Friday, October 7, 2011

White Wizzard - Flying Tigers

White Wizzard, also known as the more traditional half of Holy Grail (who were initially called Sorcerer), are die-hard-in-denim:

They refuse to acknowledge that any time has passed (musically speaking, anyway) since, say, 1985. They wear tons of band patches proudly. They won't detune.

I admire that. I admire their taking a stand.

Unfortunately, it's also their major problem. It appears their muse is both very demanding and very narrow-minded.

Short version of Flying Tigers (sweet cover, though, huh?)-- the first half is a bad Hanoi Rocks/ Y&T cover band; the second a great Iron Maiden cover band. First half of album-- southern California cock-rock, mid-80s-ish; second half, NWOBHM, same time period. The second half is noticeably better and more natural and self-assured.

Look, don't get me wrong-- you can do "traditional" metal well without doing anything new with it. Witness: In Solitude, Ghost, Devil et al.. White Wizzard just never make it there for long.


"Starchild" is a stilted power ballad (remember those?) that never quite gets off the ground; the title track is very Maiden-- lyrically and melodically it's a tribute to/reframing of "Aces High," (and vocalist Wyatt Anderson does actually keep up with Bruce Dickinson), but it doesn't have the same sense of tension and release that any good song does (particularly anything on Powerslave).

Lyrically, a lot of mentioning of the devil, going crazy, etc.

Power metal, traditional metal, whatever, lives and dies by its hooks (something extreme would do well to learn), and overall Flying Tigers falls short, hook-wise. To me the best White Wizzard song is still "High Speed GTO."

White Wizzard are best when they're just rocking out, Maiden/Priest style, and tracks like "Night Stalker," though generic, work this well. "Fall of Atlantis" with its opening middle-eastern-sounding riff, also rocks out unselfconsciously, sounding like, of all bands, CJSS.

"Demons and Diamonds" is lushly evocative and hints at what this band could really do if they just let loose and composed whatever came into their hands.

It seems like the problem with Flying Tigers, and with White Wizzard in general, is that they're so eager to be the perfect replica of an early-80s metal band, they force every track to sound like that, even when it feels like the riffs don't want to fit-- they contort them into the format. It seems like if they'd just play whatever they feel and stop pushing it through the King Kobra-strainer they'd make a hell of an album-- there's a lot of obvious talent here.

It's fun stuff. It won't change your world if you're over 13, but it's cool stuff, a throwback to a time where vocals reigned supreme (and perhaps should've?). It's got its flaws, but it's still definitely worth checking out if you've a soft spot for classic traditional metal.


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