This week, we dig up a record that probably doesn’t have the same recognition factor as either of those albums. White Spirit’s self-titled debut gets its day in the sun in the continuing look at a period of metal that could have its own column for all the lost treasure that have been buried.
The only way White Spirit would be known to fans outside the NWOBHM circle is because of guitarist Janick Gers, who has been one of the guitarists for the legendary Iron Maiden since 1990. White Spirit was one of his first projects, before he went on to play with both Ian Gillan and Bruce Dickinson’s respective solo bands.
White Spirit is a sped-up take on Deep Purple and Rainbow. The keyboards illuminate the mood of the album, and like those two bands mentioned, are one of the integral pieces to White Spirit’s sound. Keyboardist Malcolm Pearson’s role throughout this eponymous debut includes giving off a progressive vibe on “Fool For The Gods” and trading harmony leads with Gers on “Red Skies.” Pearson’s work appears to be influenced by musicians like Jon Lord, Tony Carey, and Don Airey.
Though there is a proficient use of keys on the album, this is still invested in the NWOBHM style. The riffs are a metal-injected take on punk music, and the solos from Gers have no self-control. Even early in his career, it should be apparent to any listener that Gers had what it took to make himself a household name in metal. Those curious to check out his high points should gaze at his mind-blowing solo seven minutes into “Fool For The Gods” and his soulful turn on the closing section of “Way Of The Kings.”
“Midnight Chaser” is the type of opener that is two-faced; on one hand, it’s a great representation of what White Spirit is, but it’s also an albatross that haunts the rest of the album. The reason for that is that everything the band does on that song - the Dio-esque vocals, guitar/keyboard solos, and simplistic lyrics - is repeated six more times with few deviations. Even the song lengths all hover around five minutes, save for the doubled-length “Fool For The Gods.” The band is good enough to make it not seem repetitive, but the album doesn’t hold up as well as masterpieces like Machine Head and Rising.
There were many NWOBHM bands that used session keyboardists on their studio albums, whether as cheesy filler or a one-shot deal on a random tune. White Spirit had an official member handling the keyboards, and this trait made the band a standout presence in the movement. They didn’t go far, but that wasn’t due to their music. For giving the NWOBHM era an updated taste of some early ‘70s hard rock/metal, White Spirit gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.