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Originally best known for being the band that bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Vinny Appice joined following their first departure from Dio, WWIII has always been a fairly interesting band in spite of an obscure status and the release of only one album in 1990. Now reunited in the new millennium by vocalist Mandy Lion and featuring an entirely new band line-up, it is safe to say that this is a completely different group than the original in terms of both themes and the actual music.
While most of the songs on WWIII's debut album leaned towards a classic/glam metal combination, the band's sophomore effort seems to go for a more modern approach overall. The downtuned guitars seem to take on an almost groove metal approach and a few industrial flourishes manage to pop up every now and then, though they're not as prominent as on the remixes that were put on as bonus tracks. The lyrics have also gone through a great deal of change, going from the sex obsessions on the debut to more socially conscious themes dealing with war and injustice.
In fact, the roaring vocals of Mandy Lion seem to be the only thing that hasn't changed over the years. Always providing plenty of growling snarls and raspy wails (Even on the album's ballad "The Garden of Stone"), he gives the band a unique edge in spite of being something of an acquired taste. And I'm not so sure if he's as influential as some claim him to be...
In spite of (or perhaps because of) the changes that have occured over the years, the songs themselves did manage to show off some variety. You've got triumphant marches ("Rise," "Walk With Me," and "Fighting for the Earth"), slower groove-based tracks ("The Last Days of the Empire of Ignorance" and "Let the Flesh Rule the Mind"), a few more laid back rockers ("The Hard Way," "Reason"), a few dramatic numbers ("The Garden of Stone," "When God Turned Away"), and a borderline thrasher towards the end of the album ("Kill the Lord of this World"). I find it interesting how they slipped in a cover of Warrior's "Fighting for the Earth" as the guitarist from that band plays on here. I can't rightly say how it compares to the original version, but it is an album highlight.
All in all, this is a pretty solid album that shows an interesting evolution and plenty of songs worth checking out. What can only wonder what the next effort will sound like...
1) Several new elements keep the band's sound interesting
2) The songwriting is solid and accessible
3) Great variety of songs
1) Some may find the style changes to be unfitting
2) While the vocals give the band a unique edge, they are an acquired taste.
My Current Favorites:
"Rise," "Walk With Me," "Fighting for the Earth," "The Garden of Stone," and "Reason"
I've never heard the first WWIII record, and I am happily unaware of Mandy Lion's other interferences to the music industry. I don't mind the dark sound of the album or, as far as I know, any of the persons involved.
My problem is spelled Repetition. I really hate it when bands try the absolutely easiest way. Maybe I am asking for too much, but there's virtually no need to repeat yourself before you've started writing a new song. The drum beat shifts rarely, and only marginally. Except for Kill the Lord of This World all songs roll by slowly.
Also, most songs have the same dark, muddy guitar sound, and there's not much variation to the riffing or soloing either. This is probably the reason for taking in the cover, which is an improvement both drum- and guitarwise.
To me does all this come across as a rather uninspired attempt of making music, and it only leads me to think of WWIII as another songbird’s enlarge-my-ego-project. This is emphasized by the vocals being high in the mix. Dio does this all right, but the dear Mr. Lion just doesn't. He delivers rather sick proto-growls, which are interesting and impressive. For one song.
He does so on every song though, and don't you think his range lessens the repetitive feeling this album provides. In fact even the lyrics are repetitious. The few times when the choruses stretches over more than one sentence, well then is the second strophe only a copy of the first.
Now enough horseshit has been thrown. This album has a soul too, a dark, depressed and angry soul that lyrics, vocals and production help to establish. Sadly it's condensed into Let the Flesh Rule the World as no other song really tickles my pickle. The remixes are particularly bad.
When we last caught up with Mandy Lion he was making a guest appearance on George Lynch’s "Sacred Groove" disc & from there he went on to do a project with Jake E. Lee, which never went anywhere. I was a casual fan of WWIII’s last disc which was issued in 1990. If you’re lucky you can pick that up in the used racks for a reasonable price. Mandy has reformed WWIII with an entire new line-up & has been kind enough to bring us "When God Turned Away." To say that this record is a dark would be an understatement, even with the grim theme of the record, Mandy manages to keep the listener glued to the stereo. Heavy gritty riffs, super sonic drums & pounding bass guitar. There's also some industrial elemenst with a modern metal twist to it. Lion has grown as a songwriter & hasn’t lost any of his vocal ability since the last time I heard him. The band sounds tight, so I doubt that this is a half effort to rekindle what once was. The production on this record is equal to one of a band that probably had 10 times the budget. Sledge provides enough boom to keep you groovin’ all the way through. Rush out & buy this record, you will not be disappointed. I think it’s superb. I hope we won’t have to wait 13 years for another record.