Doogie White just might be the hardest working man in heavy metal. Where isn't he these days? If he's not fronting for Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, LA PAZ or TANK, he's been found lurking in EMPIRE, PRAYING MANTIS, CORNERSTONE, RATA BLANCA and, of course, RAINBOW, amongst other music entities. This time, he's pitted alongside the upright troupe of DIO/BLACK SABBATH/HEAVEN & HELL drummer Vinny Appice, THIN LIZZY/WHITESNAKE bassist Marco Mendoza and seventeen-year-old Polish wunderkind Iggy Gwadera.
The collective is thus known as WHITE APPICE MENDOZA IGGY, or WAMI, as they've already been tagged across the web. Their debut offering "Kill the King" is a fun blast of power rock that easily sinks itself in. It's mainly aimed toward veteran rockers, not that any fan of well-structured electric ditties can't enjoy the ride. Considering the age and better, the guitar proficiency of young Iggy Gwadera, generation gaps are void.
The slow cooker "Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)" has a DIO feel to it with rolling tides, power riffs and Doogie White's soothing narration about Moses leading the chosen out of Egypt. It's a modest but well-crafted mini epic, though hardly indicative how "Kill the King" is going to play out the rest of the way. "The Rider" jumps tracks with a faster pace and a DOKKEN vibe, mostly felt in the huffing hard rock melody and peppy choruses, not that Doogie White sounds anything like Don Dokken. Iggy Gwadera rips a mighty fine solo on this number. There's another hint of DOKKEN along with AEROSMITH (one might even be tempted to bring THIN LIZZY to mind as well) chiming subtly through "Wild Woman (You Oughta Know) , which catches a nice strut and doesn't let it go.
The softie cut "Guardian of Your Heart" is delivered a hair too close in proximity to QUEENSRŸCHE's "Silent Lucidity", but at least WHITE APPICE MENDOZA IGGY dirty up the song's choruses instead of drifting through a full-on float. Iggy Gwadera later exhibits tremendous maturity with his gorgeous acoustic laces and psychedelic reverb spread through the album's stripped-down ballad, "I Don't Wanna Lose You".
"One More for Rock 'n Roll" is a pretty solid, mid-tempo anthem with Marco Mendoza's bass humming along to Vinny Appice's steady throb as the band testifies to being rock 'n roll believers. A corny epithet only if you've haven't been hearing this gospel issued as far back as DANNY AND THE JUNIORS. "Heart of Steel" once more taps into the old DOKKEN playbooks but toughens things up on the verses. With a nod to Doogie White's Scottish heritage, "The Resistance" hefts its chugging rhythms with bagpipes and White pounces on the opportunity to hoist the flag for his homeland. Iggy Gwadera assists the cause with a blaring solo.
It's nice that "Kill the King" is filled with straightforward rock numbers that are catchy and have their parts glued together professionally. The temptation with a super group is to let all stations go berserk in succession to show off their wares, but WHITE APPICE MENDOZA IGGY make a specialized quartet who (at least three, anyway) have been around the blocks. Graciously, the seniors are showing the way for their gifted prodigy in-tow.
The album sounds more reflective of these artists' contemporaries aside from their in-house affiliates, but it's a minor quibble. It's retro but hardly offensive, especially when you consider the chops and knowledge of theory Iggy Gwadera possesses. He's as much a headliner as anyone else in this group and this must be the thrill of a lifetime for him, regardless how far he goes from this point. God-honest songs are what WAMI seeks from one another and songs are what they deliver. "Kill the King" is entertaining if dialed back a bit at times. Nevertheless, "Young Blood" is so catchy you can't resist singing along to it. "Get Out of My Way" would've been that scream-along track that would've drawn detention back in the day, or at least a throwdown by the nearest jock with a ravenous appetite for metalheads. Ah, nostalgia…