"High Speed G.T.O."


01. High Speed G.T.O.
02. Celestina
03. Into the Night
04. March of the Skeletons
05. Megalodon
06. Octane Gypsy
07. Red Desert Skies

RATING: 7.5/10

So was it the album cover that tipped you off that WHITE WIZZARD is comprised of NWOBHM devotees? The IRON MAIDEN-style lettering of the song titles on the back cover? The band members' photos perhaps? If you pine for the golden age of heavy metal, then "High Speed G.T.O." is your ticket. This is melodic heavy metal played with denim 'n leather spirit.

Owing just as much of a debt to lesser known, but just as relevant, bands that made melody a primary ingredient, such as TYGERS OF PAN TANG and DIAMOND HEAD, as to giants like IRON MAIDEN (especially those bass lines), WHITE WIZZARD opts for light over darkness. The sugary sweet vocals of James Paul Luna have a lot to do with said luminescence and the choruses benefit because of it. In fact, it was the title track that jumped out at me on Earache's "Heavy Metal Killers" compilation because of its gigantic hook, as well as an opening lick that recalls SAXON's "And the Band Played On". Fortunately, it is not the only track with a chorus that sticks to the ribs and classic axe swinging that puts the "electric" in electric guitar. Moving on, "Celestina" has a bouncier verse and a swing on the chorus that is reminiscent of the earliest DEF LEPPARD material (as in "On the Through the Night"). The vintage soloing and robust riffs heard from James Larue on every track are kicked into overdrive on "Into the Night", which features a nifty light-picking-to-riff-based verse and a peppy chorus. But it is "March of the Skeletons" that rivals the title track for biggest hook, if only because of the way it hangs on to you like a leech long after you've left the room. On top of all that, the tune actually comes off like a mixture of early IRON MAIDEN, DIO, and DOKKEN.

Value is added the rest of the way, as "Megalodon", "Octane Gypsy", and the very MAIDEN-like "Red Desert Skies" (it's those harmonies!) are rather strapping numbers as well. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the impressive bass lines of Jon Leon; his fingers flat-out fly, giving a measure of distinction to the album. Twenty seven minutes is a little on the short side for this type of "full-length" release (though a video for the title track is also included), so it will be telling to hear what WHITE WIZZARD can do with 35-40 minutes of traditional heavy metal. For the time being though, "High Speed G.T.O." is what the group has to offer and it is guaranteed to float a lot boats.


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