It’s been a long and rocky road for White Wizzard since they released their debut EPs White Wizzard and High Speed GTO. Over the course of two EPs and two albums they’ve been through more line-up changes than most established bands have in a life time, with their third and latest album The Devil’s Cut being released, have they finally found a stable line-up?
The NWOBHM influence is evident from the first second, with the Maiden stabbing chord progression and harmonised leads cutting through. However, this go around the band have advanced their sound, before they were very much rooted in 1970s/80s Britain, but there’s a progressive edge to the playing now. Sometimes obvious at the front of the music with effects/time signatures/guitar riffs or sometimes hidden in the back with Geddy Lee style bass licks.
The progressive breakdown with Eastern guitar licks during the first proper track, Strike of the Iron, showcases this evolved sound. It’s also our first introduction to the new singer Joseph Michael who for want of a more professional term fucking NAILS it. Those worried by the departure of the Screamin’ Demon from the previous albums should have no fear, sure you miss the familiar sound and power behind his delivery, but this guy does a fantastic job and truly holds his own. His range is demonstrated to its fullest on this first track, from lows to ear piercing highs. Moving on to the new additions on the guitars; I’m not sure if the recording features Jake Dreyer and Will Wallner or if it’s founding member and bass player Jon Leon laying down the tracks, but the solos and rhythms in general are tighter than they have been and outside influences (the eastern vibe) along with the trade-offs show a real step forward. It’s almost as if this track was made to show exactly what White Wizzard 2013 are and to tell the detractors what’s what.
This sets us up nicely for the rest of the album; Kings of the Highway, follows behind and sounds like a spiritual sequel to 40 Deuces from the Over The Top album. The galloping Lightning in My Hands comes next with solos and licks all over the place, leading us on to the slow one; Steal Your Mind. You can really hear the Maiden influence in this one with Strange World being an obvious blue print for the clean portion in both vocal and guitar melodies.
The title track comes next; bringing a much heavier and darker sound to the music. This is followed by the more upbeat, Torpedo of Truth which is, for us here at Sound The Charge!, the best song on the album, but we’ll let you decide that.
The bass driven Storm Chaser is a much more obvious departure from the standard sound with a heavy groove and organ appearing throughout. This might also have the catchiest chorus on the album with a nice key change slide in the vocals.
The album draws to a close with a long epic, The Sun Also Rises. There is a definite Dio influence in this one and is in general a pretty excellent bit of song writing.
Overall the album shows a real step forward and maturity in the song writing without department losing their signature sound. If I had to give a man of the match award to anyone it would be the vocalist, I haven’t been this impressed by a vocal performance in a long time.
I can only hope this line up remains a stable one. The revolving door style White Wizzard have been working under, through no fault of their own I imagine, has stopped some fans really forming a connection to the band. Though members like Jon on bass and Giovanni behind the drums are familiar faces live, when you buy a ticket to a show you want to recognise the band. With a lineup as powerful as the one they currently have they could finally be on the road to bigger and better things.
The Devils Cut is out now on Earache Records.