Running Wild Black Hand Inn

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Being a huge Running Wild fan, I’m going to have to call this another one of their crowning acheivements right after Death Or Glory (this being my second favorite release from them) and easily one of my top favorite metal albums of all time. This is Running Wild at the very top of their game. There’s so many incredible things about this album, I don’t even know where to begin, but I will try my best to get some points across without simply saying „Just buy it!“

Consistency. Right after the fancy intro that is „The Curse“ (one of the coolest intro’s to boot!), you’ve got an hour of non-stop completely in your face powerful metal here. Often people have complained that Running Wild’s fault is repetition, but there’s no sign of that at all here. Each and every song is distinct, yet connected together perfectly like bread and butter.Runningwild The riffs on here are some of the most melodic riffs I’ve ever heard, and they never seem to stop coming. Once they grab you, you’re almost forced to start headbanging and you just can’t stop until the album is over. The solo’s are completely over the top and earth shattering as well. Simply put, this is one of, if not THEE catchiest album I have ever heard. You could randomly pick any song on here, listen to it, and instantly get hooked and probably wouldn’t be able to stop yourself from headbanging. There are absolutely no fillers here, not even close.

Rock´n´Rolf Kasparek. Again, Kasparek shows his virtuous skill in both his guitar work, and the vocals. If you’ve heard other Running Wild albums then you know what to expect here, though the power and energy emitted from his voice seems to crack the Earth on this album more than others. He’s got that semi-what raspy voice, along with quite a devastating range. His voice is too perfect for his band, I could see it no other way.

rocknrolfProduction quality. This is easily one of Running Wild’s most well-produced albums. Though its not at all too over the top and not too fancy, which seems to drag some bands and albums down for some people. This is still the raw Running Wild from their previous efforts, just more clearer I’d say.

Jörg Michael. His drumwork on this album is the reason I see this album as „Running Wild, injected with Nitrous!“, The drumming speed has been stepped up quite a lot from their previous works. Expect some seriously tough double bass galloping here. Although this seems typical for a lot of Power Metal bands, the drumming by Michael here is so immensely dynamic its not even funny. They’re mixed up quite a bit, and the rhythm’s and patterns he pulls out are just insane. When I think of good drumming, this album always comes to mind. The drumwork on here is hands down some of the best I’ve ever heard. You’ll never get bored of it, you’ll galop your way to the top of the highest mountain with it!running_wild_pic_rivalry

Beyond these perfections, this album sadly marks the end of Running Wild’s true reign. Most noticeably because of the lack of drums. After this, you can only expect the tedious, horrible, repetive drum machines that honestly bring down their later albums quite a bit. This is another reason why I believe I love Michael’s drumwork on here so much. I’m sure you’ll come to respect it just as much.

If you’ve never heard any of Running Wild‘s works, regardless that I prefer Death or Glory by just a hair, I’d say this is the best album to start with. Its the perfect example of their Pirate feel, their unstoppable melodies, off the wall work with the instruments, insanely awesome vocals, and so forth. And as I have said before, along with just about every other person who’s reviewed this, this album is hands down one of the catchiest metal albums of all time!

Line up :

  • Rock´n Rolf : Rhythm Guitar, Vocals.
  • Thilo Herrmann : Lead and Rhythm Guitar.
  • Thomas Smuszynski : Bass-Guitar.
  • Jörg Michael : Drums.

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Stormwitch Eye Of The Storm

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What we have is a very melodic and soft traditional/power metal album. The addition of several ballad type songs will no doubt put off many metalheads, but this is not as bad as it at first seems. The album opens with a catchy slab of speed metal (though with a very cheesy chorus) before slowing to mid pace for the remainder of the album.stormwitch2Tarred and Feathered“ has some nice guitar work and amusing lyrics, before softening into semi ballad „Heart of Ice„.

We are then given a fantastically arranged version of the Mozart „Ronda ala Turca“ (possibly the best song on the album) „I Want You Around“ is a full-on love ballad, slightly cheesy in areas, but an enjoyable listen. „King In The Ring“ and „Paradise“ take a more traditional metal approach, with some interesting riffs.storm The album dives back into ballad territory with the semi accoustic and slow „Take Me Home„. The more metallic „Steel In The Red Light“ displays vocalist Andy Muck’s big range well. „Another World Apart“ closes the album with a soft, mid paced approach, which is passable.

This album should appeal to fans of traditional or power metal, provided you can tolerate (or like) the addition of a few ballads. Enjoyable, but not overly memorable or interesting, it is however, worth a listen.

Line up :

  • Andy Mück : Vocals
  • Harald Spengler : Guitar
  • Stefan Kaffmann : Guitar
  • Andy Jäger : Bass
  • Peter Langer : Drums

ATTACK Destinies Of War

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Although it’ll always be a mystery as to what was going on between this release and their previous Return Of The Evil from 1985, with Beastkiller that’s been lost in the past and barely anything is known about its history, Destinies of War is easily Attack at their peak where they really had a grasp at what they were going for, a perfection of their sound and style.

ri222Engaging and very uplifting Attack could be the very band that started this now current Euro-Power metal plague that’s been sweeping the metal world of today. Attack however had what most bands these days lack and that’s charisma and attitude. The pace and everything may be cheesy but at times you can almost feel some kind of magic emitting from these songs. Ricky Van Helden seems to hit his peak with his masterful work on vocals, odd and very cheerful you’ll find yourself engaged with every single chorus here. Melodic and very vibrant Helden’s vocals fit this style perfectly.

ch1There’s definitely a huge emphasis on melodic technique’s and creating a very catchy experience here. The guitarwork could be compared to Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind, though molded in a power metal glove. While there’s a large sum of repetition here, Attack nails this focus perfectly and nothing here is too overdone, abused, or repetitive. Guitarists Gerd Sossnierz and Chreddy Riepert utilize dual harmonies in almost every track while some acoustics appear on various tracks like The Battle Is Lost. The solo work is reminiscent of some NWOBHM bands, as if the guitars start to engage in some kind of fierce battle trying to out due each other. Who can shred the best?revit10 The guitars complement each other flawlessly throughout every song. Both the bass (Ricky van Helden) and drums (Zacky Tsoukas) don’t really go above and beyond, but they fit perfectly and complete this great lineup. Production wise, I’ll just simply say it gets two thumbs way up.

The consistency and quality throughout this album seems entirely unstoppable. They completely nailed the track listing as it just seems to keep getting better and better with no signs of dropping until you hit the end of the disc, then you’ll find yourself restarting it all over again. Alright, so there is a weakest link and that’s The Last Surviving Man which does manage to almost ruin the moment as it just feels too traditional and laid back then compared to most tracks.za2 That could be however because it follows after Death Rider, arguably one of Attack’s best songs if not their absolute finest. The equivalent to something Tyrant (US) could have written and Helden’s scream in the middle of it is exhilarating.

att222 Overall this album is very comparable to Helloween’s Keepers which brings me to my biggest question here: Why aren’t these guys still active? It is extremely unfair that these guys aren’t one of the big names out there currently, a band that should rightfully be brought up with names like Gamma Ray, Helloween, Running Wild, and so forth. Of the melodic European power metal genre, this is hands down a classic and something old school Keepers-esque Helloween fans will drool over easily. This gets my certificate at being Attack’s finest release though its not too easy to say that, since Attack has had a pretty damn consistent career (that they did have). Their Revitalize remake / compilation is probably their best release next to this, but overall you can’t go wrong with any of their stuff and this is easily one of their best!

  • Ricky van Helden : Bass-Guitar, Vocals
  • Gerd Sossnierz : Lead and Rhythm Guitar
  • Chreddy Riepert : Lead and Rhythm Guitar
  • Zacky Tsoukas : Drums

ATTACK Return Of The Evil

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Ricky van Helden continued on his warrior’s journey through the barren wastelands of heavy metal obscurity on Return Of The Evil, his band’s second album.  Attack’s quirky debut Danger In The Air was an interesting curio to say the least. 1rvh return

But with Return Of The Evil, Ricky forged ahead with a more conventional “power metal” sound.  Here, a clear Iron Maiden influence comes to light (though Ricky’s approach was a little more straight forward).  Ricky van Helden crafted songs that weren’t complicated technically, but were played with high energy, and provided a sturdy framework to back his melodic vocal ideas.  Dirty Mary and Warriors In Pain are my personal faves. attgui2

The album creates an atmosphere of epic fantasy, of ancient warriors in some quasi-medieval realm.  (Raise your broadswords, all ye warriors of METAL!)  Return Of The Evil was an even better album than Danger In The Air, but Attack’s best work was still on the horizon.  I’m talking about the long-lost gem called Destinies Of War (1989)!  Cheers to you, Ricky van Helden, you magnificent bastard.

Track-List : att live

  • 1. Warriors in Pain
  • 2. No Mercy
  • 3. Dirty Mary
  • 4. Hateful and Damned
  • 5. Indian Lady
  • 6. Mystery Night
  • 7. The End
  • 8. Missing you
  • 9. Hard Times

ATTACK The Secret Place

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The final longplayer from Attack is a bashing, accomplished set of compositions which serve as a sendoff for one of power metal’s more mysterious multi-instrumentalists and songwriters, Ricky Van Helden. Full of tight rhythms and expert musicianship, this slab of unadulterated power will rock you to hell and back, and then leave you asking the inevitable question: what happened?

Opening with the traditional power rocker Light in the Dark, the CD takes no prisoners from the start. After a brief forlorn keyboard intro, the CD kicks into full gear. What I love about The Secret Place is the production, combined with the perfect marriage of the guitar, bass and drums on every track. Everything is pushed right to the limit, red lights all the way. Athough probably not as loud as newer CDs when played side by side, it sounds to me like the signals were pushed right to the limit of clipping and held there. The effect is interesting, giving the overall sound an overloaded feel. It’s different sounding than today’s slick, perfectly-balanced productions, that’s for sure.

1rvh And through it all, Van Helden’s distinctive, European-tinged everyman vocals preside over the top, never generic, never contrived and inaccessible. Yes, sometimes I even detect a sour note — it’s true — but he’s Van Helden and no one else. He owns this material and it shows. He *IS* Attack. You know this is his baby. In addition, Ricky places various string interludes and touches into the mix. But he always does so tastefully, to add to the power metal, never to overwhelm it.

1tk1Let’s progress from the opening track to I Know, a post-apocalpytic Nostradamous-inspired atmospheric rocker that brings to mind scenes of darkness and ash, shrouded in double-bass blasting and more Van Helden magic. The keyboards and strings in this song are extremely well-placed in my opinion, never overbearing but adding the necessary atmosphere in the right places. The breakdown also freaks me out every time. It’s just fantastic, the exact change of pace at the exact perfect time, with Van Helden’s voice trailing off in the background.

Then we hit the true highlinght of The Secret Place, the overwhelming Forgotten Dreams. If you haven’t noticed the uncommonly steady, masterful drumming of Zacky Tsoukas yet, here is where you will no longer be able to ignore what is happening on the back end of the production. Tsoukas drives the pocket throughout the entire CD, but in Forgotten Dreams he stands out, throwing in the perfect double-bass inspired, yet delightfully altered and interesting rhythms in the business. It’s not like he’s trailblazing the art of percussion — but he’s so confidently driving the attitude and tenor of the song, you simply have to tip a cap to the guy. I’d play with Zacky as my drummer any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

1zt I do knock points off The Secret Place for the uneven writing that happens on the latter portions of the disc, but not much. The Prophecy is another tightly woven power tune carrying the theme of upcoming annihilation. Walk Alone falls into the category of power ballad, with a dinstinct European tinge provided via Van Helden’s unique vocal stylings and some interesting flute work. Tsoukata — titled for the band’s fantastic percussionist — is an instrumental interlude played with variance and passion, showcasing some fine classical distorted guitarwork serving to give way to Zacki’s solo drumming.

1po1Mortal Energy is more traditional power metal fare — with a very nice pocketed breakdown in the middle. The Warrior hits you with a sly, creeping guitar rhythm giving way to staccacto picking and a cyclical song structure, complete with an anthemic chorus, and another interesting string-laden interlude in the middle that seems to come out of nowhere and disappears just as fast. The outro on this song freaks me out. Fantastic, my goodness. That’s how you do an outro!

And now for that question. What happened to you, Ricky Van Helden? It seems that the man simply decided it was time to move on. Believe it or not, this does happen. Personally, I’m thankful for this little gem, a CD which I never expected to contain anything special, but which has provided some great entertainment through the years with it’s fine craftsmanship and unique sound. Cheers!

Line up :

  • Ricky van Helden : Bass-Guitar, acoustic-Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals.
  • Thorsten Köhne : Lead and Rhythm Guitar.
  • Peter Oko : Lead and Rhythm Guitar.
  • Zacky Tsoukas : Drums.

ATTACK Warriors of Time

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Jede anständige Band, die etwas auf sich hält, bringt mindestens einmal in ihrer Geschichte ein Best Of Album heraus. Da macht auch die deutsche 80er Legende „Attack“ keine Ausnahme und vor allem macht diese Compilation im Gegensatz zu manch anderem lieblos zusammengestellten Vermächtnis an vermeintlich bestem Material, welches sich am Ende doch nur als Abzocke herausstellt, hier auf diesem im Jahre 2011 erschienenen Longplayer mal wirklich Sinn, denn wenn man ehrlich ist, sind die bisherigen Veröffentlichungen der Truppe um „Ricky Van Helden“ alles andere als einfach zu bekommen.

Der Richtigkeit halber muss natürlich schon erwähnt werden, dass bereits im Jahre 1994 ein Best Of Eisen der Band mit dem Namen „Revitalize“ auf den Markt kam, doch dies nur am Rande und außerdem ist auch diese Scheibe nicht gerade so mal eben zu erwerben.

Der nächste Pluspunkt für diese Compilation ist ganz klar, dass nämlich so gut wie alle Alben  von „Attack“ durchleuchtet werden und sich nicht wie oft so üblich, auf eine bestimmte Ära bei einem Label konzentrieren. Somit finden Songs von fast allen  bisher erschienen Werken auf dieser Best Of Platz, was die Songliste auf ganze 16 Stücke hochschraubt. Darunter sind solche Perlen wie „Danger In The Air“ vom gleichnamigen Debüt, „“Heroes Die Young“ von „Beastkiller“, „Light In The Dark“  vom genialen Werk „The Secret Place“, sowie „Dirty Mary“ und „Hateful And Damned“ vom nicht minder starken Album „Return Of The Evil“ und auch „Wonderland“, „The Last Surviving Man“ und das überlange „Death Rider“ von „Destinies Of War“ dürfen nicht fehlen und finden so ihr Plätzchen auf „Warriors Of Time“.

Zusätzlich kommt der Hörer auch noch in den Genuss von „The Wish To Die“ und „Return Of The Warrior“ vom Album „Revitalize“. Meine anfängliche Aussage mit der superben Songauswahl ist also keinesfalls an den Haaren hergezogen und natürlich darf auch das geniale Überwerk „Seven Years In The Past“ nicht vergessen werden. Hierfür wurden die Stücke „In The Gloom“, „On The Run“ und der Titelsong auserkoren, um diese Compilation zu vervollständigen.

Für jeden „Attack“ Fan und alle, die es noch werden möchten, also die bestmögliche Anschaffung, um sich mit der Band befassen. So kann ich als alter „Attack“ Fanatic diese Compilation auch nur wärmstens empfehlen und das wohlgemerkt, ohne mir Gedanken über eine Voreingenommenheit zu machen, denn wer auf lupenreinen Heavy Metal steht und vor allem ein Fan der 80er und 90er Metalszene ist, der kommt an „Attack“ eh nicht vorbei, denn dafür sind ihre damaligen Veröffentlichungen einfach zu essenziell. All denjenigen, die in ihrem heimischen CD bzw. Plattenregal schon Outputs der Band stehen haben, brauche ich diesbezüglich wohl nichts mehr erzählen und diejenigen werden sicherlich meiner Meinung sein.

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ATTACK Seven years in the past

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This is the fifth Attack -album called „Seven Years in the Past“ released in 1992 by Iceland Records. Ricky Van Helden , the heart and soul of the band, is doing almost everything in this album ( Vocals, Keyboards, Drums, Bass guitars, acoustic and electric guitars, flute) together with the guitarists, Jens Petersen and Peter Oko he offers us a classic Teutonic metal album.

1p The album contains 10 songs full of galloping riffs, fantastic solos and of course epic references on the lyrics. The sound is a bit random, but after a while you get used to it. Some interesting intros on songs like „The Fighter„, „Eternal War„, „Never Die“ or the all-encompassing killer song „On the run“ with the acoustic guitar in the beginning create a fantastic atmosphere while the guitar work is once again at its best.

green The compositions are at times mid-tempo while at others at full speed giving a variety and keeping the listener interested. There are tons of very nice melodies, which stick to your brain right away, one catchy tune after the other. Be it „In The Gloom“ with its short flute accents, “Hades Of Steel” that starts out balladesque and then grooves out and specially the fast title song, where they incorporated Edvard Grieg’s „Hall Of The Mountain King“ theme. A remake of the song „Indian Lady“ is also featured in this album as well as a 1-minute drum solo called „Battledrums“ and an orchestral song called „The Seventh Year Of The Past„.

1jensThe album is damn good and kicks some major arse (at least mine). Where current Melodic bands swamp their songs with keyboards, Attack swing the axe and use the keys only sparsely. Although this CD sounds rougher than its predecessor, but it’s still an interesting album, too. Attack is one of the most underrated bands in the Metal-Scene. At one point Underground Symphony Records wanted to re-release their back catalogue, let’s hope that they’ll manage that still in this life, so as more people will be able to get Attack’s albums in their hands.

  • Ricky van Helden : Bass, Drums, acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Flute, Vocals.
  • Peter Oko : Lead and Rhythm Guitar.
  • Jens Petersen : Lead and Rhythm Guitar.

Track-List:  cropped-seven-years-i-the-past.jpg

  •   1. In the Gloom
  •   2. Seven years in the past
  •   3. The Fighter
  •   4. On the run
  •   5. Eternal War
  •   6. Never die
  •   7. Battledrums
  •   8. Hades of Steel
  •   9. Indian Lady
  • 10. The seventh year of the past

ATTACK Revitalize

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ATTACK are probably the veteran unknows in L.M.P.´s roster. The evershuffling group, led by constand leader (in a Rock´n Rolf custom) Vocalist / Guitarist / Bassist / Keyboardist / Drummer / Flute player Ricky Van Helden have put out at least foue four discs between 1984 and 1992 : „Seven Years In The Past“, „Destinies Of War“ , „Return Of The Evil“ and „Danger In The Air“.

Ricky van HeldenThis „Revitalize“ with 15 songs is basically a „best of“ , composed of serveral un-released cuts and 9-10 oldies that have been rerecorded or remixed. To put it simply : ATTACK´s music is powerful, speed orientated and melodic Heavy Metal in which instruments as violins, flutes, accoustic guitars and keyboards are used too.

Gerd SossnierzVan Helden is highly influenced by Number Of The Beast / Piece Of Mind / Powerslave-era IRON MAIDEN, and it shows. However, ATTACK have meatier riffs too, very much in a RUNNIUNG WILD style, circa „Branded And Exiled“. Van Helden´s voice does sound like Dickinson on occasion, plus Rock´n Rolf in his rougher moments. Rest assured, as Van Helden is a fine singer (amongst other things).

In the melodies department, ATTACK are heading for an old HELLOWEEN..I know Van Helden aspires to have the Hansen / Weikath-type duels with the Iron Maiden / Running Wild motif.Matthias Hornschuh

Judging from Revitalize, he and ATTACK are on their way. I fell for the ATTACK sound on a first go, upon hearing „The Wish To Die“ or „Return Of The Warrior„. After that, songs like „On The Run“ (only Germans can write tunes like this !! Absolutely amazing ! ) and „Wonderland“ made me an instant ATTACK fan.

Zacky TsoukasThe lyrics are totally in the fantasy / mystical vein : Warriors, witches, dragons, castles, battles, dark ages, etc. (very refreshing compared to the current U.S. scene)

This is not only a „best-of album“ because there are also new and unreleased songs like „Way out of Hell“, „Heroes die young“, „Return of the warrior“ and „The wish to die“ to hear. My personal favorite of the new songs is „The Time Before“ with the amazing middle-part and special outro.

Revitalize shows a cross section of the previous creative period of the band ATTACK, before their next album „The Secret Place“ (1995) will appear.        ( Denis Gulbey „Sentinel Steel“ U.S.A.)

  • Ricky van Helden : Bass-Guitars, acoustic Guitars, Drums, Keyboards, Flute, Vocals.
  • Gerd Sossnierz : Lead and Rhythm Guitars, acoustic Guitars.
  • Matthias Hornschuh : Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Keyboards, Violin.
  • Zacky Tsoukas : Drums

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