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Released: 1994, Victor (Japan)
Hidden Gem Review
There is an interesting story behind this little-known band. Rock ‘n Rolf Kasparek of Running Wild has been plagued with a revolving door line-up with well over a dozen changes over the years. X-Wild was formed by three former members of Running Wild, namely Stephan Swarzmann, (Drums) Jens Becker (Bass) and Axel Morgan (guitar). The addition of vocalist Frank Knight (ex- Introspector) made the foursome complete.
I’m not sure of the full details but there perhaps was some animosity or at least competition between the bands. In the liner notes, Axel Morgan writes, “To our fans all over the world...the name changed…so what?” Hence the title and band name. A legitimate point, I suppose, when ¾ of the band are ex-members…
With the high caliber of musicians in this band this is an absolutely mandatory disc for fans of U.D.O., Gravedigger and, of course, Running Wild. Pure, classic, German metal. Just about everything I have read about this band says Frank Knight sounds like Udo but I don’t hear it myself. Gruff, growly and powerful yes, but gargly and raspy…no.
The packaging is pretty poor actually, and the non-descript cover is weak. It is no surprise this went unnoticed by many. The lyrics are nothing special and the translation leaves a slightly awkward feel to the lyrics. Tunes like “Skybolter”, “Kid Racer” and “Freeway Devils” don’t quite roll off the tongue but that is a minor complaint. Even though the lyrics are not really original, Knight delivers them with intensity and passion.
The production is good--not great but good. Where this shines is the adherence to the principles of true, anthemic, Germanic metal. This could easily be the lost piece of the Running Wild catalogue. Of course the caliber of musicianship is very high as is expected of these veterans. Thunderous drums, crushing guitars, all the hallmarks of good metal can be found on this 12 track CD. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
The band went on to do two more discs, MONSTER EFFECT and SAVAGELAND. MONSTER EFFECT is the strongest of the three and SAVAGELAND was a belaboured concept album set in the future perhaps but based on Braveheart. I believe Jens Becker later took the concept over to Gravedigger and expanded on it for their seminal TUNES OF WAR. I’m not positive on that last point when he left X-Wild and joined Grave Digger…there is so much cross-pollination of these bands. The entire catalogue of X-Wild is rare and expensive but certainly worth the price and the time spent hunting it out.
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