White Wizzard’s “North American Assault” tour stormed into Atlanta, well, Marietta, on August 25th and with them were Pittsburg metalers Icarus Witch and North Carolina traditional metalheads Widow. Together, these three acts rounded out one of the most consistently great and fun touring metal shows that I have seen in quite a while. Each band brought their A-Game to the stage and put on an inspired, energetic and tight performance that exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. This was without a doubt a stellar metal show from almost start to finish. The crowd was a modest sized crowd but a very excited and receptive crowd that was all a buzz about seeing this stellar lineup.
First off, I really hate it when a show is advertised with a particular line up and start time only to arrive and find out that a local act has been tacked on as the show opener. While I don’t like it when this happens, there have been times where I heard a really great band that I had never heard of before. This was not one of those times. The show actually opened with local metal dudes Brazen Angel who did absolutely nothing for me. Their uber corny “southern” metal littered with redneck undertones did little to impress me. Add to the fire a singer waving a rebel flag and their bassist rocking out on a rebel flag custom bass and you have me planting my face directly in my palm. This is the best the Atlanta has to offer? Really? These clowns couldn’t get off the stage soon enough and after hearing their cover of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” (a song I despise as it is) just added extra stink to the crap.
Next up, Raleigh, NC based metalers Widow took the stage and right away I was blown away. Opening with “Take Hold of the Night” immediately caught my attention and had me happily surprised and impressed. I had seen Widow once before about three years ago in Raleigh opening for Paul DiAnno and I remember not liking them at all. These guys must’ve eaten their Wheaties or something because they delivered a solid performance of classic, NWOBHM inspired metal with lots of energy and spot on playing. “Lady Twilight” was a song that really stood out to me but it was “An American Werewolf in Raleigh” and “The Pleasure of Exorcism” that stood out as really memorable songs. Lead singer/bassist John E. Wooten has such a great presence and voice and the harmony vocals performed by drummer Peter Lemieux really took the songs to another level of kick ass. Guitarist Chris Bennett is an amazing guitarist but they should really keep him away from the microphone between songs. When the band was performing they were absolutely amazing to watch and hear but there seems to be a bit of awkwardness to their stage banter. It’s almost like nervous conversation as opposed to audience directed banter to pump us up and engage us. If these guys could just fine tune their stage banter and learn how to work a crowd between songs, Widow could really take their performance to a more professional level as opposed to sounding like a touring local band.
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Pittsburg, PA’s Icarus Witch, on the other hand, took the stage looking and performing like seasoned touring veterans. Opening their set with “The End” hit the crowd in the face with a healthy dose of classic inspired metal only to go right into my favorite song from the new album “(We Are) The New Revolution” which played out like an arena ready performance. New lead singer Christopher Shaner’s vocal performance was top notch and a huge improvement from that of former vocalist Matthew Bizilia. Shaner has really taken Icarus Witch into a whole new realm that seems to have energized the band and has them playing with even more hunger and energy than ever. Lead guitarist Quinn Lucas embodies everything that a metal guitarist should and watching this guy play is really an awesome thing to take in. My only little complaint about their performance was the use of a light box contraption that members of the band would take turns stepping on as a bright light shone under them. It was a great visual effect to photograph but in person it just looked a bit silly. While it wasn’t enough to detract from the overall performance, it was just something that they could’ve done without in my opinion as it just looked completely contrived. As a whole, Icarus Witch’s performance was a top notch show capped off by an absolutely facemelting performance of “Black Candles.” If the band had anything left in them they poured it all out completely on this song. The set was not complete though without end of tour hijnx in the form of White Wizzard decking their stage out with pictures of Justin Bieber, leg humping stuffed monkeys, and an inflatable sex doll with Justin Bieber’s face on it. The band took it in great stride as they laughed and still managed to deliver a flawless set closer.
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White Wizzard took the stage to a vocal and very appreciative crowd and without a warning slammed right into their new song “Torpedo of Truth” which completely melted my fucking face off. This is a great example of how seeing/hearing a song performed live can have a totally different impact on you than just hearing it at home. Who cares of he’s their 123rd singer (ok, actually 5th singer) but Joseph Michael really stepped into this band and completely wowed me and everyone else in the room. While looking more like he should be singing for LA Guns, Michael proved very much to be a metal singer possessing just as much passion and heart as he does range. He really knows how to work an audience and the chemistry between him and the rest of the band seemed to be genuine. “40 Deuces” was a great way to spotlight the guitar duo of Jake Dreyer and Will Wallner as they played off each other like they were there from the very beginning. White Wizzard was so full of energy and delivered a spot on, facemelting performance. It was like looking at a brand new band (literally and figuratively) as they tore through some really nice gems like “Out of Control” and the show highlight “Iron Goddess of Vengeance.” “Starchild” from the Flying Tigers album is a song that I never really liked but with some amazing guitar work from Dreyer and some jaw dropping vocals from Michael, this song really took on a whole new life. White Wizzard drew the night to a close with “Over The Top” and “High Speed GTO” which had the crowd going absolutely nuts. As the band tore thru “GTO”, Icarus Witch returned the prank favors by slamming paper plates of cool whip all over the guys in the band as they tried their hardest to hold it together. Much like Icarus Witch, the band played on with only guitarist Will Wallner losing power to his guitar. Instead of giving up, he ran over to Jake Dreyer and proceeded to finish out the song air guitaring as the crowd cheered him on. The band said their good-byes and headed out into the crowd to mingle with their fans.
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The North American Assault on Marietta, GA was a huge success and I didn’t see one person walking away without a smile on their face. Every band delivered a fantastic performance (except for Brazen Angel) for what I think was one of the best packaged metal tours I have seen in quite some time. Widow impressed me and will have me watching them very closely. Icarus Witch blew me away with their top notch, professional performance and White Wizzard owned the night and melted my face. As a fan of White Wizzard and a very vocally critical fan, I felt that this line-up was without a doubt the best I had seen to date. I really hope that they can keep it together and maybe even cut an album but as history has dictated, I do have my doubts. I can only hope to be proven wrong though.
Take Hold of the Night, Re-Animate Her, Lady Twilight, An American Werewolf in Raleigh, Nightlife, Embrace It, Angel Sin, The Pleasure of Exorcism
Icarus Witch Setlist:
The End, (We Are) The New Revolution, Rise, Tragedy, In the Dark, Out for Blood, Black Candles
White Wizzard Setlist:
Torpedo of Truth, 40 Deuces, Celestina, Out of Control, Starchild, Flying Tigers, Iron Goddess of Vengeance, Over The Top, High Speed GTO