Released: 2013, SPV
GIANT X is the new side-project of Running Wild's legendary Pirate-King, Rolf Kasperak. Running Wilds' 2012 comeback album, SHADOWMAKER, for the most part was poorly received by critics and fans alike. I thought it was good but not his best. It had quite a rock and roll influence, which didn't sit well with the pirate crew/ fans of the band. To avoid a full scale mutiny he has created a new vessel to explore the musical seas. I'm glad he did because Giant X is a very different class of ship.
Rolf has recruited teamed up with Peter Jordan and the pair have released the debut album, simply titled ‘I’ on the SPV label. To start, the band name is a bit weak and the album title is uninspired and the album cover art is poor as well. Musically there is pure gold inside this rusty treasure chest. The album starts with a spoken intro piece and kicks off proper with the very Running Wild like tune, 'On A Blind Flight' complete with double bass. The pre-press for Giant X had some comment that this was very different from his main band. I thought to myself, 'This isn't that different!' And then I heard the rest if the songs.
I’m very pleased that Giant X is an extremely strong album of Melodic Metal of varying styles. ‘Badland Blues’ features some nice slide guitar and a southern-blues vibe obviously. ‘Let’s Dance’ is a fun tune almost bordering on pop in the writing style. ‘Friendly Fire’ brings us back closer to Metal territory. The last track is called ‘R.O.C.K.’ and it is one of those great songs where the lyrics are comprised of a list of references to other bands. I love when bands do this. How could you not crack a smile and raise a fist at a line like, ‘The queens motorhead police are running wild on the deepest moat, a sexy priest on the ZZ Top, a motley wasp with a heavy load’. That’s doesn’t even make sense but I love it anyway! The chorus is also incredibly catchy. The album is loaded with musical references to the 70's, 80's and 90's and it great!
Believe it or not, to me the centerpiece of the album is track six, ‘Nameless Heroes’. This is an extraordinary power ballad. This acoustic tinged song is the song Scorpions wish they wrote. Strip away Rolf’s rough ‘n’ ready battle-weary vocals and lay the golden pipes of Klaus Meine on this song and this would have been a world-wide global megahit. Imagine the best power ballads of Scorpions, Pretty Maids and Bonfire all in one. It’s that good.
If I wasn't biased I would say this album is a schizophrenic mess with five or six styles, however that is the whole point of a solo venture to explore. As I said, if he tried to pull any of that Hard Rock crap in Running Wild, I'd make him walk the plank! As it stands, the Freewind rider himself has created a masterpiece of Melodic Metal.