Alcatrazz – V

V Album Cover Art

Alcatrazz – V
Silver Lining Music
Release Date: 15/10/2021
Running Time: 62:32
Review by Chris Galea
10/10

A very quick recap of the rundown to this album…after an absence of almost 25 years Alcatrazz had returned in grand style in 2020 with the album “Born Innocent”. However, the buzz created by that album risked being wasted when founding member and lead singer Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Michael Schenker) left to pursue a solo career. Alcatrazz quickly recruited Doogie White (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker). On paper he was the ideal replacement for Bonnet but, as history sometimes tells us, the potential of a line-up doesn’t always give the expected results. Is that the case with this new Alcatrazz album?

Well, worry not…if “Born Innocent” was one of the best albums of 2020, then “V” manages to surpass it. The songwriting is impeccable and the music’s execution sharp and dramatic. Indeed for those, who like me, have a soft spot for neo-classical pomp, “V” should be a pure joy to listen to.

Several full-throttle moments enkindle the album…’Guardian Angel’ and ‘Turn Of The Wheel’ spring to mind. But like a Caravaggio masterpiece, there are various shades to the album. For instance, ‘Return To Nevermore’ is dominated by a Doomy riff and ‘Dark Day For My Soul’, one of my favourite tracks, is a sort of epic ballad with some amazing singing from Doogie. On the other hand, ‘House of Lies’ and ‘Alice’s Eyes’ are groovy songs while still steadily holding onto the neo-classical niche.

To my ears Doogie sounds slightly different from what he did with other bands, such as Tank or Rainbow, but his singing is still solid, powerful and melodic and fits with the music like a glove. And I loved Jimmy Waldo’s keyboards, particularly in ‘Grace Of God’ and ‘Dark Day For My Soul’.

Doogie White and shredmaster Joe Stump are responsible for writing most of the material on “V” and the band seems to have stumbled upon a solid songwriting team with these two. Comparisons with the solo music of Yngwie Malmsteen, while understandable, would give rise to a chicken and egg dilemma so best leave that alone and just enjoy the music we have here.

A number of guests drop by to make the album a more interesting proposition (details below) but really the material could have been just as worthy of one’s purchase with the five members of Alcatrazz alone.

I would say that the greatest quality of “V” is that it is perfectly balanced…all-round fantastic musicianship but never at the expense of the songs. An album clearly rooted in the classical heritage of Metal but that also feels modern. It is all I could have ever hoped for from Alcatrazz…and then some.

‘Grace of God’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Guardian Angel
02. Nightwatch
03. Sword Of Deliverance
04. Turn Of The Wheel
05. Blackheart
06. Grace Of God
07. Return To Nevermore
08. Target
09. Maybe Tomorrow
10. House Of Lies
11. Alice’s Eyes
12. Dark Day For My Soul

LINE-UP:
Doogie White – Vocals
Joe Stump – Guitars
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards
Gary Shea – Bass
Mark Benquechea – Drums

Guests:
Ronnie van Staven (Riot, S.A. Slayer) Bass on ‘Guardian Angel’, ‘Nightwatch’, ‘Target’
Nigel Glockler (Saxon) – Drums on ‘Guardian Angel’, ‘Blackheart’
Cliff Evans (Tank) – Guitar on ‘Grace of God’

LINKS:

Alcatrazz Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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