Wednesday, September 23, 2009

White Wizzard - High Speed GTO

White Wizzard
High Speed GTO

Are you tired of the relentless nĂ¼-metal onslaught? (I know I am.) Do you turn your nose up at the suggestion that groups like Isis and Mastodon are metal? (I don’t, but I know folks who do.) You’re not the only one. Bassist/bandleader Jon Leon wanted a metal band that pretended that the 90s and the ‘aughts never happened, and, by Zeus, he got it with White Wizzard. The L.A. band’s debut EP is seven songs’ worth of driving, melodic hard rock in the vein of the non-superstar NWOBHM bands like Diamond Head, Angel Witch and Praying Mantis. James LaRue’s guitars are heavy, but not too heavy – there’s no mistaking this for downtuned sludge. Leon’s powerful bass manages to be busy as hell while staying in lockstep with Tyler Meahl’s drums. Frontdude James Paul Luna’s voice neither soars nor growls, but sticks to a tuneful mid-range charisma. The lyrics can be goofy - from the prehistoric shark-loving Megalodon: Denizon [sic] of creepy seas/Born of ancient depths is he/From the world of heinous beasts/Beady eyes a thousand teeth – but there seems to be not jot of irony. Most impressively, the songs are unfailingly catchy without making any concessions to pop – the 80s hair metal crowd would’ve killed for tunes as memorable as those that power Into the Night, Octane Gypsy and the title cut, but these tracks are built for arenas, not top 40 radio. White Wizzard is defiantly unhip and uncool, and that makes this homage to metal’s illustrious past seem almost innocent, giving _High Speed GTO_ strength to last beyond any retro revivals.

Unfortunately, Leon fired the rest of the band after these recordings were made – hopefully the new lineup will propel the forthcoming full-length to the same heights.

- Michael Toland
Raygun Cowboys - Raygun Cowboys

Frantically frazzled rockin' swinging from the get go from these Canadian crazies like fresh air crushed outta you with the weight of a grizzly landing atop your lung enclavatures. Tis no mean feet to stomp your own flavour into the tightly strictured sounds of rockabilly that too frequently seems as though some dude with a clipboard comes around to check the instruments, attire and body art are all sufficiently identikit. This is pure party time on the breadline, broncos and babearoooos, cartoon capers from the the opening double shot salvo of Asbestos Rock and Devil On My Mind right through to the doo wop stomp of closer One Life Left and unhidden bonus tracks recalling an Ant Hill Mob or soundtrack to a crime caper racing downhill with heads up high all the way. Fuelled equally on the spirit of The Ramones (above and beyond the song Joey Ramone Street) and The Pogues (ditto closing time lament For The Whisky) as much as any right on rockabilly, though some loosely juicalicious twang is right in there, twinklin' and tickling between the slap, the inclusion of brass in the shape of trumpet and trombone only increases and accentuates the swing and the haystack-toppling hooks they reel and rush through your hair and hinds like hounds with hooch-lust. But dismissing such antics as a novelty would be to turn an inbredly mutated ear to the gristle on these bones. Nor should such lead some to dismiss them as like the grungier Rocket From The Crypt, there's more country hick on these winds (Come Back To Me) than them or the more hard-edged though equally glory-deserving Kings Of Nuthin'. And the ska-punk shouldn't really even deserve a mention. The closest they come to that is the gypsy-infused fun, appropriately, of Curse Of The Django. For that and so much more, like the sheer scale of their song-scribing chops shown on straight ahead Billy bash by numbers Dead King's Rise and Sideburns & Switchblades which cruise past numerous paltry purveyors of supposed petrol-head psychotic rockin that all too often has a high filler factor and oil spill problems, or the sly steal of Radiohead's Creep on the desultorily comical waltz Since You've Been Gone this is a rare treat. A fuckin' exultantly excilliant one at that, I do exhort, exhaustlessly.
Stu Gibson
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