I never really rated the last two albums by White Wizzard, they went into a shady inconsistent path for my tastes. This one I take with apprehension…and quickly discovered the band have turned my thoughts around.
The album sounds like it’s really two releases. The first few tracks are pure metal; the latter tracks are much longer in duration and include a multitude of influences. Soaring ballads, 70’s hard rock and prog, topped off with galloping guitar passages like those found on the closer ‘The Illusions Tears; which waits about 8 minutes to come to metal fruition. The opening track and title track, well, its pure metal, I can actually sing the verse and imagine the same guitar melody as Priest’s ‘Painkiller’ track and material from the debut Huntress album in the vocal stance, give it a go, see what you think. ‘Storm the Shores’ gallops into action whilst the beautiful vocal lines accompanying the guitar slinging sections of ‘Chasing Dragons’, quickly affirms in my opinion that this is the finest track of the release, certainly my favourite closely followed by the Maiden inspired ‘Critical Mass’.
‘Metamorphosis’ is a very accurate description of this song. It’s very different to the balls out metal approach and really shows some character; don’t be put off by the change of stance. Living with this release for some time has made my appreciation grow. ‘Cocoon’ is a track on the edge of genre’s but holds true to the bands main persona, much more than their revivalist approach of very early releases. I never really figured or noted any rip roaring guitar pieces on these two numbers, but the music and arrangement is quite invigorating and thought provoking. ‘Voyage of the Wolf Raiders’ is perhaps a touch too long in play out time, but still hits the right spots. With so many easy comparisons that could be had, the “epic” sections really flow from the classic US power metal scene of the 80’s, by way of time signature changes and the delivery. Thoughtful metal if you will.
Overall, this really should be two albums of material; there is definite split in the release. Both sections give different results, both positive, but this album really shows that White Wizzard has developed. Ok, ten years plus after their initial material surfaced, but it just shows you, a change is as good as a rest and the beast that did fall into complacency over the last couple of albums in my mind, have re-ignited the torch.
(7.5/10 Paul Maddison)