ALCATRAZZ – “V”
By Colonel Angus
Shakespeare once wrote “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Now you may be asking why I would reference this quote but I feel it makes sense within the context of this new ALCATRAZZ record. I have been concerned with how I might approach this release because I always felt that Graham Bonnet’s vocals would always be a constant in ALCATRAZZ. I felt it was his band and it was a vehicle for his talents much like MSG and RAINBOW were vehicles for Michaels Schenker’s and Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar wizardry. Last year’s “Born Innocent” was a great addition to the ALCATRAZZ catalogue and being that it was well received by fans and critics alike, I figured another round of similar tunes was in order. Unfortunately, there were some disagreements behind the scenes and Bonnet was out. I don’t tend to care too much about band politics as I feel that the music is what matters and ultimately, that is the legacy left behind.
For those of you keeping score on band members, the album consists of the same line-up as “Born Innocent” except for Bonnet being replaced by Doogie White. I have been a fan of White even since he put in a great performance on “Stranger in Us All”. His performances on subsequent disks with MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK and FEST, TANK, and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN are all brilliant and he adds a different element into each of those bands. Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea are the only two original members who are joined by Joe Stump and Mark Benquechea who recorded the last disk. Safe to say, this is one solid and tight unit that delivers on the level we would expect from these seasoned veterans. My biggest concern would be that I wouldn’t be able to get past Bonnet’s vocals being absent but after multiple spins, I don’t really miss them. I focused on the songs and performances and all are great; plus the guys have added power metal influences to the mix making this the heaviest ALCATRAZZ album.
Kicking off with “Guardian Angel” and “Nightwatch” really hammers home that this is a new version of the band. White’s vocals coupled with the power metal and neo-classical elements are a match made in heaven. For those fans who crave the older sound, don’t fret because they are still ALCATRAZZ so material like “Turn of the Wheel”, “Maybe Tomorrow”, and “Sword of Deliverance” will satisfy those cravings. The latter hosting the catchiest chorus on the whole disk which says a lot since the whole record is filled with memorable choruses and melodies. Elsewhere we are treated to the RAINBOW-ish “Return to Nevermore”, a ballad-y tunes “Dark Days For My Soul”, and a really heavy tune in “Alice’s Eyes”. Overall, the whole record brings together a number of different metal styles in one cohesive release with all the songs being worthy of multiple spins. No matter what you may think of the vocal switch, there is no denying that this is one great album. And getting back to the Shakespeare quote, does it really matter what the band calls themselves because with music this good, you’re in for a treat no matter the name.