[25th June 2013]
01. Forging The Steel
02. Strike The Iron
03. Kings of the Highway
04. Lighning In My Hands
05. Steal Your Mind
06. The Devil’s Cut
07. Torpedo Of Truth
08. Storm Chaser
09. The Sun Also Rises
White Wizzard have been the focus of a fair amount of scrutiny from some metal blogs lately – scrutiny of the good kind. The Los Angeles-based trad-metal band have gone through quite a few lineup changes since its inception and even since its debut album, most of it due to bassist and band-leader Jon Leon allegedly being hard to get along with. However, that is not good basis on which to judge an album, so we’ll put all that aside for now. If I’m being truly honest, I really enjoyed White Wizzard’s High Speed GTO EP, and their debut studio album Over The Top was really good as well. Their second album, Flying Tigers, however, was flat, lacking the good melodic hooks and high speed punch that the first had. Multiple lineup changes, including a vocalist, later brings them to 2013, and the release of third album The Devil’s Cut.
First thing’s first: all the lineup changes does not mean the band is bad. I can think of another notable band who had markedly unstable lineups in their early years before settling down and becoming legendary - Iron Maiden. However, the difference is Iron Maiden were pioneers, whereas White Wizzard are nothing of the sort. They draw large amounts of influence from bands such as Maiden, Judas Priest, and Dio, but don’t really do much to flavour it with their own sounds. It is an okay album, I find it better than Flying Tigers, but it still is a disappointing release by a band I once saw so much potential in. Some of the lyrics are kind of silly (“Torpedo of Truth”? Come on guys) but are accompanied by solid melodies to balance it out.
Jon Leon is a fantastic bassist, and the rest of the musicians in the band are no slouches either. One of the big questions coming in was if the new vocalist could adequately replace former frontman, Wyatt ‘Screaming Demon’ Anderson. The answer is; yes, yes he can. Joseph Michael has a very strong voice and an excellent range in his own right, even reminding me a bit of Stu Block (Iced Earth), meaning he should easily be able to placate any Wyatt fans that are hanging around. In fact, Michael’s upper range has more power than Anderson’s did, which is a plus. Leon’s bass lines are really quite good and very Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) in composition. The guitar parts intertwine well enough and provide a decent amount of melodic backing, even if it isn’t always well written.
One thing about the guitars though, is the tone is really mushy and weak. The bass sounds good, and the organ that appears on one track is nice, but the guitar was really under-produced. It isn’t normally a big thing, but in this case it serves to weaken the impact of the riffs the band uses. The solos and melodies sound fine, but the riffs are flaccid. The opening for “Torpedo of Truth” for example, should have more punch than it does, but for the weakness in the tone.
Trad metal revival is a bit of a niche trend in this modern age, unfortunately, which means bands need to be either fantastic, or they need to adapt, and White Wizzard shows no signs of either. The Devil’s Cut is a solid album, though for a third album one would hope that the band would have more to offer than yet more Iron Maiden worship. There are a couple good songs on here, even if the lyrics are clichéd, such as “Steal Your Mind” “Storm Chaser” and “Torpedo of Truth” but the album is pretty inconsistent and it isn’t all that well produced. Hardcore White Wizzard fans should love this, but more casual fans of trad metal maybe want to look elsewhere, perhaps Enforcer’s new album which absolutely slays.