Album review: ALCATRAZZ – V

Silver Lining Music [Release date: 15.10.21]

Now that Doogie White and Joe Stump are onboard, Alcatrazz have abandoned all that wimpy rock stuff, and mainlined themselves into the world of heavy metal, on this, their second album with Silver Lining. Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo are holding fast, and drummer Mark Benquechea has joined. Bonnet has departed to create a new band.

This new lineup is bristling with talent and glowing with experience.

V turns out to be an old fashioned, full on, balls to the wall heavy metal album.

In reality it belongs to Stump (aided and abetted by White). He can shred with the best, but unselfishly adds distinctive, hi-speed colouring to every track. His guitar accelerates from zero to hero in a heartbeat, and does so at every opportunity, with everyone else hanging on for dear life, as the songs blast through hairpin bends and blind turns at neck snapping speed.

Throughout the album, Stump uses his guitar like a targetted weapon, guiding it through each song’s muscular rhythms, locking on to each explosive chorus. ‘House Of Lies’, ‘Target’ and ‘Turn Of The Wheel’ are laced with his razor sharp axework, with White’s heat treated vocals providing the slender, wiry melodies with the steeliest of spines.

The call and response vocals on standouts, ‘Guardian Angel’ and ‘Nightwatch’ are an extravagantly theatrical technique, a high wire act, at which the band proves adept at deploying. It’s traditional fare updated for operatic metal fans.

The pace drops slightly on top track, ‘Sword Of Deliverance’, but the obligatory pounding stomp gets turned up to heavier and harder. It’s constructed on Waldo’s and Shea’s shuddering keyboard/bass riff, with Stump and White reminding us of the Deep Purple and Rainbow connections.

The sheer pace and professionalism in the music’s execution is sometimes breathtaking, It’s clearly instilled with the confidence and maturity of a team of musicians who’ve been round the block a few times, and don’t need no satnav to find their direction home. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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