By Sebastian Vazquez
White Wizzard, the banner band of the NWOTHM underground revival, has released its fourth studio effort, ‘Infernal Overdrive’, amidst much anticipation and excitement. If you aren’t familiar with White Wizzard, the band finds inspiration from the classic heavy metal colorations that were prominent in the 1980s, notably that of pioneers Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. What they have been able to accomplish over the last decade is quality tracks for those who choose to swim with the underground revival of traditional heavy metal, who also enjoy the likes of Night Demon, Cauldron, Enforcer, High Spirits, Skull Fist and Sumerlands. Their recent production values have elevated the band’s mainstay sound of twin guitar leads, extended solo breaks, and the high pitched wailing and singing which we have grown to love, thanks to the forefathers Dio, Dickinson, and Halford.
White Wizzard has undergone lineup changes over the years, but the reunification of vocalist Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson and Jon Leon, the return ofJames J LaRue and the added buff of drummer Dylan Marks (Eukaryst, Beekeeper) has allowed for a promising blend of musicians to produce a quality album, one that will undoubtedly be their flagship for years to come. The band releases ‘Infernal Overdrive’ for a hungry metal crowd, those of the ‘keep it true’, the denim and leather crowd, the diehard followers of the traditional metal scene, they will find the album highly approachable and entertaining.
What White Wizzard has been able to accomplish here is a crafty blend of a new sound, mixing all that they are known for and sprinkling in a very refreshing and promising progressive stylistic turn. Sure there are the ubiquitous twin guitar leads and fast-paced grooves, but the noteworthy choice of taking a dip into longer running-time songwriting, allows for the band to discover new musical limits. The album, clocking in at just past the hour mark, takes a sharp turn in progressive metal songwriting, with extended solo sections that often interweave similar, yet shifting groves that will yield recollection to sounds found in Fates Warning and classic Queensrÿche.
Their departures from previous album efforts in sound are found in songs ‘Chasing Dragons’ and ‘The Illusion’s Tear’ notably. Both include more somber, melancholy hints, and feature acoustic passages sandwiched between catchy riffs and sweet leads. In comparison to other White Wizzard albums, the technical performances really shine.
Solo sections in ‘Storm the Shores’ and ‘Critical Mass” display the brilliance of the lead guitar work, and across the album, the bass really grooves well as it dances under busy and often technical riffage. Drummer Dylan Marks finds ways to showcase his talents in avoiding the typical ’80s drum cliches, and provides a very natural and seemingly effortless demonstration of high technical ability across the album. Jon Leon really did well in putting together an A-Team.
The standout tracks include ‘Chasing Dragons’ and the album’s single, ‘Storm the Shore’. If you were to objectively place them side by side without knowing who wrote the songs, you could very much bank on that they are from two completely different bands. The stylistic shapeshifting found on ‘Infernal Overdrive’ helps White Wizzard without getting too tired in sounding repetitive. While there are times where you feel like originality and creativity were lacking, as the typical tropes of the NWOTHM are found here and there, the band takes the drier moments and navigates into something fresh to save grace.
What Wizzard to me in the past was the type of band that I could throw on and never really find myself paying attention to the marginal intricacies. Just music that is easy come and easy flow, and stuff that sounds pretty much the same across all the songs on the record. But with their newest album, I have found myself discovering new bits here and there, as I listen to it across varying mediums of sound, such as laptop speakers, quality headphones, bluetooth speakers, and even through a hi-fi stereo set. I wanted to be able to spend time really isolating the variations of songwriting, and newest incarnation and representation of White Wizzard really glows.
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Record Label: M-Theory Audio
Release Date: January 12 2018
1. Infernal Overdrive (4:53)
2. Storm the Shores (4:31)
3. Pretty May (3:18)
4. Chasing Dragons (8:16)
5. Voyage of the World Raiders (9:38)
6. Critical Mass (8:34)
7. Cocoon (6:17)
8. Metamorphosis (4:36)
9. The Illusion’s Tear (11:03)
Total Duration: 62:16