Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Iron Gods of Vengeance

White Wizzard - Over The Top

Earache Records – 2010

The first thing you notice when dropping the needle on White Wizzard’s Over The Top is the galloping bass of Jon Leon thundering up front like Steve Harris circa ’82. Leon is the main man behind White Wizzard and as such writes all the songs and lyrics and performs almost all of the lead, rhythm, and bass guitars in the studio.

White Wizzard was formed in 2007 in Los Angeles, California and released their debut EP White Wizzard in 2008 which was re-released in 2009 as High Speed GTO. The EP featured a completely different line up than Over The Top and included future Holy Grail founders James Paul Luna, James J. Larue and Tyler Meahl. The ever popular “creative differences” led to Luna, Larue and Meahl to leave amid not a little bit of rancor.

Jon Leon regrouped and recruited a completely new lineup for Over The Top. The most notable addition is vocalist Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson who sings in a powerful, clear voice and in some songs sounds much like Mike Howe of Heretic and Metal Church. Wyatt’s vocal abilities help White Wizzard to sound like equal parts Judas Priest circa British Steel and Iron Maiden before 1986. This is a potent combination that most metal bands back in the mid-80’s were striving to achieve and White Wizzard has managed to blend these two influences perfectly.

Over The Top features such up-tempo anthems as “Over The Top,” “40 Deuces,” “High Roller,” “Live Free Or Die,” and “Death Race.” In case you weren’t sure whether or not Jon Leon is a Iron Maiden fan or not, just take a listen to the cut “Strike Of The Viper” which has the line, “Can you feel the strike of the Viper, 6 6 6.” Number of the beast, strike of the viper, either works for The Metal Blog Of Metal. All of these tracks feature lyrical themes about such metal topics as: taking risks, having wings of steel, fighting it out Road Warrior style in a dystopian future, freedom, and muscle cars.

The lead single from the album is “Over The Top” and the band made a hilarious video for it. Leon clearly understands the 1980’s metal video esthetic as it features a ghost town, two dueling wizards, hot chicks, a Pontiac GTO and the band rocking in the middle of nowhere. Follow the viewing of it with W.A.S.P.’s “Wild Child” as a chaser.

Somewhat unexpected are the two epic tracks, “Iron Goddess of Vengeance” and “White Wizzard” which both clock in at seven plus minutes. “Iron Goddess of Vengeance” is a personal favorite that starts off with ominous chanting and proceeds to build to a furious climax as the Iron Goddess reclaims her crown from Satan himself. The track is pure vanadium and is the center piece of the album with its progressive structure and superb songwriting. “White Wizzard” is the final track and tells the tale of dueling wizards and a dragon which, as Ronnie James Dio would tell you from his throne in Valhalla, is what metal is all about.

Earache offers the album in the following formats:

  • Standard CD
  • Limited Edition CD with bonus disc featuring the cover songs “Gates of Gehanna” by Cloven Hoof and “Heading Out To The Highway” by Judas Priest.
  • Standard Vinyl
  • Vinyl Picture Disc
  • Digital Download


The Bottom Line: If you like your metal traditional and fun Over The Top is exactly what you are looking for. Is it revolutionary in any way? No, but then again, I don’ t think it was meant to be revolutionary but rather it was meant to be a pure expression of early 80's metal. As the band have mentioned in interviews, Metal should be about fun and this is certainly a fun album. It has excellent songwriting, playing, and vocals and displays a purity that many bands fail to achieve in our irony saturated world. Definitely pick it up and check them out on tour this summer and fall.


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