Rating 8 of 10
There have always been three certainties with White Wizzard, Jon Leon is present with his vision, Jon is going to surround himself with some kick-ass musicians, and their album is going to have some great music on it. When I was guesting on the Talking Metal podcast, and Mark Strigl asked me about releases I was looking forward to hearing in 2018, I was completely caught off guard and brain farted on the spot, as this is an album I have been looking forward to since Jon told me he had been working with James J. LaRue again. You throw Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson into the mix, and it’s kind of an all-star team, mixing the vocalist that has appeared most on their albums, and one talented as hell guitarist, who should be bigger, much more recognized than he actually is. James is a player that if he were picked to play with a band like Megadeth, it honestly would not surprise me given just how good his playing is.
On to the album, Infernal Overdrive has some great material that fits in nicely with the rest of the band’s catalog, it also has spots that are completely new to the band, yet slot in great with their body of work. It is by far the most progressive album released by the band, and it also takes more chances than any other album from the band’s past. As evident in a track like “Critical Mass”, it definitely seems like Jon and LaRue have worked really well taking the music to another level. I also think this is the first time that you can really hear a mix between Jon’s love for Steve Harris and Geddy Lee, it is very prevalent in the first track, which also happens to be the title track. Not that it hasn’t been present in the past, just that it’s perfectly combined on the track. The single “Storm The Shores” is absolutely great, one of the best tracks ever released by the band.
Both Wyatt and LaRue have really helped elevate the album, as mentioned above, Jon really knows how to surround himself with great players, and it definitely shows on this release. Wyatt is on par with what you’d expect to hear from him, and LaRue is (pardon the pun) Over The Top with his playing. When you think you’re hearing something influenced by Adrian Smith or Dave Murray, he’ll flip you on your ear with his soloing, kicking things into an extra gear and giving you something you’d expect to hear from Marty Friedman. Jon has also brought in a lot of things to his playing that he hasn’t in the past, for the first time he seems to have really taken an approach to do what is best for his material, whether that means infusing other things out of the WW norm, like an Arabic feel on a track like “Metamorphosis”, or as Dimebag Darrell would put it, that “sour note” you hear on “Critical Mass”, or flat out crafting songs like “The Illusion’s Tear”, that sound nothing like the rest of the band’s catalog.
If you were ever into the band, Night Demon, Enforcer, or any other band draws from the same influences, this should be one of your first purchases of 2018.
Stand Out Tracks: “Infernal Overdrive”, “Storm The Shores”, “Pretty May”, “Critical Mass”, “Cocoon”