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Rise Up! - 85%

Twisted_Psychology, June 17th, 2009

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...

Pros:
1) Several new elements keep the band's sound interesting
2) The songwriting is solid and accessible
3) Great variety of songs

Cons:
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"