In the ten years since White Wizzard’s glorious mid-80’s NWOBHM styled EP ‘High Speed GTO’ and their amazing melodic heavy metal achievement with 2010’s ‘Over the Top’ the band have hit amazing highs and a few distinct lows with an ever-evolving sound thanks to semi-regular line-up shifts. If ‘Over the Top’ and ‘Flying Tigers’ were your jam and you preferred Anderson’s vocals you’re in luck because he’s back for the band’s fourth full-length. I have to admit I didn’t recognize the boy’s sound at first; their sstyle has shifted slightly more aggressive and leaves behind a lot of the softer, anthemic heavy metal moments that characterized ‘Over the Top’ above groups like Enforcer, or more recently Holy Grail. Don’t worry you’ll still recognize the “Screaming Demon” but his tonal range is greatly extended amidst their more aggressive sound on ‘Infernal Overdrive’ and in hindsight he pulls off ‘pissed’ even better than he does ‘pretty.’ I’d have compared him clsoer to Kai Hansen before whereas now I’d say he’s extended into Blitz of Overkill‘s range in a very cool way.
The classic Iron Maiden influence on ‘The Devil’s Cut’ is absolutely still there and thankfully never goes full parody at any given point. Nothing against Joseph Michael and his vocals on ‘The Devil’s Cut’ but his voice was far better suited for what he’s doing in Witherfall and he was the main reason I fell off of the previous album. The decision to go heavier and avoid the pure cheese of power metal on ‘Infernal Overdrive’ has lead to the best White Wizzard record to date that still retains the spirit of classic heavy metal they’re known for. Songs like “Storm the Shores” recall the late 80’s era heavy speed metal of Running Wild while “Pretty May” shows the band still has a true knack for memorable melodic heavy metal tracks. It feels like White Wizzard again but with a more serious, epic heavy metal tone that pays homage to classic heavy metal without feeling derivative (see: ‘Sanctimonius‘) or too singular in it’s worship.
I will admit I have a reasonably strong bias when it comes to modern power metal, so please excuse the rant: Modern power metal is generally so devoid of the spirit of classic heavy metal and artists often enter the field without any real education in even the most basic masters of 80’s US power metal, much less the German contributions. The hyper symphonic Italio-Swedish style that holds such influence strips out the power of the guitar riff, loses the Dio-like sneer and songwriting in favor of Blind Guardian tropes, Yngwie masturbation and AOR balladeer pomp. It sends me into fits of ear plugging and mute button slamming. White Wizzard represents a smaller group of artists that would rather look to 80’s US power metal and classic European speed metal and it shows in their tasteful approach to a more ‘extreme’ and updated sound. Who would have thought a band known more for the rise of the ‘new wave of american heavy metal’ would be capable of such a successful sonic reprisal?
‘Infernal Overdrive’ gives a little too much bang for your buck, though. The more extended tracks like “Critical Mass” and “The Illusion’s Tears” do lend stylistic and lyrical diversity to the album but to cut those songs and bring the album closer to 45 minutes would have avoided some of the exhaustion that comes with the second half of the album. Plus I think “Chasing Dragons” and “Voyage of the Wolf Raiders” already make a really strong middle of album statement and with just “Caccoon”/”Metamorphosis” to end the album might’ve have improved repeat listening. Outside of those few gripes I really feel like this is the best White Wizzard release and it’s great to see the band expanding their sound beyond the expected.
|Released||January 12, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow White Wizzard on Facebook|
Beacons of hope and unity. 3.85/5.0
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