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Alcatrazz: V

No Graham Bonnet? No problem...

While most of us thought the prospect of Alcatrazz without legendary lead singer Graham Bonnet would simply not be Alcatrazz, after the singer left the band over creative and/or management issues (depending on what you read and who you believe) the band did in fact decide to carry on, enlisting Graham's friend in Michael Schenker Group, Doogie White, to take over the lead vocal slot alongside founding members Gary Shea (bass), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards), drummer Mark Benquechea, and neo-classical guitar shredder Joe Stump for their latest release, V.

With a band that has had somewhat of a revolving door policy, at least on the guitarist slot (Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Danny Johnson, Joey Taffola, among others holding the spot previously), this should really come as no surprise, but Alcatrazz have cranked out a genuinely strong album here, despite the absence of their iconic lead singer. White, himself a well traveled veteran with spells with Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, Demon, Tank, and others, is in fine form here, his unique vocal style soaring over the top of memorable hard rockers such as "Sword of Deliverance", "Guardian Angel", and the heavy rocking "Blackheart". Alcatrazz were always good at delivering hook laden hard rock songs with a wealth of guitar artistry, and that trend continues here thanks to Stump, who puts on a clinic throughout the album with plenty of blazing solos and crunchy power riffage. "Turn of the Wheel" is a fast paced, near speed metal/neo-classical rager, White delivering a dramatic vocal over some pummeling rhythms and Stumps expert fretwork. "Return to Nevermore" has a gothic, doomy, almost Dio-era Rainbow era feel to it that is absolutely thrilling, and a song that I don't think Bonnet would have tackled had he still been in the band. Waldo's nimble synths fly and dart around Stump's guitar on the prog-metal track "Target", and "Maybe Tomorrow" is another moody heavy rocker, littered with Hammond organ and epic riffs, classic Rainbow again coming to mind, as well as Deep Purple. Perhaps the most old school sounding Alcatrazz track is "House of Lies", tossed with Down to Earth/Difficult to Cure era Rainbow, complete with a great hook, crunchy riffs & keys, and potent drum's the easy can't miss anthem on the album.

Twelve tracks in total and just over an hour, V is way better than expected, and whether you feel that this outfit should or shouldn't be calling themselves Alcatrazz without Bonnet, the fact of the matter is that this is a great collection of songs regardless of the band name. Word is that Graham will be heading his own version of Alcatrazz (with Jeff Loomis presumably on guitar), with an album in the works for release in 2022. Though the comparisons will begin as to which is the rightful Alcatrazz, for now, V is well worth a listen, and one of 2021's surprises.

Track Listing
1. Guardian Angel
2. Nightwatch
3. Sword Of Deliverance
4. Turn Of The Wheel
5. Blackheart
6. Grace Of God
7. Return To Nevermore
8. Target
9. Maybe Tomorrow
10. House Of Lies
11. Alice’s Eyes
12. Dark Day For My Soul

Added: December 4th 2021
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 632
Language: english

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