The past few years has seen many revisionist metal bands pop up. For thrash there are bands like Evile, Havok, Warbringer etc. It’s not just thrash that has been influenced by the good old days though, bands in the traditional heavy metal sense have sprung up as well. For older guys like me it’s a pretty cool trend as we’ve seen shifts in the metal landscape that drifted more to the growls or symphonic areas not to mention the aggravating ‘core’ genres so it’s nice to be able to go back to the elements of music that made us become fans so many years ago. Enter bands like Holy Grail and White Wizzard. I mention these two not just because this will be a review of White Wizzard’s latest album ‘Flying Tigers’ but the two bands are closely intertwined as Holy Grail features former members of White Wizzard. Here is where it gets frustrating for me though. Even with the upheaval that resulted in the fracturing of White Wizzard into a great band like Holy Grail and what seems to be a constant rebuild process with vocalist Wyatt Anderson leaving and then coming back only to leave again it’s difficult to want to get into a band knowing that a live setting or subsequent albums may feature a different lineup. But all I can do is review this album on it’s own merit without any of this other crap going on and pass on my impressions to you.
So with that said let’s talk about ‘Flying Tigers’. This album will take you back to many different genres of hard rock and metal. The influences by bands like Maiden and Priest are apparent as well as bands like Y&T and Dokken. The album starts very strong for the first four tracks with the opener ‘Fight to the Death’ probably being my favorite song. Great riff, upbeat and catchy. By the time you get to the ballad ‘Starchild’ you should be pretty caught up in what these guys do if you do like old school heavy metal. From there on out though the album kind of tails off into songs that I can probably call filler. In the old days an album was judged by how many filler songs were on it and if you were listening to one that had 3 or less tracks that were then you had a keeper. With Flying Tigers there are a total of 12 tracks with about 6 of them being average fare.
I believe this stems from the fact that the band tries too hard to cover all of the stereotypical subject matter that heavy metal bands in the 80’s tried to cover. There is an ode to L.A. and Tokyo much like the hair bands would do and songs about Demons and Atlantis like Iron Maiden would cover. And they try to fuse these two styles and while it works sometimes other times it doesn’t. One track is an instrumental affair called ‘Dark Alien Overture’ which if you were to stand it up to Maiden’s Losfer Words or Dokken’s Mr. Scary probably wouldn’t be as memorable but this could be partly due to the fact that it almost has a djenty prog feel to it which makes it an unusual track on the rest of the album.
Musically the band is pretty competent. Jon Leon is a good bassist and the arrangements are done pretty well. It really is too bad that Wyatt can’t seem to work out as a vocalist because he does have a distinct but at the same time familiar vocal style. He has the mid to higher range that doesn’t grate on the ears. chances are you might like songs I didn’t like as much and vice versa but overall Flying Tigers is a great throwback album. Now if they can just stabilize the lineup and get someone at least as competent as Wyatt has been then White Wizzard might be able to actually garner the respect they started to get a few years ago. They deserve it.
My score 6 sins out of 10.
Enjoy the ballad track Starchild by these guys.