Heavy Metal Band White Spirit Brought a Heep of Purple To NWOBHM
by: Jody Haskins for The Laguna Spectator
Heavy Metal band White Spirit was spawned out of the The New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The NWOBHM was one of the most prolific and creative eras for heavy metal music and White Spirit is indisputable evidence of that creativity. The remaining hard rock and heavy metal bands from the sixties and seventies were either imploding or becoming derivative corporate entities without any soul or real emotion left in their music. To make matters worse, the best of the legendary hard rock acts were in tatters. Black Sabbath and Ozzy split up quickly followed by the untimely deaths of John Bonham and Keith Moon effectively killing Led Zeppelin and The Who almost simultaneously.
Most of what remained were a bunch of rich old lame boozers and cocaine heads. They couldn’t help but to be boring to the younger generation of head bangers and heavy metal fans. Out of this era of bloated corporate rock was spawned a double shot of ear shattering torture was unleashed from hell upon the unsuspecting masses in the forms of Punk Rock and Disco. Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, they did.
It seemed there was no hope for head banging heavy metal hard rock. Then something amazing happened. A young, rebellious and tough breed of rock and roll musicians emerged in England. The New Wave of Heavy Metal was born and it seemed as if rock and roll was saved for a little while.
White Spirit was one such heavy metal band. Formed in 1975 and hailing from Hartlepool, England, White Spirit were one of the many “new” heavy metal groups establishing themselves as challengers to the rock and roll throne. White Spirit featured guitarist Janick Gers, who has since played with Ian Gillan, Bruce Dickinson and Iron Maiden (since 1990). So while the album and the other members of White Spirit have long been forgotten, one vital element from this band continues to rock and roll into the future with Iron Maiden.
White Spirit’s hard rock debut album stood out as an anomaly within the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. While still clearly influenced by heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath, their primary influences were the more progressive classic rock bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. For example, ‘Midnight Chaser’ is similar in sound and style to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’. Other tracks on this album such as ‘Way of the Kings’ and ‘Don’t Be Fooled’ were much more in line with the NWOBHM sound of the time.
White Spirit’s full-length classic rock album is a showcase of keyboard and guitar driven heavy classic rock. This album serves as a bridge between the classic metal sounds of Uriah Heep and Deep Purple and the new wave of thrash and speed metal that emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
This is a strong album with a heavy bluesy metal feel and a crunchy groove. The album is highlighted by Gers’ guitar mastery, which at times is very reminiscent of Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore. The most unique aspect of this lost classic of the NWOBHM genre is the extensive use of keyboards which were very out of fashion at the time of its release. The keyboard playing is more Uriah Heep than Deep Purple in style and sound.
‘Get it Right’ with its keyboard solo and powerful feel is a NWOBHM classic. The opening features acoustic guitar and ends with a bone crushing heavy metal riff . This album features superb production with a crunchy clean sound.
The heavy track ‘Way of the Kings’ is another high point due in no small part to the heavy and effective Black Sabbath like guitar riffs.
White Spirit are an excellent NWOBHM act with unparalleled uniqueness and a powerful sound. Janick Gers brings top notch metal playing throughout this album and conveys especially strong emotion on tracks such as ‘Way of the Kings’ and ‘No Reprieve’. White Spirit has been compared to both harder edged classic rock acts and heavy metal bands of the early to mid seventies. The emphasis placed on being melodic as well as the liberal use of Jon Lord style keyboards are what really set this release apart. Don’t sell this heavy metal band short until you check them out for yourself. Give it a try and let me know what you think?