Metalfier (x-Disillusion) and tickets are $15.
White Wizzard has been a tough act to keep up with as the band has had substantial line-up shifts with each release, with only constant in the lineup being bassist Jon Leon. Earlier this summer, White Wizzard released its third full-length, The Devil’s Cut (Earache Records), and this release is the best thing the band has done since their self-titled debut EP.
Early on, White Wizzard got tagged with the genre label “new wave of traditional heavy metal” when this label first surfaced a few years ago in reference to bands who utilize dual lead guitars in a style similar to Iron Maiden and/or early Judas Priest. While one can hear a bit of Maiden influences on The Devil’s Cut, White Wizzard’s sound is more akin to Dio’s work with Rainbow and Black Sabbath crossed with hook-heavy, swaggering Sunset Strip c*ck rock. Complementing the music, new vocalist Joseph Michael can hit the high notes but, on most of the disc, he sings in a register closer to that of Dio or Ray Gillen (Black Sabbath/Badlands).
The disc starts with a two minute instrumental “Forging the Steel” which is powered by a galloping beat over which guitarists Jake Dreyer and Will Wallner play dark-tuned leads and this instrumental flows straight into the early Rainbow-ish “Strike the Iron”. While the disc starts with a guitar duel (which I’m sure drives a lot of the Priest/Maiden comparisons), the guitar leads throughout this disc are predominately “European metal” sounding so there really isn’t much of a comparison to any of the NWOBHM bands. Even the comparison of “Strike the Iron” to a Rainbow track only gets you part of the way. This song takes some unexpected twists and turns, including a brief interlude into Black Metal, which will keep the listener engaged and on their toes. With most of the songs on this disc clocking in over five minutes, White Wizzard has room to experiment and change styles both within and between songs.
“Kings of the Highway” and “Lightening in My Hands” are two of the songs on the disc that could easily become FM-radio staples. Both songs are melodic, hook-heavy arena rockers with killer alternating guitar leads and creative drumming that continually pushes these songs forward at a relentless pace. Never staying in one place for long, the 7+ minute track “Lightening in My Hands” starts slower paced and moody and sounds like an updated take on Dio-era Rainbow or Black Sabbath, even down to where the song picks up speed about the 5-minute mark. Picking the speed back up, this track is followed by the album’s title cut, “The Devil’s Cut”, which starts with a rumbling bass line from Jon Leon before kicking into the most aggressive song on the disc. “The Devil’s Cut” is the closest that White Wizzard comes to a thrash metal tune but the melodic chorus pulls this song back from going completely over the edge. The disc closes with the epic-length “The Sun Also Rises” which is a proggy/moody piece that is similar in spirit to “Lightening in My Hands”.