Released: 2013, Earache/Century Media Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
A revolving door of members does not the makings of a viable band, well, make. And more than a dozen dudes have been in and out of L.A.’s White Wizzard since 2007, including five singers, two of whom did two stints with the band. Indeed, founding bassist Jon Leon’s been the lone mainstay, though drummer Giovanni Durst has hung on since 2009.
Yet despite the turmoil, the band have been surprisingly productive, delivering two EPs and, with the late-June release of The Devil’s Cut, three albums during that time. And it hasn’t really affected their sound that much either. The addition of air raid siren-voiced frontman Joseph Michael only gives their Euro-centric power metal more of an '80s-vintage Judas Priest or Iron Maiden vibe.
That might have been what Leon was looking for in the first place, given his penchant for Steve Harris-style fleet-fingered bass runs and dogfight guitaring – here courtesy of Will Wallner and Jake Dreyer, both relatively recent recruits. “Lightning In My Hands” and the title track sound like something off of Maiden's Killers, if Bruce Dickinson had done the vocals. Elsewhere, as on lyrically ludicrous “Torpedo of Truth” Durst's racing tempos, Wallner and Dreyer's more pronounced leads and big choruses that showcase Michael's limber pipes drive things into more Hammerfall/Iced Earth-like territory.
White Wizzard are actually at their best when their influences aren't so blatantly in your face. The multidimensional and magnificently epic 9-plus minute closer “The Sun Also Rises” is a gem, as is “Steal Your Mind,” another of the album's longer, more adventurous tracks. Though unquestionably indulgent, these over-the-top metal jams at least offer something distinctive and natural: something that says White Wizzard and not “this sure sounds a lot like ___.” Let's hope for more of this next time, no matter who's on hand to perform it.