Company: Earache Records Release: 2010 Genre: Traditional Reviewer: EC
Enjoyable listen with little forward progression or innovation
"Over The Top" is the debut album from this LA act. The group signed a deal with England's Earache Records last year and soon began recording this ode to all things denim and leather. As I have mentioned time and time and time again these types of records are a catch 22. In one way it brings headbanging metal tom-foolery to the forefront, recalling the days of Steve Harris and Biff running wild all over the globe dominating the masses with pure melodic fury. White Wizzard doesn't hurt anyone with their care free metal ejection, one that is top notch and classy while being tight, polished and fine tuned to thrill. This is PERFECT for the new generation and probably an ideal introduction for fans to trace the metal spectrum for other bands that fit this style. It is similar to what Marvel did ten years ago with The Ultimate Universe. Some mop headed teen wandered into a comic store and found Ultimate Spider-Man #1. Bang. Easy introduction into a brand new made-for-beginners Marvel universe that RESETS history and allows a new generation to bypass thousands of back issues and confusing story arcs by simply recreating or re-imagining the said hero's origin.
The flip side is that your experienced head banger has heard "Over The Top" from 150 bands in Germany alone. Not to mention the Swedish 80s and then reborn late 90s movement, the New Wave Of British and Belgium heavy metal, the bay area thrash movement and other metal riots that hit almost every country in the world. It is this flip-side that is almost overbearing for me, the experienced mop head that has heard 2,893 (slightly off I'm sure) metal recordings that date back to the mid 70s. Why do I need another straight edge metal record in my collection or clogging my iPod? Or maybe said comic collector views Fantastic Four Issue #987 as just another issue of Reed and family fighting cosmic forces. It's been done over and over and over again. Maybe White Wizzard is just another record in what has become a long continuous series of heavy metal issues?
Regardless of any of the above chatter, White Wizzard are a fairly enjoyable listen while not even remotely doing anything in the way of forward progression or innovation. Hell, the vocal patterns alone are lifted right off of Priest tunes (I almost sang the Priest lyrics on "Live Free Or Die"...you would too if you sang "Rock Hard And Ride Free" ten-thousand times). The band are tight, well tuned and the production values stand out. The battery is really up front and driving, with tons of bass rumble and drums that really control the direction of the songs. Clearly the one-two battery is written first followed by cheesy vocal lines and patterns. The lead work is about average and never quite gets deep enough. With this kind of true metal I need a lead that I can ride or grind my teeth into. I never found it here. However the overall songs are enjoyable, highlights being the Wolf-like "40 Deuces", the NWOBHM tinged title-track and the rather complex "Iron Goddess Of Vengeance" (see Maiden's "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" crossed with Fate's Warning's "The Apparition"). Vocals are mid to high falsetto, maybe groomed with pro-tools.
Fans of Three Inches Of Blood, Enforcer, Bible Of The Devil, The Sword, Icarus Witch and Midnight Idols should find plenty to like with White Wizzard. Old fans of Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Fate, Motorhead, Quartz, Q5, Pretty Maids, Accept, Scorpions, Nightmare, Holland, Proud, Running Wild...well...you've heard this countless times. Really I have, yet I own this and tonight start Volume 13 of Ultimate Spider-Man. All about the fun...right?
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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