Stand up for metal
From the whiplash sustained during the opening avalanche of riffage it is painfully apparent that White Wizzard's debut release ‘Over the Top’ means to raze banal and mediocre metal bands to the cold, hard ground. Upon hearing the first few tracks I was convinced this was a band I had overlooked somewhere down the line; maybe I was 21 and too busy listening to Motorhead or heard them somewhere whilst distracted and simply forgot about them altogether which has, I’m afraid, happened before.
So upon learning they actually formed in 2007 I was quite shocked, their sound has a maturity to it seldom found in new and upcoming bands. All the obligatory Satanic symbolism is there, with rising choruses that build to a head-banging crescendo woven into the fabric. There's an undeniable nod or two towards metals past champions; the World of Warcraft style of writing made famous by Dio creeps in every so often, the galloping bass and surging twin lead guitar attacks scream Iron Maiden and the shrieking vocals are characteristic of Rob Halford in his heyday. And they have long hair, what more could you want?
Tracks like “40 Deuces” and “Over the Top” are instantly likeable for their vibrancy and musicality. The lyrics are also (rather surprisingly) positive and uplifting; instead of wailing war cries to take up arms against Satan (don’t worry! “Strike of the Viper” has all the 666 references you’ll ever need!), the songs are about “getting high and never coming down” and the flames of inspiration which burns within all of us. Ah, how lovely. A welcome change to the negative bellowing that seems to dominate the scene.
I quite liked it on the first listen but alas its stamina isn't its strong point. As a debut I think it’s very impressive, but there aren’t enough memorable songs to warrant a constant space in my CD changer. It has moments of clear genius, the lyric "shifting gears to ride the sky, my metal heart will never die" will stay with me a while yet. The musicality on show should be applauded; these guys can riff for fun and their accuracy in imitation is exemplary. I guess I'm just not metal enough to embrace the mullet (again) but hey, it is 2011; give me a break.
Intense in its dynamics yet lacking in relevancy, the album is well worth a listen if you’re like me and hope and pray that metal lives a long and noisy life. I’ll definitely be seeing them live the next time they’re in town and hope the energy on the record transfers to the stage. With whippersnappers like White Wizzard producing albums of this quality; I think we can expect good old fashioned shredding for a while yet.
(Released 08/02/2010 by Earache Records)