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Octane Gypsy, You're My Rock And Roll Machine - 90%

CHAIRTHROWER, January 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Earache Records (Enhanced)

The late 00s/early 10s were a landmark time for the so-called new wave of traditional heavy metal; you had bands like Cauldron, Enforcer, Monument, Midnight Malice, Skull Fist and Holy Grail tearing it up with their respective LP's and demos while at the forefront of the movement was Los Angeles' White Wizzard, who turned out some highly potent cuts on both their Earache released 2009 EP, High Speed GTO, and 2010 full-length debut, Over The Top, which duly established the quartet as a force to be reckoned with. The EP, however, set the table for future auspices with its highly memorable, gripping chops and endearing melodies/vocal lines in the form of seven stellar tracks averaging oh-so convenient and congenial lengths of 3.5 minutes, ranging from a ridiculously catchy and innocuous gem in "High Speed GTO" proper to a veritably Holy Grail-ish closer in "Red Desert Skies".

The production isn't as rich or refined as on Over The Top, opting instead for a slipshod kind of 80s sound which in no way detracts from the fantastic musicianship on display. The guitar riffs, harmonies and solos are shimmering and clear whilst the bass lines audibly and plumply resonate, permitting each track to retain it's very own nifty undertow while at times brazenly rising to the forefront, such as on the triplet based, slightly Egyptian sounding "March of the Skeletons", which, might I add features a super duper fist-pumping, drum heavy bridge and feral solo section readily displaying James J. LaRue and founder Jon Leon's mighty fine, sophisticated leads (Leon also assumes bass duties). Additionally, comparisons to the band's evolution can be compared to Metallica and Megadeth's i.e. the same way Kill Em' All - for the most part written by Dave Mustaine before he was so unceremoniously ejected - sounds so much like eventual (1980s) Megadeth albums, High Speed GTO is very reminiscent of, or rather, a precursor to fellow golden state trad metal pioneer Holy Grail, as it's features future Grail drummer Tyler Meahl and front man John Paul Luna, whose loose, somewhat romanticizing vocals are so prevalent on tracks like the ballsy and swinging pseudo metal ballad "Celestina" and overt highway cruiser "Octane Gypsy". (Granted, Meahl's beats and Luna's vocals are much more rampant and raw on future endeavors once they teamed up with Huntress's fiery shredder Eli Santana).

Back to the matter at hand, the opening title track is simply too good thanks to its mellifluous (and minor) dual guitar harmony, juggling bass line, cataleptic drumming and notably downright killer breakdown riff at 0:39, which I just can't enough of, and beguiling sing-along chorus:

"Soarin' in a High Speed GTO
Holdin' onto what I used to know
Rollin' like a madman down the road
Wishin' you were here like once before!"

The bass dominated bridge two minutes in yields a spectacular solo section which leaves me reeling every time. I dare say it's on par with later WW class acts such as "40 deuces" and "High Roller", as well as Monument's freewheeling "Fatal Attack" or insanely melodic "Carry On", from its 2014 full-length debut, Renegades, which I also can't recommend enough to the heavy metal traditionalist "en herbe". That said, the lead playing on High Speed GTO is swift, sonorous and suave, be it at the inception of the chromatic riff and turbo charged, at times wistful by way of a fluid and watery guitar progression, "Into The Night" or further Holy Grail dead-ringer "Megalodon".

As much as I dig the Wizzard's newfound front man Wyatt "Screaming Demon" Anderson, I keep circling back to High Speed GTO (both track and album) as I've a fond affinity for Luna's poignant inflections and ribald laisser-faire, not to mention the EP's kick-ass instrumentation. Along these lines, it's really unfortunate how much White Wizzard has suffered due to internal strife but if it's latest, Infernal Overdrive - officially released on Friday - is any indication, things are finally back on the up and up for the metal surfing Californians. Despite what gainsayers may imply, the spell cast by this EP and Over The Top will forever remain unbroken.

High Speed Fail O - 59%

ralfikk123, April 23rd, 2011

This is the debut release by White Wizzard, a band that is loved by many and hated by just as many people. I discovered White Wizzard when they released their second album in 2010 which I really enjoyed and listened to many times. I wanted to check out this EP in order to see if the original line up was just as good or if they plainly sucked. A single entitled "High Speed GTO" was released to promote the album and give you a taste of what the band is about. Having listened to it quite a few times it grew on me and I found myself listening to it a lot. Since it was so good I though that the album was worth getting so I spent my well earned money and waited for it to come through the mail. What I received was a big disappointment that I regret spending 12 bucks on.


Let me first point out that I'm not very fond of the singer. I do like the idea that he has clean vocals and does some wailing but he sounds really bland. He reminds me of some random singer from an alternative rock band that sings about his love for some girl. He has no kick or aggressiveness in his voice and that's what bothers me the most. There are no growls, no falsettos, and not even any sustained high notes. He doesn't have any qualities of a very powerful vocalist that would make him stand out of the crowd. The entire album sounds exactly the same with most of the riffs being very boring and bland. Songs like "Octane Gypsy" and "Red Desert Skies" have very annoying guitar work that make you wanna pierce your eyes out. There are some tracks such as "March of the Skeletons" which are good on the first listen but then get stale. This song in particular has boring guitar riffs that seem like they are played by an eight year old who has been playing the guitar for a week. The entire album is a poor effort at trying to sound just like Iron Maiden.


As much as I like this band and want to like this release, I just can't. Overall this is a pretty disappointing album that I won't be coming back to anytime soon. Most of the songs are very boring that sound the same and I feel like this album was rushed and put out way too early. It's like baking a cake, taking it out of the oven 20 minutes earlier and eating it while thinking 'this fucking blows'. I also don't think the singer did the best he could and I do smell some half assery on his part. The only good song off of this album is "High Speed GTO" and I really do not recommend spending money on this album unless you're paying less then 5 bucks for it.

-Ralf

It's like eating tasty metal riffs. Out of my ass. - 52%

RapeTheDead, February 1st, 2011

White Wizzard are one of the most popular bands in this new explosion of retro-metal bands -one of the top tier bands in this new "rebirth", and fittingly enough they're a pretty good representative of the trad metal bands forming today, though that's not necessarily a compliment. This whole "rebirth" of trad metal that seems to be going on these days has relatively equal amounts of praise and hatred, and I'm not quite sure what side of the fence I'm on yet. On the one hand, most of these bands can crank out some damn fine rockin' ditties- on the other hand, so can all the classic metal bands from the 80's and they do it with a little more flair, class and testosterone and I'd much rather listen to that instead. These new bands do a pretty good job of replicating the classic sound, but they never go anywhere with it- never really expand on it and are perfectly content with sounding "old school" and never end up creating something truly great. They simply rock out, when really they should ROCK OUT WITH THEIR COCK OUT, y'know?

The songs on High Speed GTO sound incredibly plain. There's no intricacy, no subtlety, no depth- What you see is what you get. It wouldn't be as bad if the up-front, prominent features of the album were composed well enough to carry the song on their own, but they aren't. I'm certainly not one to judge the technical abilities of the guitarists, as I don't play the instrument myself- but it doesn't take a genius to see that these riffs and leads are painfully simple and rehashed. A lot of them sound more like they should be the part of the music that provides a backbone or harmony to the lead rather than actually BEING the lead. Even the occasional time they DO pull a somewhat intricate lead out of their ass, it's something you've heard tens of times before dozens of years ago. It's not like it sounds bad or anything, but where's the flavor? Where are the fresh, tasty guitar melodies that are supposed to suck me in, spit me out and keep me coming back for more? That's the whole goddamn reason I listen to traditional heavy metal in the first place, so cater to my needs you fucking morons! It's not just enough to SOUND the part; you have to actually embrace the characteristics of the genre that make it a worthwhile one to listen to!

So, if a metal record is musically superficial and simple, what must it rely on in order to have redeeming value? BALLS. Countless metal bands, even in the traditional metal realm, have made some really stagnant and boring music and made it sound like the best thing to ever happen to man since some ugly cave chick looked at an ugly erect caveman dick and thought to herself "I wonder what that tastes like". Unfortunately, much to my dismay, this album is severely lacking in the testosterone department as well. For one thing, for a self-released EP, High Speed GTO has been produced cleaner than a virgin's snatch- the guitars lack any bite that would make them considerably "ballsy", and the vocals are layered like a motherfucker- which only makes us more aware of the fact that these vocals are, well, pretty gay. James-Paul Luna's got a nice, easily digestible voice, and he's certainly giving it his all, but he lacks the rough edges and gnarly, abrasive tone that's almost mandatory for this style of music. He's pretty much the main hook of the band though, seeing as he sings some pretty damn catchy vocal lines- unfortunately, due to the (lack of) quality in his voice, I only end up listening to this album again because I feel like I HAVE to, not because I WANT to; these songs always end up getting stuck in my head and the only way to get them out is to play the EP again.

I've been giving this EP quite a bit of slander in this review, but truth is I really didn't mind it- but only because it's so damned inoffensive and basic and that could almost be counted as a flaw in and of itself. High Speed GTO is stupid simple trad metal for the stupid simple trad metal kids who are latching onto this "movement"; nothing much more to it. This is so light and fluffy it almost reminds me of pop-punk at times (particularly during that first verse of "Into the Night") which is pretty much a warning sign that I should stay the fuck away. When you get right down to it, White Wizzard is basically just a band who was in the right place at the right time that got WAY more famous than they should have, because their music isn't really any more deserving of your attention (maybe even less so) than any other 'eavy metal band out there, new or old. Give 'er a spin if you're still intrigued about the band, but chances are you'll listen to it a lot at first because of its sickening catchiness, then get really annoyed of it- and really, didn't we start listening to metal in the first place to get AWAY from albums that had that kind of effect on you?

Heavy Metal Lives Again! - 90%

SpyreWorks, November 6th, 2009

With their explosive debut mini-album/EP, White Wizzard have struck a serious note in the hearts of many metalheads. Playing a traditional melodic metal style influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, High Speed GTO is a much-needed and welcome break from all the dark, brutal and satanic metal that dominates the metal scene.

Musically, High Speed GTO isn't that ground-breaking; it isn't overly fast, "brutal" or epic. However, it is an achievement in that it's fun and loud, the former being something that many bands these days tend to forget to include. The drumming is pretty standard, but the guitar and bass are played surprisingly well. My only gripe with the music is that the singer's voice sounds a wee bit childish and 'mainstream", but besides that there is really no issue with the music. The album has some pretty good riffs and themes (Yes, prehistoric sharks and cars ARE actually awesome) and the music video for "High Speed GTO" is comic and cheesy, but appreciable.

In conclusion, High Speed GTO is a must-have for any big fan of classic metal bands (especially Iron Maiden), as these are the band's biggest influences and the album reflects that very well, with melodic tunes, singing vocals and skilled drumming and bass. I'm glad that a band has finally had the integrity to break away from the "dark" metal trend and start playing old-school fun metal again, and the band truly do have a pure heavy metal spirit. Also, I have to add that the cover art is pretty clever, depicting the front torso of a White Wizzard fan, and the band's name and title shown in button pins. Heavy metal lives again!