Alcatrazz – Take No Prisoners (Silver Lining Music)

Wednesday, 10th May 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

We only have so much time on this earth – so Los Angeles-born heavy metal veterans Alcatrazz strike while the creative embers fire on all cylinders, as Take No Prisoners is not only the group’s sixth studio record, but third since the summer of 2020. Due to management conflicts, Doogie White has taken over on vocals from Graham Bonnet – leaving bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo as original members still going strong. Rounding out the current lineup is axe maestro Joe Stump and drummer Larry Paterson, the latter working with Blaze Bayley and Rogue Male among others. Continually fueling the US/European influences across the classic hard rock/ heavy metal spectrum with supreme knowledge of strong melodies, hooks, and flashy, tantalizing musical breaks, expect ten more tracks that crystalize thoughts of Rainbow, Dio, and UFO among others.

When you have potent pipes around these musicians, it’s easy to create the right emotional resonance at any tempo or through varied, dynamic textures. Doogie is able to stretch his bluesy, Ronnie James Dio meets Ian Gillan-like delivery for an epic ballad like “Strangers”, then push the pedal to the floor on the driving opener “Little Viper”, Jimmy Waldo injecting his ivory touch early in the instrumental beginning through the key chorus sequence. The neoclassical syncopation between these musicians often appears in subtle ways – never overloading the listener as the main riffs swing enough lumber to captivate on initial impact. “Gates of Destiny” illustrates this point best, Joe Stump laying down some circular runs and gallop picking before his quick arpeggio sweeps dive in and out of the second half of the arrangement. Favorites change by the day – early Rainbow vibes make “Holy Roller (Love’s Temple)” a swinging mid-tempo winner, while the energetic closer “Bring On the Rawk” could be a singalong staple, the gang-oriented ‘rawk…bring on the rawk’ tailor made for those large summer festival gatherings globally.

This scribe chooses to look at the Graham Bonnet/Alcatrazz versus Alcatrazz angles only from an output perspective. As such, Take No Prisoners contains what long-time followers of this group desire – professionalism as well as proper songwriting that has all the right hooks, melodies, and musical intricacies desired for this style. The old-timers can still teach the current generation a thing (or two) about the art of releasing full-length albums that stand up well months to years down the line.

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