White Wizzard circa 2010 may be a complete fraud to some — if not for their ersatz appropriation of all things NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal, if you’re not by the computer), then for the fact that the entire band save bassist Jon Leon jumped ship after the recording of last year’s breakout High Speed GTO EP. Leon rounded up a new band of scabs for the recording of this album, which adheres so closely to the strict confines of early-’80s pre-thrash classic metal that it almost counts as a formalist exercise. But fuck it.
These metal Menudo-ers whump you with front-to-back catchy licks, gallivanting bass throbs, and piercing vocal shrieks. Just as it takes a charlatan’s sleight of hand to put a thousand ’80s metal unknowns in a blender, spew the result on your audience, and pretend that it’s blood, perhaps it takes a crew of formalist pros to spit out such classic-on-first-listen gems as “White Wizzard” and “Out of Control.” Essentially a statement of purpose against the twin bogeymen of late-’80s thrash and mopy ’90s grunge, Over the Top is both a generous heaping of fretboard-tapping castrato rock and a vendetta against those who seek to remove the sheer fun from metal.