track, Under Jolly Roger
, a song which is considered the first ‘pirate metal’ song. It begins with a pirate who’s screaming Ship ahoy! Free mast and bill of the stern and bow! Man the cannons! Fire!
. After Fire!
, there are some cannons firing loud (there’s a warning on the front cover of the album for loud sound effects), and then the drums, bass and guitars kick in. The lyrics are really piratey, with lines as Weigh anchor, hoist the sails/Cruisin' for booty on watery trails
, Fly our flag, we teach them fear/Capture them, the end is near/Firing guns, they shall burn/Surrender or fight, there's no return
The chorus is just Under Jolly Roger
shouted two times after each other, and each time after Under Jolly Roger
is shouted, there’s some cool galloping riff with the guitar. Simple, yet damn catchy and effective. And I didn’t even mention the guitar solo, which is also damn good. All in all, a superb song, a great opener, and one of the best German metal songs.
starts with some Iron Maiden
-like intro. This is one of Running Wild’s most melodic songs. It’s about beggars who are tired of being beaten up, and they want to take revenge on the rulers. The song has great galloping riffs, guitar solo’s and vocal melodies. One of the best songs on the album.
Now another pirate-song: Diamond Of The Black Chest
. This one is about treasure-hunting. It’s a great song, but pretty short. Nevertheless, it rocks and it’s catchy as hell. I can’t resist banging my head on the chorus. Diamond, diamonds, diamonds of the black chest
. Also this song has a great guitar solo. Along with the title track the best song on the album.
War In The Gutter
is one of the lesser songs on this album. It’s fast, and the chorus is catchy (War in the gutter, HOY!
), but it isn’t anything special in comparison to the other songs on the album. The song sounds kind of rushed. Also, the guitar solo is very short here, only about 15 seconds long. Not a bad song by a long shot, just not really special.
Raise Your Fist
is… Well, a typical ‘raise your fist/party-anthem’, which could’ve been from Manowar
or Judas Priest
. The lyrics say enough: Come on kids unite and let us feed the flames of rage/Together we are strong so let's tear up this golden cage/We shall overcome repression and their strangling strings/The shackles have to fall and we will be metallian kings/Raise your fist/Raise your fist/Raise your fist high/Raise your fist/Raise your fist/Raise your fist high
. Great to sing along to, while you’re pumping your fist up in the air. Not much to say about this one.
The next song is more epic, and is called Land Of Ice
. It’s a slow, creepy song, which is about the nuclear war (so the song is quite dated, especially with the years 1987 and 1999 mentioned in the lyrics). The lyrics tell that if they continuing building powerful bombs, the world will change into a ‘land of ice’. The song is pretty melodic for a slow song, but it’s in my opinion the weakest track on the album. It’s not bad, but it sometimes never seems to end and drags on and on..
is a song about riding on a motorcycle, a fact which becomes clear when you hear the roaring of a motorbike in the beginning. This is one hell of a catchy song, especially with the chorus: Raw ride/Raw ride AW!/Take a raw ride/Raw ride/On burning wheels tonight
is similar to Diamonds Of The Black Chest
, especially the style of the chorus (“Let’s stop this merciless game, merciless game”). The great difference is that this song has a more galloping riff than Diamonds Of The Black Chest
. The guitar-outro is superb and a great closer to the album. There’s really not much else to say about this one.
Those were all the tracks. “Under Jolly Roger” is, in my opinion, Running Wild’s most consistent album, and, alas, their only good one. “Port Royal”, their next album, was a huge disappointment for me because of the bad production and the lack of good songs. I tried their debut (“Gates To Purgatory”) too, but I also didn’t like that one for the same reasons. After that, I stopped listening to other Running Wild albums. That’s a shame, because I found “Under Jolly Roger” pretty promising-sounding. I still listen to it regularly. It’s catchy, fast, aggressive, raw, melodic and heavy: exactly what heavy metal has to be.