by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Columnist –
These days, artistic collaborations between well-known musicians are nothing rare and the number of star-studded projects spring up like mushrooms. Still, WAMI is a unique formation for many reasons – the whole idea for this project was started by Marco Mendoza (of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders, formerly of Whitesnake) two years ago. Performing in Poland, Thin Lizzy was supported at that time by the heavy metal act Anti Tank Nun – and, as it seems, the extraordinary talent of the support act’s guitarist, Iggy Gwadera, left Mendoza enchanted.
The idea for musical collaboration between the two followed and soon it evolved into a full (and yes, star-studded) project, involving Mendoza and Gwadera as well as Doogie White (Rainbow, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen) on vocals and Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Dio) on drums.
To make a perfect heavy metal fairy tale out of it, it should be added that the impressive Gwadera is only 16 now, the fact that can really restore one’s faith in the late ‘90s “generation Z” as they call it. Of course, the fairy tale wouldn’t be complete without the input of the Fairy Godmother(s), or, in this case, the producers’ team. Here we go as follows: Jarek ‘Chilek’ Chilkiewicz (a well-known Polish guitar player) as well as the album’s composers Wojtek and Piotr Cugowski (the two talented sons of Polish classic rock legend Krzysztof Cugowski who followed their father’s footsteps artistically). The result of this multi-dimensional collaboration, an album Kill The King, is soon to be released via Metal Mind Productions.
Enough of the background – let the music do the talking. WAMI’s first release is perfect balance between hard rock versus heavy metal, classic roots versus contemporary sound, aggressiveness versus melody. “Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)” is the album’s opener driven with the slow, lumbering, Sabbath-esque riff and followed by the dynamic track “The Rider,” featuring the dazzling guitar gallop. Some blues rock overtones are to be distinguished in “Wild Woman (You Oughta Know),” a feisty and groovy hard rock piece (think early Whitesnake). The fourth track is the absolute highlight – the ballad “Guardian of Your Heart” is where Doogie White shares lead vocals with the above Piotr Cugowski. A result of their collaboration behind the microphone is the brilliant, emotionally laden performance, and the surprisingly perfect match of these two voices brings the song to a whole new level.
The next song is a bit self-introductory, as White sings “we are rock’n’roll believers” in his raspy but powerful voice; it’s “One More For Rock’n’Roll,” another track in vein of Sabbath trademark style with psychedelic flavors. Its follow-up “Heart Of Steel” is a groovy but melodic hard rock piece, driven by quite modern riff. The mellow intro to “The Resistance” is only seconds before the track evolves into a heavy metal killer, with muscular gun-machine riffs and feisty, aggressive vocals – but at the same time, still melodic. Interestingly enough, this song’s outro is an obvious reference to White’s Scottish heritage – check it out and you’ll have it loud and clear.
In a powerful, upbeat mid-tempo “Young Blood” stellar vocal harmonies complement the melody, in a contrast with “Get Out Of My Way” which develops into a fast-paced, dynamic hard rock track with the aggressive dialogue between the lead and backing vocals. The next to last is “Transition,” a track which is pretty heavy and straight-in-your-face, but at the same time melodic and which precedes the final “I Don’t Wanna Lose You,” a soaring acoustic ballad with cello part played by the guest musician Dorota Wozniak-Mocarska.
Kill The King, above all, proves one undisputed fact – this international, intergenerational hard rock WAMI project really works. And even more, the sensational artistic collaboration between a group of talented Polish musicians and the three hard rock legends would be seriously unappreciated if referred to only as a curio in Appice’s or White’s vast discographies. It’s so because of many reasons – not only the predictable quality of the performance by the legendary musicians of Rainbow, Dio or Whitesnake fame, but also well-crafted compositions penned by the creative duo of Cugowski brothers. The true scene stealer is, however, the guitarist Iggy Gwadera – being not even old enough to vote and still, capable of meeting such a challenge. His talent and prowess, surprising at such young age, really shines through the entire album, and it’s almost certain we’ll hear about this gifted young man in the future – perhaps mentioned again alongside big names of the music industry. Let’s also hope Kill The King won’t be the last album under the WAMI moniker – although with the bar set so high with the first one, it’ll be hard to top it. Much recommended.
Genre: Hard Rock
Doogie White – lead vocals
Vinny Appice – drums
Marco Mendoza – bass
Iggy Gwadera – lead guitar
Jarek ‘Chilek’ Chilkiewicz – additional electric & acoustic guitars
Wojtek Cugowski – additional electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10)
Piotr Cugowski – guest lead vocals (track 4), backing vocals (tracks 4, 5, 8, 9, 11), additional acoustic guitar (track 11)
Darek Switala – backing vocals (track 5)
Tomasz Golab – bass (track 5)
Szymek Synowka – drums (track 9)
Marek Trojanowicz – all keyboards
Dorota Wozniak-Mocarska – cello (track 11)
Eliza Cugowska, Krystyna Cugowska & Ewa Chilkiewicz – backing vocals (‘The Shouting Wives Choir’, track 5)
1. Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)
2. The Rider
3. Wild Woman (You Oughta Know)
4. Guardian Of Your Heart
5. One More For Rock’n’Roll
6. Heart Of Steel
7. The Resistance
8. Young Blood
9. Get Out Of My Way
11. I Don’t Wanna Lose You
Label: Metal Mind Productions
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10