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Alcatrazz - V Award winner

Alcatrazz
V
by Kevin Lewis at 02 December 2021, 12:53 PM

ALCATRAZZ is Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band from Los Angeles, California, United States. Originally formed in the early 1980s, they’ve put out five great records and had numerous line ups. This iteration released their fifth album, appropriately title V on October 15th, 2021, via Silver Lining Music. V is 12 songs full of amazing guitar work, great melodies and rhythms and killer vocals.

The record starts with “Guardian Angel.” Five minutes of guitar fury and frenetic rhythms. This is the pace set early and it will continue throughout the entire disc. This is shredders delight from a guitar point of view. Joe Stump spends so much time flying along the neck of his guitar that he must have worn a groove in the fretboard. Jimmy Waldo on keys matches him note for note whenever he wants/needs to.

Dropping down to “Sword of Deliverance,” we have more guitar and keyboard interplay that just amazes. The background is where there is more magic. Mark Benquechea delivers stunning rhythm and tempo shifts on the drums, never losing track of where they all need to be and giving his cues with pinpoint accuracy. Gary Shea often hangs out with Mark, though he is not scared to run off and do his own thing, sometimes almost playing more like a rhythm guitar than a bass.

Not sure why, but “Grace of God” is where I really get the best of Doogie White. He seems to soar a little higher, drop a little deeper and belt a little harder than on some of the other songs. While the guitars and keys are still present, he takes some of their spotlight and really shows his chops. He hasn’t been hidden; this is just where he shines brighter. An added bonus in this song is the almost Jon Lord-like keyboard solo in the middle, just before the guitar solo. It’s catchy and a great listen. The groove of it really pops.

Return To Nevermore” has a very late 70s groove to it. This song could have been done by DEEP PURPLE or RAINBOW. The sound is very classic rock with a heavier tone. It has that darker tone and deep lyrics that really draw the listener in and tell them a tale. “House Of Lies” has a riff that reminds me of “Man on The Silver Mountain” at the front, making me really lean into the hearing as well as the listening. I was totally captivated by this guitar work.

The song that steals the show, for me, on this record is the last track, “Dark Day for My Soul.” Beginning with a piano and vocals alone, the intro is dark and haunted. Kicking into the main section of the song, the piano turns into keys and the guitar/bass come in heavy. The heavy, offset by the melodic, really drive song to a new level. It gives a complexity you haven’t heard yet, even through all the shredding.

Musically, this is a spectacular album. The vocals are clear and crisp, the bass and drums are solid. The guitars are stunning, and the keyboards are sublime. This is a band that can do what they want, when they want, how they want. The talent level is amazing and demonstrate this in every facet of the record. Fans of the early work will love this as well.

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
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
Lineup:
Doogie White – Vocals
Gary Shea – Bass
Mark Benquechea – Drums
Joe Stump – Guitar
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards
Record Label: Silver Lining Music
     


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