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Review: Alcatrazz - V

Label: Silver Lining Music
Year released: 2021
Duration: 1:02:19
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: November 16, 2021
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating

Rated 2.83/5 (56.67%) (6 Votes)

V is the fifth album from L.A.'s Alcatrazz, a band that started out in the '80s as a vehicle for former Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet and featured a then relatively unknown Swedish guitarist named Yngwie Malmsteen. Malmsteen would leave after the band's debut, No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll, in 1983 but Bonnet and crew would release two more albums before putting the band on hold until the 2000s and releasing Born Innocent in 2020. V sees well-traveled singer Doogie White replacing Bonnet alongside original members Gary Shea (bass) and Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) plus drummer Mark Benquechea and talented guitarist in his own right, Joe Stump.

I remember No Parole... being an average hard rock/heavy metal release with a West Coast vibe. The song "Island in the Sun" was clearly aimed at garnering some radio airplay (it didn't) with a palatable melody and catch chorus surrounding Malmsteen's neoclassical lead work. The rest of the album didn't leave much of an impression on me other than Graham Bonnet moving from Rainbow to Alcatrazz didn't change the fact I didn't, and still don't, like his voice. V has some of the same characteristics of earlier Alcatrazz releases but also embraces some other styles resulting in a nicely varied experience. Out of the gate, we have "Guardian Angel" which speeds along, riding a double-kick power metal bullet train to kick off the album. "Turn of the Wheel" makes me think back to Yngwie's early albums with their solid if unspectacular songwriting serving as a foundation for some flashy fret work (Stump has nailed Malmsteen's solo style). "Return to Nevermore" does the Middle Eastern, "Stargazer" routine, "House of Lies" is a blues-based, Sunset Strip track and "Dark Day for My Soul" brings in sad piano melodies which wouldn't be out of place on an Avantasia album. Everything is played well; Waldo and Shea have been at this far too long to put out something that sounds like crap and Stump's guitar work is a feast for the fan of neoclassical wizardry. I don't care for White's vocals any more than Bonnet's, so for me the singing is a wash.

I like V for its refusal to be one thing, not just simply a bluesy hard rock album nor an all-out power metal album and it is better than how I remember No Parole... Most of the songs are good for what the band is attempting, even if some aren't that great so it is well worth a listen if melodic metal is your thing.

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