Album Review – Running Wild / Blood on Blood (2021)

The German pirates of Heavy and Power Metal are back with what’s unarguably their strongest album in over 20 years.

The German pirates of Heavy and Power Metal, collectively known as Running Wild, are finally back with an album that lives up to their own legacy, the excellent Blood on Blood. Produced, recorded and mixed by the band’s own mastermind, vocalist and guitarist, the one and only Rock N’ Rolf (aka Rolf Kasparek), and displaying an old school artwork by Jens Reinhold of Zenz-Art, the seventeenth studio album by one of the most important names of the German metal scene to emerge in the early to mid-80’s puts the band back on track after a few bland albums, offering us fans the power and the glory of fantastic albums such as Under Jolly Roger, Death or Glory, Black Hand Inn, Masquerade and The Rivalry. Put differently, if you’re into stories and tales of piracy, or into songs about riding your motorbike wildly and freely, then Rock N’ Rolf and his crew comprised of Peter Jordan on the guitars, Ole Hempelmann on bass and Michael Wolpers on drums have exactly what you’re craving in heavy music with their new opus.

Rolf and Peter begin their incendiary riff attack in the title-track Blood on Blood, an upbeat Heavy Metal tune will put you to headbang within 20 seconds without a shadow of a doubt, whereas Wings of Fire sounds even more traditional than the opening track, with Rolf being on fire with his trademark raspy vocals while Michael dictates the song’s pace, inviting us to hit the road to the sound of such rockin’ tune. Say Your Prayers is another thrilling mid-tempo song mixing old school Heavy Metal with badass Rock N’ Roll, with Rolf’s piercing voice being effectively supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals; followed by Diamonds & Pearls, where albeit their pirate-inspired lyrics might be too cheesy (“Setting all gear, no doubt and no fear / Trailblazers stories were told / Sliding the waves that cover the graves / Of seamen and ships in the cold”), they go along really well with their straightforward Heavy Metal instrumental parts. There’s no time to breathe as Rolf and his crew keep kicking ass in Wild & Free, another fast song about riding free in the name of rock and metal music, with Ole making the earth tremble with his sick bass, not to mention the slashing riffs and solos by Rolf and Peter. Then soulful guitars set the stage for the quartet to shine with their Pirate Metal in Crossing the Blades, showcasing an addictive chorus (“Crossing the blades / Flashing the steel / We will ride, and united we stand / Flashing the blades / Crossing the steel / One for all, and all for one, in the end”) amidst a prancing, beer-drinking, sword-fighting sonority.

Running Wild Blood on Blood Deluxe Box

I personally believe Running Wild shouldn’t try to do any ballads, and One Night, One Day is the ultimate proof that those do not match with their core essence, getting tiresome and bland after a short while, falling flat and sounding way too generic, especially if compared to the rest of the album. Fortunately they get back to a much more thrilling vibe in The Shellback, where Rolf leads his crew of buccaneers inspired by the band’s own early days, with Ole and Michael bringing the groove to the overall result. It’s then time for another rockin’ tune with a powerful vibe that will inspire you to hit the road with your metal brothers, entitled Wild, Wild Nights, where Rolf and Peter are precise as usual with their razor-edged riffs, before the band invites us to join them in an epic journey through The Iron Times (1618-1648), showcasing stunning passages, sharp riffs and solos and pounding beats, all spearheaded by Rolf’s dark, storytelling vocal lines, flowing like an arrow on fire in total darkness until its epic finale. In addition, if you go for the Japanese edition of Blood on Blood you’ll be treated to three very special bonus tracks, those being Stargazed, their cover version for KISS’ classic Strutter (which you can check the original one HERE), and my favorite one Ride on the Wild Side, all worth the investment in this unique version of the album.

As aforementioned, if you’re into Heavy and Power Metal with a strong pirate vein you’ll have a really good time listening to Blood on Blood, which is available for purchase from the Steamhammer Records webstore or as a very special deluxe box from the Napalm Records webstore, strictly limited to 666 units and including the digipak CD and tape versions of the album, a flag, a pendant, a patch, an autograph card and a chain, or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album. “We all know the difficulties the cultural sector was faced with during the lockdown. On the other hand, it also gave me and many other artists some extra time since most releases had to be postponed. I used that time to fine-tune every little detail of my new material. The result is an album that in my opinion is probably the best in Running Wild’s career to date. Every one of the ten songs sounds exactly as I had it in mind when I composed it. I’ve never been happier with a Running Wild record before,” said Rock N’ Rolf himself, and although he might be exaggerating when saying it’s the best Running Wild album ever we must agree it’s indeed a sharp, exciting and detailed piece of work by those German pirates, who are by the way waiting for you to join their crew on Facebook and on Instagram. As the title track says, “one for all and all for one, blood on blood, we stand as one!”

Best moments of the album: Wings of Fire, Say Your Prayers, Crossing the Blades, Wild & Free and The Iron Times (1618-1648).

Worst moments of the album: One Night, One Day.

Released in 2021 Steamhammer Records

Track listing
1. Blood on Blood 4:07
2. Wings of Fire 3:57
3. Say Your Prayers 5:14
4. Diamonds & Pearls 4:44
5. Wild & Free 5:28
6. Crossing the Blades 6:00
7. One Night, One Day 4:59
8. The Shellback 6:11
9. Wild, Wild Nights 4:30
10. The Iron Times (1618-1648) 10:29

Japanese Edition bonus tracks
11. Stargazed 3:40
12. Strutter (KISS cover) 3:05
13. Ride on the Wild Side 4:05

Band members
Rock N’ Rolf – vocals, guitars
Peter Jordan – guitars
Ole Hempelmann – bass
Michael Wolpers – drums

Album Review – Tragedian / Seven Dimensions (2021)

This multicultural Melodic Power Metal unity hailing from Germany is ready to enlighten our destiny to the sound of their fourth full-length album, presenting to the world a new and reinvigorated lineup.

The esoteric and the obscure. Tales of the eternal fight between darkness and light… Formed by arcane energies. The mysteries that lay beyond human recognition. We are Tragedian, Power Metal that enlightens your destiny!

Formed in 2002 by American guitarist, songwriter and producer Gabriele Palermo, Tragedian are a multicultural metal band from Hamburg, Germany with a range of influences from Heavy Metal to Speed and Melodic Power Metal, taking their favorite elements from each genre and making their own interpretation. Currently comprised of the aforementioned Gabriele Palermo on the guitars together with Venezuelan vocalist Joan Pabón, German bassist Dawid Wieczorek, German keyboardist and pianist  Denis Scheither, and Italian drummer Nicolò Bernini, the band is about to unleash their fourth full-length album, entitled Seven Dimensions, the first with Joan, Dawid and Denis on the lineup. Produced by Gabriele himself, post-produced and mixed by Eike Freese at Chameleon Studios in Hamburg, and featuring an ethereal artwork by Polish artist Piotr Szafraniec (Archart Studio), Seven Dimensions takes the band to a different direction of Melodic Metal, showcasing nine new, electrifying anthems plus three previously released tracks reworked by the quintet.

Blazing guitars and whimsical keys kick off the Melodic Metal extravaganza titled Rising Rage, with Nicolò dictating the rhythm with his classic beats in a fast, harmonious and epic manner just the way we like it, and with Joan proving why he was chosen to be the band’s new lead singer. Then more of Gabriele’s slashing riffs and solos penetrate deep inside our ears in Aloneless, where Dawid and Nicolò’s low-tuned, rumbling sounds make a vibrant paradox with Denis’ classy keys. Put differently, it will certainly please all fans of bands like Stratovarius, Rhapsody of Fire and Angra, whereas investing in a more direct sonority, the band blends the electricity of Power Metal with the rebelliousness of old school Heavy Metal and Hard Rock in Out of the Dark, featuring guest guitars by Dan Palmer (Zebra Head, Death By Stereo), and the final result is simply awesome. And putting the pedal to the metal the quintet fires the melodic hurricane Darkest of My Days, where Joan is amazing on vocals supported by the unstoppable drums by Nicolò, not to mention the razor-edge guitar lines by Gabriele.

In Bringer of Dreams, featuring guest vocals by Wade Black (Crimson Glory, Leatherwolf), after a not-so-promising start the music fortunately evolves into another solid feast of Melodic Power Metal by Tragedian, with Joan and Wade bringing joy to our hearts with their dynamic vocal duo; and it’s time for a power ballad led by Joan’s passionate vocals and Denis’ melancholic piano notes entitled Crying in the Rain, also presenting background female vocals which bring an additional touch of finesse to the overall result, albeit going on for too long. Back to a more imposing and epic musicality, Nicolò kicks ass once again on drums while Gabriele keeps extracting sheer adrenaline from his axe in Enlightened, all spiced up by a classic Stratovarius-inspired keyboard solo by Denis, followed by an avalanche of classic riffs and nonstop drums in Forevermore, with the groovy bass punches by Dawid bringing thunder to the music. Needless to say, it can’t get any more melodic than this.

Destiny sounds relatively generic compared to the rest of the album, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad song, though, it’s just that it falls flat after a while despite the solid instrumental pieces blasted by the quintet. Then Joan showcases all his vocal potency and range is his mother tongue in Para Siempre (Forever), a very entertaining tune (and of course very special and personal for Joan himself) that results in a lecture in Spanish Melodic Metal; and those power metallers are never tired of embellishing the airwaves with their stylish sounds like what they do in The Journey, where Gabriele and Denis are once again in absolute sync form start to finish. Guest vocalist Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle) adds his touch of melancholy and epicness to the inspiring ballad Forces of the Light, where we’re invited to let Tragedian’s enfolding music soothe our souls while Joan and Zak give a lecture in vocal performance, closing the digital edition of the album. However, you should definitely go for the CD version of Seven Dimensions, as the bonus tracks Crying in the Rain (duet version) and Forces of the Light (full orchestral version) are definitely worth the investment in the physical edition, especially the orchestral version for the embracing ballad with Zak Stevens.

As already mentioned, the addition of Joan, Dawid and Denis to Tragedian’s lineup brought a new share of epicness, melody and creativity to Gabriele’s brainchild, with Seven Dimensions perfectly depicting the band’s renewed energy throughout each one of the albums’ ten vibrant tracks (or twelve, if we also count the two bonus tracks of the CD version). Having said that, let’s all show the guys from Tragedian how much we admire their music, and that they’ve chosen to follow an exciting path in this new phase of their career by giving them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, by streaming more of their music on Spotify, and especially by purchasing a copy of Seven Dimensions or by streaming it in full by clicking HERE. This is first-class, international Melodic Power Metal that deserves our attention and recognition, my friends, and let’s hope Gabriele and his melodic army keep delivering sheer awesomeness to all of us with all of their future releases, always displaying their refined techniques, and of course, their passion for heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Rising Rage, Out of the Dark, Forevermore and Forces of the Light.

Worst moments of the album: Crying in the Rain and Destiny.

Released in 2021 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Rising Rage 4:19
2. Aloneless 4:03
3. Out of the Dark 3:42
4. Darkest of My Days 3:42
5. Bringer of Dreams 5:35
6. Crying in the Rain 4:48
7. Enlightened 5:01
8. Forevermore 4:13
9. Destiny 4:19
10. Para Siempre (Forever) 3:37
11. The Journey 4:32
12. Forces of the Light 6:35

CD Edition bonus tracks
13. Crying in the Rain (duet version) 4:49
14. Forces of the Light (full orchestral version) 4:50

Band members
Joan Pabón – vocals
Gabriele Palermo – guitar
Dawid Wieczorek – bass
Denis Scheither – keyboards, piano
Nicolò Bernini – drums

Guest musicians
Wade Black – vocals on “Bringer of Dreams”
Zak Stevens – vocals on “Forces of the Light”
Dan Palmer – guitars on “Out Of The Dark”

Metal Chick of the Month – Ela

ELA ROCKS!

Hailing from the charming Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state and known for the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche headquarters and museums, our metal chick of the month of August is ready to set fire to The Headbanging Moose with her powerful vocals, stunning looks and deep passion for Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll, and Heavy and Power Metal. Furthermore, you’ll certainly find her evolution in music quite interesting, from her mellower, radio-friendly Pop Rock early days to her current ferocious beast mode, blasting first-class Heavy Metal for our absolute delectation, always ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the raven-haired vocalist Michaela “Ela” Eichhorn, or if you prefer you can simply call her Ela, frontwoman for German Melodic Heavy Metal band ELA and a woman that beautifully represents the power and importance of women in contemporary metal music.

You won’t find a lot of personal details about our dauntless Ela on the internet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to read, learn and enjoy about her. Let’s say that if you want to know more about Ela, all you have to do is search for her own band ELA, as in the end the two can be considered the same entity. In other words, there’s no Michaela Eichhorn without ELA and vice-versa, which means we’ll be focusing on Ela’s career with her band on this humble tribute to this talented German singer, starting with the band’s inception over ten years ago, in the year of 2006. As a matter of fact, we can go a bit further than that, to the year of 2004, when Ela was part of a Karlsruh, Baden-Württemberg-based band named Com’n Rail, with whom she released the full-length album Out of My Universe that same year (and you can still buy the album from Amazon or from Discogs).

After several concerts all over Germany to promote Out of My Universe in the following years, Com’n Rail split up in 2006, with Ela finally founding what’s known today as ELA. However, as already mentioned, the band’s first releases, those being the EP’s Out of Time and Little Lies, both released in 2008, and the full-length albums Passion, from that same year, and Make My Day, from 2009, showed a much smoother side of Ela, offering her fans a fusion of classic Hard Rock with pop and alternative music. Ela’s debut EP Out of Time featured German musician J.R. Blackmore (the son of Ritchie Blackmore and his former German wife Margit, and known from bands like EBC Roxx and Over the Rainbow) on the guitar, with the invitation originating from Ela herself after listening to one of his instrumental pieces during a radio interview in Hamburg and falling in love with his refined technique. Upon returning home that night, she sent an email to Mr. Blackmore inviting him to participate in her album, he obviously accepted the invitation, and two weeks later the single Out Of Time was recorded (check out the official video shot at the legendary rock club Headbangers Ballroom in Hamburg HERE), with the full EP featuring the aforementioned single, a couple of original songs  by Ela and instrumental pieces by Mr. Blackmore, and a cover version for UFO’s Queen of the Deep. As a consequence of the very positive feedback received from fans and the specialized media, the duo went on a fairly extensive European tour after the release of the EP, not to mention the official video was played on many German music channels such as iMusic1 TV, Hit24, Deluxe TV and Streetclip.Tv.

The year of 2008 also witnessed the release of her first full-length album Passion, which you can listen in full on YouTube, again drawing excellent feedback and very positive reviews from the media. This was Ela’s first cooperation with Martin Engler of Mono Inc., which also happened in her next album. Songs like After the Rain and Out of Time achieved great success among fans of her music, the first single Little Lies made it onto several radio playlists for several weeks, her cover versions for Credence Clearwater Revival’s Who’ll Stop the Rain and Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me were simply amazing, and Bleed got its own official video, shot at a castle for Ela’s own delight. “I’m a huge fan of castles, and it was my utmost wish to film on the historic grounds of a fortress. Just the masonry is ever so fascinating, and for a song like ‘Bleed’ I couldn’t have imagined any other location”, said our talented frontwoman.

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In 2009 Ela was back in action with a more rockin’ sonority with the album Make My Day, featuring re-recorded songs form her previous releases, and new songs like Here to Stay, Who (Won’t You Tell Me) and Right for the Devil, and once again featuring Martin Engler on drums, percussion, keyboards, programming and other arrangements. Ela had a few nice words to say about this heavier and harder version of her music. “The atmosphere in a studio is different to the one on stage, where you’re being swept away by the energy of your fans. Before you pick a song for an album, you work for weeks on that tune until it is to your perfect liking. However, and I think I speak for many of my musician colleagues here, after a while you may dislike this song and/or you suddenly get new ideas for it. Music has a lot to do with emotions, so I think that your own feelings play a major role here. When you know that you’re due to play live shows, it gets you in a different mood, you feel changed. I can only speak for myself, but I felt an overpowering urge to bring these songs across way harder – well, I guess, I simply wanted to ROCK more,” she commented, already pointing to a heavier future for her band.

Although Ela might not have released any new material under her own band until 2015, in 2010 she founded together with J.R. Blackmore and keyboardist Tony Carey (Rainbow) the project EBC Roxx,  having released the album Winners Vol.1 that same year,  with the song Silver Arrows being the anthem to accompany the first race of Mercedes Formula 1 pilots Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg that season. Then after a short hiatus Ela returned in 2015 with her band ELA showcasing a more visceral and metallic sound in Nervous Breakdown, featuring among several hard and heavy songs a medley of two of Slade’s biggest classics, Cum On Feel the Noize and Gudbuy T’Jane. Produced by Jörg Uken (Soundlodge Tonstudio) and mixed by Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Beyond the Black, Edguy), Nervous Breakdown led Ela and her bandmates to promote the album on a tour with the iconic band Bonfire, proving once again she was on the right path in heavy music.

In 2016 Ela and her henchmen got even more metal with the release of the EP Out Of This World, presenting a much harder sonority closer to the Symphonic Metal played by bands such as Nightwish and Lacuna Coil, as you can see in this live version of the song This Kaleidoscope from 2017. Then in 2017 ELA finally achieved its most metallic form with the release of the full-length opus Second Reality, featuring powerful songs like Deadly Sins, therefore explaining why the album stayed in the Top 20 of the German Rock and Metal Charts for weeks. Ela’s metal side received so much praise from fans, critics and media from all over the world her band even toured around Germany as a supporting act for the one and only Grave Digger, not to mention Ela’s guest vocals in 2019 in the title-track Facing the Demon, from the album Facing the Demon, by German Melodic Heavy Metal act Reternity. Having said all that, you might be asking yourself what’s next for Ela, right? Well, no one knows exactly what our dark-haired singer will bring to our avid ears in the future, but we can rest assured it’s definitely going to rock our world.

ELA’s Official Facebook page
ELA’s Official Instagram
ELA’s Official YouTube channel