Review Summary: Take a Raw Ride!
Under Jolly Roger is the third studio album by Running Wild, and maybe their best work. The band from Hamburg, this landmark for speed metal, has produced also top works later on, like "Port Royal" and "Death or Glory", but this one is unique for a couple of reasons.
First of all, its consistency. Starting with "Under Jolly Roger" and finishing with "Merciless Game", you never get a boring or less inspired moment in this release. Second reason, the thrash/speed sound combined with melodic choruses. Third reason, the pirate atmosphere. Its only drawback might be its short length, around 35 mins.
The line up here is probably the most dynamic one that the band presented:
Rolf Kasparek - guitars, vocals
Majk Moti - guitars
Stephan Boriss - bass
Hasche - drums
"Rock n' Rolf" is already a legend among the heavy metal audiences and definitely, albums like this, contributed hugely to that. What we get is: inspired riffs, sing - along vocal lines and speed tempo in most of the songs, with the exception of "Land of Ice" which is mid tempo but also on top level rating as the rest of the tracks. Lyrics might seem a bit unprocessed, but still, this is the 80's, i don't remember many bands putting so much of an effort on lyrics. Even the "*** you" on the bridge of "Raw ride" seems absolutely fit, this doesn't try to sound heavy, it IS.
The atmosphere is impressive and from the first minute, we realize that we are about to listen to something unique. From the great use of special effects on the title track to the perfect double guitars on the finishing of "Raise your fist" and "Raw ride" and from the haunting starting riff on "Beggar's night" to the heavy/thrash headbanging sound on "Land of Ice", this is a masterpiece from start to finish.
Production is not perfect by today's standards, but for the time of its release, this is pretty solid and i enjoy this rawness. Drums and bass pave the way for the excellent guitar work, both on rhythm and lead guitar. Solos are enjoyable and not overextended. The vocals are not annoyingly high pitched, they are raw and dynamic and suit the purpose of the sound, absolutely spot-on. Perfectly balanced in every aspect.
This kind of albums, like "Under Jolly Roger", actually placed the foundation for the greater part of modern speed metal or euro-metal sound. These guys were pioneers, both lyrically and musically, this is undeniable. An absolute must-have for speed metal fans. Of course, this has nothing to do with the 00's german and other european bands and their lalala happy euro-metal sound. This is a legacy for 80's metal fans and for people who feel the urge of getting to know how real speed metal kicked off.