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White Wizzard - Infernal Overdrive

Label: M-Theory Audio
Format: download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9.5/ 10

Before we dive into the review, take a deep, cleansing breath. Clear your mind of anything you've ever heard or read about Jon Leon and White Wizzard's past internal/external dramas.

Ready? Good. Hold on to your purse, and let's continue. . .


"Infernal Overdrive" is pure throwback genius. At all times, the White Wizzard sound emulates Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, Helloween, or some combination of the four. At some times, the imitation goes beyond flattery into sheep-cloning, notably during the "Powerslave"-copying "Voyage of the Wolf Raiders" - - with it's jingoistic lyrics that make WWE seem subtle - - and the painfully "Painkiller"-esque title track opener. This soundalike ploy would be fatal, if the songs weren't so goddamned good.
And they are. Goddamned excellent - - all nine of them, including the two I just mentioned. High energy, high voltage, high octane power, meant for high speed GTO driving. You know how a lot of Metal tunes have crossover appeal, and can be enjoyed by fans of all kinds of music? Yeah, that's not the case here. White Wizzard make spike-glove, horn-throwing, white hot Heavy Metal for Heavy Metal fans. Every song is a highlight, but I’ll single out “The Illusion’s Tears,” which shifts from ballad to powerhouse, and “Critical Mass,” which skewers critics as artistic afterbirth. (Wait a minute. . . that’s me, man!)
The band lineup has shuffled a lot, over the course of their 11 years and 4 studio albums, with bassist/founder/one-time vocalist Jon Leon as the only constant. Like the cast of any primetime TV drama, a number of incredibly talented performers have come and gone, but I hope the lineup for "Infernal Overdrive" sticks. Leon, guitarist James J. La Rue, and drummer Devin Lebsack turn chemistry into symmetry into synergy - - and returning vocalist Wyatt "Screamin' Demon" Anderson is right back where he belongs.
You might not be able to get beyond the media circus from this band's past enough to take them seriously (go back and read the first paragraph again), but that would be a shame. Whatever their perceived faults , whatever drama follows them, they're writing good, pure, unfiltered Metal music from previous decades, that still sounds vibrant and relevant today. If it had released two weeks earlier, it would have been on my Best Of list for 2017. I predict it will hang around and make my Best Of for 2018.

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