White Wizzard are a Los Angeles, CA based heavy metal band that are heavily influenced by 1980's traditional heavy metal, and especially the early 80's New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands. They make no apologies for their love of 80's metal and their desire to bring back that style. After releasing a self-titled EP, they were signed to Earache Records, who promptly repackaged and reissued the EP (same tracks with one song renamed), branding the new EP as "High Speed GTO". Tensions arose in the band after the EP release and founder Jon Leon (bass) ended up firing the rest of the band, most of whom moved on to form Holy Grail. After the band's equally successful full length album "Over the Top", the band's member woes continued as two guys have already jumped ship, including vocalist Wyatt "Screaming" Anderson.
White Wizzard - High Speed GTO (Earache) 2009
1. High Speed GTO (3:57)
2. Celestina (3:47)
3. Into the Night (3:05)
4. March of the Skeletons (4:35)
5. Megalodon (3:53)
6. Octane Gypsy (4:01)
7. Red Desert Skies" (3:32)
"High Speed GTO" the debut EP by New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal band White Wizzard. The EP, released on Earache Records, was originally released as an independent EP that was self-titled and had different cover art.
White Wizzard's style of traditional metal is obviously heavily influenced by their 1980's metal heroes, with a big nod towards the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early 80's. If the album cover doesn't tip you off of their influences, then the Iron Maiden-style lettering on the song titles and the band member photos should give you a crystal clear picture. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon, etc. are all obvious influences on White Wizzard. However, they don't really sound like a clone of any one particular band in that list. Rather they take those influences and really create their own unique sound. It's heavy, but melodic and stacked with hooks. There are no "heavier than thou" attitudes and no musicians trying to out-play the next guy. This is all about classic heavy metal; galloping riffs, shredding guitar solos, hook-laden song writing, and a band-yer-hear ethic. This is heavy metal from the golden age of metal back from the dead and alive again.
Vocalist James Paul Luna has a high, clean vocal style the isn't far off from Sean Harris from Diamond Head, though because this band is from Los Angels, CA, lacks that European accent. His style works well with the band fun style and allows for those fists-in-the-air sing along choruses. The title track with it's dual guitar harmonies and Maiden-esque bass lines also sports a monster hook that is really brought to life by Luna's vocals. The opening lick to the song reminds me a bit of Saxon. Fortunately, the opening track isn't the only song that sports a big hook. The very next song, "Celestina" has a rockin' verse and an undeniable hook to the chorus that could catch a whale. Once again, the NWOBHM influence comes through in this song as well, sounding a bit like early Def Leppard (as in "On the Through the Night" when they actually played heavy metal). "Into the Night" sports Judas Priest inspired opening riff and some nice soling. However, its track four, "March of the Skeletons", that really sticks in my head like glue. It has a sound not unlike Dio, but also has elements of Maiden as well. Though it's one of the less upbeat songs on the EP, it is certainly the standout cut. Closing track "Red Desert Sky" is very Maiden-inspired though could never be mistaken for an Iron Maiden recording.
This EP is nearly thirty minutes long, rivaling the time of many full-lenth albums from the 70's and 80's. It's one of those albums that leaves me wanting for more, which is a good thing. Never do I find myself bored while listening to this EP. "High Speed GTO" is an impressive EP. It certainly peeked my interest in the band. I immediately went out and purchased their follow-up "Over the Top" (2010).
The Earache version comes with a bonus music video for the song "High Speed GTO".
White Wizzard - Over The Top (Earache Records) 2011
1. Over The Top (5:08)
2. 40 Deuces (4:35)
3. High Roller (4:35)
4. Live Free Or Die (5:35)
5. Iron Goddess Of Vengeance (7:33)
6. Out Of Control (4:01)
7. Strike Of The Viper (4:05)
8. Death Race (4:21)
9. White Wizzard (6:58)
There was a time in the 1980's when heavy metal was heavy metal. Fans embraced everything from Venom to Ratt and it was all part of the fun and entertainment of heavy metal. Over the years the genre has fragmented into so many splinters and bands began trying to mix in other styles of music in an attempt to be "creative". As well, through the decades, metal had become this angry, serious minded anti-social nihilism. It's all about how much life sucks. The showmanship is gone from the stage. The fun is gone from the music. It's my opinion that heavy metal has lost it's focus. One could argue that the musicianship has improved, but I'd even argue that point. Frankly, it's all rock and roll! It's not rocket science and should be fun! White Wizzard are a new band from California that bring the fun back to heavy metal.
After an EP release in 2009 the band recorded and released "Over The Top", their first full-length CD in 2010. Though their existence up to this point has been relatively short and the band members probably weren't even around in the heavy metal explosion of the 1970's and 80's, their sound is firmly rooted in that classic, old-school, heavy metal sound. On my first spin, I was reminded of bands like Riot, The Rods, Saxon and to a lesser degree UFO and M.S.G.. The song structures are fairly simple, but there are hooks galore. Enter in the fun part. Once again, it's not about complex songs structures. The point is head-banging, sing-along, fists-in-the-air heavy metal. The title track kicks off the album in great form, with some nice guitar work, a sing-along chorus and competent vocals from Wyatt "Screamin' Demon" Anderson. He generally sings in a mid range, but can really belt out the high notes as well. "High Roller" has some nice Maiden-esque guitar work. "Iron Goddess Of Vengeance" is a mid-tempo, epic track, clocking in at nearly 7 minutes long. The song never gets boring as it has plenty of variety within the song, along with some more stellar guitar work and skillful soloing. The CD ends with the band's eponymous, a song which has a slightly ominous, haunting vibe. The entire album has a huge NWOBHM vibe to it, despite more modern production and recording techniques being quite obvious.
The lyrics are about as cliché as can be with lots of glory of metal, "hail rock and roll, metallic overload" type lryics and, unfortunately, even a Grim Reaper-ish "join the legions of hell" type song called "Strike of the Viper". Sure, White Wizzard may be cheesy and cliché at times, but that's part of the fun of it all as well. All in all, "Over The Top" is an enjoyable, uptempo dose of traditional metal.
White Wizzard - Flying Tigers (Earrache) 2011
1. Fight to the Death (4:54)
2. West L.A. Nights (4:38)
3. Starchild (5:24)
4. Flying Tigers (5:08)
5. Night Train to Tokyo (5:02)
6. Night Stalker (3:55)
7. Fall of Atlantis (5:08)
8. Blood On the Pyramids (2:58)
9. Demons and Diamonds (9:13)
10. Dark Alien Overture [instrumental] (2:13)
11. War of the Worlds (4:03)
12. Starman's Son (6:38)
California retro-headbangers White Wizzard are back with their second full length release. The NWOTHM band doesn't fall into the sophomore slump but releases their best album yet. Member changes seem to plague this band with bassist and principle songwriter Jon Leon being the one constant. This time around Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson remains on vocals but apparently left the band following the recording. Also back is Giovanni Durst is back on drums.
"Flying Tigers" is an album that surprised me. What I liked about the band's first two releases was their straight-forward approach. It's simple, straight-forward heavy metal with hooky choruses and memorable songwriting. With "Flying Tigers" the album is basically split into two, with the first half continuing that trend of fist-pumping traditional heavy metal. Songs like "West L.A. Nights" and the title track are memorable, sing-along anthems. "Starchild" is a power ballad in the tradition of Judas Priest's "Beyond the Realms of Death" or "Last Rose of Summer". The song starts out slowly and builds up much like the aforementioned Priest songs. Surprisingly this song was released as the band's first single. Though I like the song, I feel like some of the heavier tunes are catchier and would work better as singles, though I suppose it matters not when it comes to traditional heavy metal. This is not exactly the type of music that is burning up the airwaves.
The second half of the album features more progressive songwriting and all the songs are tied together by a storyline. Though I didn't delve deeply into the storyline, it seems the story involves aliens, the New World Order and and something about the son of a star man. Frankly the storyline doesn't really interest me anywhere near as much as the music. Many concept albums are boring as the storyline becomes the focus the music is second. That's not the case here. The music sounds like a combination of Iron Maiden and Rush, especially some of the dominant bass playing. Take one listen to the progressive overtones and bass playing on "Dark Alien Overture" and hear how much influence Geddy Lee and Steve Harris has had on Jon Leon. "Demons and Diamonds" is the longest cut and is most certainly cut in the mold of "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" and perhaps the "2112" suite. Never once during this epic length song did I find myself wanting to hit the skip button. In fact, the entire concept half of the album is quite enthralling.
"Flying Tigers" should have been on my Top 10 list for 2011. It's that good. It's unfortunate that I didn't pick up this gem sooner.
The cover art is reminiscent of Fatal Violence - Ashes Tell No Tales.