Running Wild - Masquerade
Noise Records
Speed Metal
11 songs (53'33)
Release year: 1995
Running Wild, Noise Records
Reviewed by Chris
Archive review

Thanks to the lackluster Shadowmaker, who indeed casted a dark shadow over the Running Wild name, I rediscovered an album I first loathed. The year was 1995, Masquerade was born, and it followed the band's all-time best and magnificent Black Hand Inn. Rolf had an insurmountable task in front of him, release an album that could hold it's own or, for many fans like me, even best it's predecessor. That's the problem with expectations, if they are too high, you get easily disappointed and that's what happened in 1995, I blindly bought the album hoping for either the same quality or better and in that regard the album had failed.

But almost 20 years later, the album tells a very different story, and put side by side with ShadowMaker it tells a much better story ! From the opener it's clear that Running Wild was still playing Speed Metal back then, with furiously fast guitars and drums (the real kind). The first time I listened to Masquerade in 2012, the story had changed, this is actually a good album, not their best, but hell this is how Running Wild should sound like, not the crappy barely heavy metalish excuse for albums like Rogues en Vogue & Shadowmaker. Rolf's vocals are on par with what was done in Black Hand Inn, the riffing and the guitars are fast, majestic and pirate infused, like they should be ! Head banging is called to the party on the second song (third track) Demonized. Now with years in between my first listen(s), one thing has remained clear, and the reason why that album felt such a let down so many year ago was it's choruses. They are too simple and repetitive, they don't venture into vocal melody genius like many of its predecessor. And at that time, right after their best album, it simply couldn't be swallowed, at least not by me. But the rest, the sound, the guitars both riffs and solos, the sound, the pounding drumming, the panache and the rocking attitude, it was all there in spades ! The guitar melody of Demonized is mind blowing, and if the chorus was more bombastic we would have had another huge hit on our hands but I will settle for a great song rather than the mediocrity to which the "band" has sunk in the last decade. I won't go in a song by song as I promised myself to keep reviews kinda short. Let's just say that while this isn't their best album by a longs hot, it's still a great album, full of great riffs, great energy and some amazing guitars throughout... it's only held down with many lackluster choruses (Metalhead is a perfect example) that never really get off the ground to lift the songs to bombastic height. But take Lions of the Sea, it has such a Black Hand Inn vibe, it's crazy, with a guitar riff à la Dragonmen, it's like a lost bonus track and my favorite of the album hands down. I wish the album contained many more speed metal bombastic like this one. If the album has one fault it's maybe that it tried to emulate its predecessor a little too much, and with the mostly lackluster choruses this battle was lost before it even started. Thankfully everything else shines and keeps the album ... running wild til the end of the album where Underworld closes the album perfectly, what a killer song filled with amazing and orgasmic guitar work. Difficult to understand now how this was Running Wild's worst selling album, it did deserve better !

I'll take lesser choruses any day for this quality of an album over the dribble crappy produced excuses for albums Rogue en Vogue and Shadowmaker are. But Running Wild should sound fast, should sound rock infused and should give your head the envy to bang. And under these criteria, Masquerade is actually one hell of an album ! It just wasn't good enough as a direct following to Black Hand Inn, but that's life, you can't always hit a home run. I'm thankful Shadowmaker was so bad it made me want to revisit what I thought was Running Wild's worst (boy was I W-R-O-N-G), but let me tell you one thing, this ain't so, not by a long shot ! If like me you had stricken off Masquerade off Running Wild's discography, do yourself a favor : dust it off and be entertained if nothing else. Not a grandiose album, but a great one nonetheless !

Killing Songs :
Masquerade, Demonized, Lions of the Sea, The Wheel of Doom, Soleil Royal, Men in Black & Underworld.
Chris quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Running Wild that we have reviewed:
Running Wild - Rapid Foray reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Running Wild - Resilient reviewed by Andy and quoted 69 / 100
Running Wild - Shadowmaker reviewed by Chris and quoted 52 / 100
Running Wild - Under Jolly Roger reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Running Wild - Black Hand Inn reviewed by Chris and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 12 reviews click here
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