Tuesday, January 16, 2018

White Wizzard - Infernal Overdrive (2018)

It is hard to predict when White Wizzard will churn out a new album, just because of the sad fact that this band literally has no stability. Founder Jon Leon never seems to find the right pieces to make the band a stable tour de force, for reasons that we only can speculate about, but it is quite telling that in their current state, the band does not have a permanent drummer, and that the other two members James LaRue and Wyatt Anderson are back in the fold (this is in fact Wyatt's 4th run with the band). Despite the rotating doors, White Wizzard has still managed to come up with some nice speed metal albums over the years, but can "Infernal Overdrive" meet the expectations that comes with 5 years of album absence?

Well, it is perfectly obvious that "Infernal Overdrive" is White Wizzard to the core, 80's influenced speed metal with tons of catchy choruses and meaty riffs. However, it seems like Mr. Leon is getting ambitious these days, because out of the nine tracks that makes this record, we got four that goes beyond the eight minute mark, including the finisher "The Illusion's Tears" which clocks in just over 11 minutes. It is not like White Wizzard has gone the long road before, but doing so time and time again in this record is really stretching the whole term speed metal, because these 61 minutes does not go by very fast.

And that is exactly my main problem with this album, it feels surprisingly sluggish. I expected this group to put the pedal to the metal, that they would channel that guy from "Mad Max: Fury Road" who wields a flame thrower/guitar hybrid and transform his energy in album format (the cover art certainly hinted that), but they never do. It feels like the hand brake is still active, keeping the band from reaching their full potential. Every element that makes White Wizzard so good is here, but the length of the record works against it. It shows the most in "The Illusion's Tears", which is is way too long and slow for me to care really, just end the album already.

Not to say there is no quality in the record at all, there is some really interesting ideas in some of the longer songs like "Chasing Dragons", "Voyage of The Wold Raiders", and "Critical Mass". Not sure if they fit the band, but it could be the start of an exciting evolution. The guitar play is as playful as ever, wanking its way inside out in the solo bits, and Wyatt's voice was made for speed metal, crushing those higher notes with ease. So the performance can definitely not be blamed for this album's shortcomings

While I do admire White Wizzard's will to expand their sound and bring a lot of music to their dedicated fans, "Infernal Overdrive" does come out as a drag, overstaying its welcome quite a bit. It really would not be all that bad if they would have just crammed in one more fast burner, say something that matched the intensity of "Storm The Shores", just to bring some good and much needed variety. It still has a lot of interesting ideas, and the execution is on point, so fans of the band will surely enjoy this effort, but it just does not have the bite that the previous records have. Let us hope that Mr. Leon has finally found some stability within the line-up, and that the next album will be a killer thanks to the improved chemistry.

Songs worthy of recognition: Critical Mass, Storm The Shores, Chasing Dragons

Rating: 6,5/10 Pretty Mays


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