White Wizzard // The Devil’s Cut
Rating: 5.0/5.0 — A (post?) modern heavy metal classic.
Label: Earache Records
Websites: whitewizzardofficial.com  |  myspace.com/whitewizzard
Release Date: EU: Out now!  |  NA: 06.25.2013 |

White WizzardEverything about this record is perfect. From the wacky, bright, colorful and sharp-looking album artwork to the catchy operatic singing, Los Angeles band White Wizzard makes sure that every detail not only pays homage to traditional heavy metal, but is also (more importantly) given a modern touch as well.

The musical similarities to earlier heavy metal bands (especially Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) can definitely be heard [O RLY? – AMG]. But the music sounds a little too modern to be considered “traditional heavy metal.” For one, the technical complexity of the instrumental performances is definitely in line with the modern phenomenon of there being many young metal instrumentalists who can play the crap out of their gear. Yet the band keeps in mind the golden rule of writing good, non-avant-garde music: songs with simple structures that are easy to follow and digest.

What stands out most in this album is the chemistry between guitarists Jake Dreyer and Will Wallner. Right from the bouncy introduction of opening instrumental track “Forging the Steel”, you can hear their signature dual-lead-guitar attack, which is very capable of coaxing one’s brain to become an endorphin junkie [You mean Murray and Smith by ‘they,’ right? – AMG]. The sheer freshness of hearing this intricate and melodic cooperative guitar playing immediately gives you a hunch that the rest of the album is not going to disappoint.

Every subsequent track not only contains this exemplary coordinated guitar playing, but smokin’ guitar solos and licks, tight and technical drumming and insanely memorable vocal hooksWhite_Wizzard as well. In fact, even the breakdowns sound awesome. For example, the one heard from 4:41 to 5:34 in “Strike the Iron” re-appropriates the hitherto negative word of “breakdown” into a positive one. One will never remember it as single-note, palm-muted riffs again.

The next thing that grabs one’s attention like an Alien butthugger drawn to Ace Ventura’s butt is vocalist Joseph Michael’s powerful clean singing, which is reminiscent of the vocal work of such legendary singers as Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. His operatic and frequently stratospheric singing often alters between the tenor and alto vocal ranges as and when necessary, and it is at its very best when dishing out extremely catchy lines such as “Raise your sword and point it to the SKKKYYYYYY!!!!1 (“Strike The Iron”) and “It’s like lightning in my HAAAAANDS, eeeelectric Sun AND steel!” (“Lightning In My Hands”)

Michael also often self-harmonizes to great effect (e.g. “Strike the Iron”, “Kings of the Highway Hell” and “Lightning in My Hands”), which gives his singing a rich texture and keeps it sounding varied and interesting. There is never a moment when Michael resorts to using a ‘speaking’ voice to take up precious bits. All he does is belt out very melodic clean singing and addictive vocal hooks, and that is all that people really want to hear in their heavy metal.

There is one dude with a music degree in this group, and boy does he prove that official certification can mean something in the largely anti-establishment realm of heavy metal. He is none other than drummer Giovanni Dürst, and he is from the Berklee College of Music. His drumming is technically intricate and serves as a reliable metronome for the rest of his band mates despite frequent time signature changes.

Winter WarlockAs with any great modern metal record, the bass line plays more than just a simple accompaniment role here. Frontman and bassist Jon Leon doesn’t relegate his musical line to being mere harmonic accompaniment, for he makes it stand out at times with groovy, blues-based motifs (“Strike the Iron”, “Steal Your Mind” and “Storm Chaser”) that will be copied and pasted into one’s mental repository of humming melodies. Leon also wrote the lyrics, some of which deal with organized religion’s practice of encouraging herd mentality among its followers, and while they are certainly unoriginal, at least one could interpret them as being a cheeky postmodern parody of old heavy metal stereotypes.

With a vivid piece of artwork, cliché but apt lyrics, potent clean singing and the effective combination of technically complex instrumentals and structurally simple songs, White Wizzard has crafted a record that will be remembered by us and known to posterity as an early 21st Century heavy metal classic. Break out the wallets and start throwing wads of cash at their homepage or the Earache Records online shop!

Show 1 footnote

  1. IMPORTANT REMINDER: Upon hearing that lung-crushing and uvula-quivering scream of the word “sky”, please take a break to apply Testi-Gro on your groin area and wait for your marbles to grow back.

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  • Noctus

    WHAT I DISAGREE RARARARAAAA STOP WRITING REVIEWS FOREVER

  • Francesco Bordoni

    I read the review and listened something on youtube: maybe it isn’t really a 5.0 for my tastes, but it’s definitely something worth digging

  • RU63

    m/

  • Solid, fun, nostalgic and entertaining album. Perfect? Hmm….

    • It’s not nostalgic for me ‘cos I’m younger than you, geezer!

      • Come to New York and say that! I’ll make you a Sad Metal Guy post haste!

        • I don’t mind that at all! I’ve always wanted to visit at least one of the five crime families of New York before using my steel detector to sniff you out and give you a wedgie the way the Mask does it. Wire me the money and I’ll go over asap!

  • KingKuranes

    Hmm… Not sure about this one HMG…

  • woodlandwolf

    footnote lulz

  • Shahir Chagan

    I’m getting the feeling that Happy Metal Guy was on a Happy Metal High while reviewing this…

    • Say, you might be right! Though I have an upcoming article that could be seen as my defense for this record’s perfect score.

      • Shahir Chagan

        Is the article going to be about not getting inebriated with cheap beer and drugs BEFORE you listen to (and review) a classic metal album? ;)

        • Nope, it will be my version of AMG’s post on the topic of objectivity in music-reviewing, so it’s a serious one!

          • Shahir Chagan

            Looking forward to it!

  • Gustaf Lundström

    Sounds like a solid album. My jaw is yet to drop, though. Best thing about the album has to be the overall old-school production and mixing which, as we all know, makes the quality of the music rise exponentially the more you turn up the volume.

  • Eryops

    I have Over the Top, and while a handful of the songs are catchy, it didn’t really catch on with me. I was always wondering about the constant rotating of band members too, so I hope they have something that can stay together for a while. Lyrically I find them pretty weaksauce, too.

    I’ll check this one out, and see if it catches my fancy more than OtT did. From what I’ve heard previously, I’m not sure a 5 is possible, but we’ll see.

    • Since one’s personal experience of listening to music is subjective, my perfect score only makes sense in the context of my argument. It’s the words on this page that are important here, not the level of enjoyment you or I received from listening to this record.

      • Eryops

        Okay, I’ve squeezed YouTube for songs on the new album. I’m very impressed with what I’ve heard so far. It’s definitely a progression of the band, and one that I’m very excited about. Can’t wait to get!

  • I’m not going to lie… I’ve listened to this album exactly once, and it was incredibly boring. I really liked their High Speed GTO EP, which had a nice Iron Maiden sound to it, and Over The Top was pretty good as well, but they’ve been uninspired and uninteresting ever since, and this is no different.

    Whatever. To each his own. But if you really want a 2013 example of classic metal done right, you should be listening to Life Sentence by Satan.

    • I think White Wizzard’s current vocalist sings better than Satan’s vocalist. Otherwise, that album by Satan certainly sounds melodic and hooky!

  • nunka

    This is the first highly-rated classic/heavy/retro/whatever album on this site that I’ve actually liked. Props to White Wizzard. Catchy shit, man.

    • RU63

      Tottaly agree with you. I am pissed that they don’t ship to Canada (went to their site to buy it as soon as I heard the first song). Guess I’ll have to wait.

      • Ooooh! That opening instrumental is just pure rainbow goodness isn’t it?

        • RU63

          It is pure METAL goodness.

  • harley_d68

    Definitely NOT a perfect album. It might have been a perfect Maiden album 20+ years ago, but not now.

    • So time is a huge factor in deciding if a music album is perfect? Since we live in a timeless era known as the postmodern age, I think not. The criteria for a “perfect” album in such a queer time have to be based on other factors, such as entertainment value, replayability and level of parody-ness.

      • harley_d68

        No, I just don’t think this is a perfect album. Don’t get me wrong – I like it. In my review (yet to post at We Love Metal) I wrote, “White Wizzard carry the Traditional Metal flag proudly and, quite frankly, do a good job of it.” I do enjoy it, but I gave it 6/10. That’s the great thing about metal. We can both listen to the same thing and get something different from it.
        I thought your review was well done.

        • Thank you for the compliment. Well, it doesn’t just apply to metal; it applies to all other genres of music too!

  • RilesBell

    Seems quite generic to me. One does not simply hand out 5.0 scores..

  • Guest

    nice subjective review. 5.0, i dunno. but at least its not objective!

  • skooly d

    nice subjective review. 5.0, i dunno. but at least its not objective!!

  • cf

    The SKYYYY is really killing me… Good footnote

    • Just makes you wanna bust your own family jewels, doesn’t it??

  • thebrainfart

    Did you REALLY call this a “perfect” metal album? Did Jon Leon pay you to write this? I’ve never heard a more mediocre release since well, everything by Manowar.

    • Yeah, I did. If you’re not sure you read it right, go read the first six words of this review again. I’m telling you you’re in reality now, and not in the Matrix. I remember rescuing you yesterday!

      And no, unfortunately, Jon Leon didn’t pay me ENOUGH, or else I would have given this a score of 5.5/5. :<

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