This is "The Big 10 - The Essential Tracks", in which we take a closer look at particular artist's or band's back catalogue, and choose the 10 finest moments. These are our subjective choices, so if you want to ask how on earth we could leave off such and such song from the list, you can... and the answer is... because we could.

  Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight! Rock N Rolf? Pirates? Peg-legs, burried treasures and drunken parrots? Hic! Well. Once you get past the crazy marooners and shocking stage name and image, you might just discover one of the true greats, and their fast and furious update of Teutonic sound means that this merry crew and Captain wouldn't sound out of place popping over the English channel to take on Lord Nelson at his own game and win. Formed in 1976 in Hamburg by Rolf Kasparek (aka Rock N Rolf) under the name Granite Heart, they would change their name in 1979 to Running Wild after the Judas Priest song. Their debut album Gates to Purgatory (1984), featuring Satanic lyrics (oh no) and guitarist Gerald "Preacher" Warnecke, was studying theology at the time and is now a pastor in Köln (that's Cologne if you're not into the German language).

The follow up to the first of their in my opinion classic albums (1987's "Under Jolly Roger"), "Port Royal" (1988) saw the pirates shift from a sort of blunt oriented heavy metal formula and adopt the power of sophisticated speed to the extreme. It also features one of the coolest instrumental tracks ever, 'Final Gates'. I dare anyone to come up with cooler bass-lines and guitar solos. Ehem, actually, "Highland Glory (The Eternal Fight)" from Death or Glory is probably just as good. Their previous releases, although all wicked metal albums, had much more of a blunt NWOBHM vibe. Now, that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the really classic pirate sound and style Running Wild was trying to create and formulate into their own wouldn't start to happen until the great "Port Royal"...

Something which eventually lead to perhaps the most underrated Metal album of ALL-time. I'm obviously talking about "Death Or Glory" (1989). On this album we can find superb melodic Speed Metal created by the marvelous riffs and harmonies of the guitars. Seriously. The guitar-work on this platter, not of this earth as they are plundering, acidic pulses of slashing swash-buckling riffdom. The arrangements and melodies are simply outstanding while you're drowning in double-bass rhythms and canon pounds throughout the album. If you've been searching for the origin of classy melodic speed metal, look no further than Death or Glory. Rock N Rolf ran sadly out of ideas as the 90's progressed and the songs are all based around the same basic structure and formula. For now. Here's the BIG TEN - Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight! \m/

10. Uaschitschun
9. Evilution
8. Mordor
7. Running Blood
6. Death Or Glory

5. Conquistadores
"They fight, the kill, they rape, under the banner of the holy church". Indeed. It's the sickening story of white "christian" soldiers killing in the name of God and religion. The song kick starts on a great note with bass guitar, high energy and the guitar riff that pick up the pace in satisfying style. Rolf reaching the heights with his vocals from the beginning, signaling that a new order appears to be in motion and there's no place for mutiny. It's from the 1987 album Port Royal and it's all swashbuckling fun.

4. Treasure Island
"The yell of the slain. The waves on the rocks. Captain's Flint's raising hell. He's calling my name to drive me insane. But I'll never return to". ... Yup. It's clearly based on the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. You'll find all the characters such as Mr Bones, Black Dog, Dr Livesay, Jim Hawkins, Captain Flint and Long John Silver. X marks the spot? It's spot on epic metal though and the best track off 1992's Pile Of Skulls. 11 minutes of pure swashbuckling pirate metal. "And I tell you, no oxen and wain ropes will ever take me back to Treasure Island"...

3. Battle Of Waterloo
There's bagpipes and the snare-drum war march intro. The guitar work is simply fantastic, so is the bass work, killer higher range fills, tight rhythmic playing and overall cool lines that complement guitars and drums perfectly. And don't get me started on the drums. Simply friggin' great and you'll be air drumming along like a madman to the pattern. It's obviously about the aggressive tiny French dude and it's not difficult to imagine yourself marching off to battle with this as your soundtrack. It's huge, epic, metal, with a galloping energy and that beast of a refrain. "The little soldier, he is lost"...

2. Chains And Leather
"As the day has gone and the heat has come - Headbanger's War tonight". So friggin' nice, they recorded it twice!! Originally cut for the 1985 release Branded and Exiled, the 1989 re-recording (Death or Glory, US bonus track and also on the EP), something as rare as the better version. That's right. I wrote it. You read it. W-a-y better than the original! Phew. That's quite a bold statement and I may add a very rare happening. The 1989 version is simply just more uptempo, uprocking, and up the irons. The backup vocals are now spot on (while the 1985 choir sound off), the drums are loud as hell and utterly cool, and it's one of those all-time classic and fun shout-a-long anthems of metal. And remember, "Even Satan wears leather our souls to it forever. So let us pray our rules tonight". Chains and Leather!!!

1. Riding The Storm
The opening track off Death or Glory - the intro of this song is something way beyond the ordinary schmucks of heavy metal. Its basically riff-armageddon from first to last note! You simply can't start an Metal album any better than this. In fact the whole song is a highlight with its fierce riffs, incredibly cool bass and fantastic chorus. Majk Moti and Rock n Rolf are constantly trading licks and tricks throughout the track and the rhythm section (Jens Becker & Iain Finley) are riding the storm (pun intended?) with a thunderous sound.

This list by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,

The list as a YouTube playlist

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