White Wizzard – “Infernal Overdrive” (M-Theory Audio)
2013 was not a good year for White Wizzard. After a near disintegration of the band through just about everything from personnel issues to being dropped by their label, many thought it would be the last we would hear from the band that was ironically formed as a counter reaction to the screamo music that was prevalent in the LA scene around 2007. Pretty much an instant hit with their traditional 80s heavy metal meets 70s hard rock and prog, White Wizzard signed to Earache, toured the US and UK and along the way won awards for Best Music Video in the 2008 Action On Film Festival and even Metal Hammer’s Golden Gods Award 2010! That was until 2013 – although to be fair to the band, or rather founder bassist Jon Leon, White Wizzard has endured line up changes since it’s very beginnings. Some 4 years on and Leon has now come full circle on this 4th album by re-recruiting guitarist James J LaRue from the band’s first line up and Wyatt ‘Screamin’ Demon’ Anderson from the 2nd one! With plenty of time in between to lick his wounds, Leon also has a new label deal with M-Theory Audio and enlisted producer Ralph Patlan (Megadeth, UFO, Flotsam and Jetsam). Well, I must say that time often heals and indeed “Infernal Overdrive” is nothing short of a miracle! Going back to the band’s roots, songs like ‘Storm The Shores’ or ‘Voyage Of The Wolf Raiders’ are steeped in Maiden influenced heavy metal complete with gallops and deep Steve Harris bass twangs. That said, there has been a widening of the sound – certainly in the second half of the album – to incorporate hard US prog metal on ‘Chasing Dragons’ and plenty of neo classical soloing on tracks like ‘Critical Mass’. Without a doubt this is White Wizzard’s most technical album to date, resplendent with ultra tight performances and plenty of virtuoso moments. At over an hour long including the 11 minute ‘The Illusion’s Tears’, it reflects the maturity inherent in today’s band that while capturing all the groovy ingredients of past White Wizzard work, has moved into an altogether different dimension this time around.