No quarter offered, none given.
Conflict and schism have been frequent companions to rock and metal bands since time immemorial, but such occasions often present new opportunities on both sides of the fissure. The peculiar case of Alcatrazz, one of the consequential bands of the early to mid 80s that would introduce the world to Neo-classical shred trailblazer Yngwie Malmsteen, is not without a sense of irony given that its resurgence right in the midst of the lockdowns that turned much of the world into a prison. Likewise, the subsequent split that would leave its founder and iconic front man Graham Bonnet on his own and his remaining band mates staking an additional claim to the outfit’s name has left the prospect of two versions of the same musical juggernaut. Though Bonnet’s version is still in the process of fielding their de facto debut outing, the remaining four and their recently acquired replacement singer have now unleashed a second post-split LP in “Take No Prisoners” that continues the revival of the 1983 “No Parole For Rock ‘N Roll” sound that first made Alcatrazz a household name.
In like fashion to their 2021 predecessor outing simply dubbed “V”, this second go around draws heavily from the band’s dual mystique of Rainbow influences meshed with the early 80s NWOBHM craze that was upping the older style’s aggression factor. Doogie White, who could be labeled “the replacement guy” given his past propensity for filling the shoes of various vocal titans via Rainbow, Malmsteen and Empire, continues to roar like a mighty lion after the spirit of Dio with a bit of a Mark Boals tinge, acting as the head of this mighty metallic golem. Axe-slinging virtuoso and Yngwie disciple Joe Stump continues to light up the fret board like it’s going out of style, though dialing back things where needed and often employing more of a Blackmore-like swagger to complement the flurries of rapid sweeps and scales. Newly acquired and former Blaze Bayley drummer Larry Paterson steps into his role seamlessly, laying down mid-paced grooves and fast-pace beats with the same flair of his predecessors, while this outfit’s new de facto co-leaders in bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo continue in their Deep Purple-like roles of filling the arrangement and showing occasional bits of flair.
For the most part, “Take No Prisoners” is an album that sticks to what works, merging the vintage Rainbow and Malmsteen elements of the band’s roots with a rawer, modernized edge that tends to mirror the previous two albums. The opening speed machine “Little Viper” lays out a frenetic riff set with numerous fits and starts courtesy of Stump, while Waldo’s rock organ work slips in a slight psychedelic twists into what is otherwise a consistent storm of metallic bluster. Sing-alone romp and rocking single “Don’t Get Mad…Get Even” leans back into more of an 80s fist-pumping anthem, complete with a guest gang vocal refrain with NWOBHM queens Girlschool, while the similarly mid-paced yet more mystical “Power In Numbers” sees Waldo’s organ work go full Jon Lord mode and rivals the prominence of Stump’s busy guitar work. Other standouts include cruising and infectious new classic of a self-titled banger “Alcatrazz”, a beautifully situated nod to Malmsteen’s brand of high octane power metal “Bring On The Rawk”, and a triumphant yet melancholy mini-epic slough loaded to the brim with brilliant guitar and keyboard work in “Gates Of Destiny”, though the song that really breaks from the pack and steals the show is the heavy-rocking beast “Holy Roller (Love’s Temple)”, essentially merging vintage Deep Purple magic with a pummeling metal attitude.
Though Bonnet’s version of Alcatrazz has yet to field an album, it is generally stipulated that the involvement of Jeff Loomis is said project will entail a more experimental approach to this band’s musical template, so it follows that those whom cleave to the classic sound that goes with this incarnation of the band will want to stick by it. Relative to the last two albums this one is an ever so slight step down, if only due to the combination of playing things a bit safer and that Graham’s highly distinctive vocal presence is still missed. For his part, Doogie White turns in the same highly bombastic and impassioned delivery that has made him one of the busier singers in the business for the past 30 years, but what’s going on around him mostly keeps things by the numbers. Nothing on here can be categorized as a slouch, and there is definitely something to be said for not messing with a winning formula, but even a faithful emulation will fall a tad short of the original, thought just a tad, mind you. Existing fans will not be disappointed, and newcomers are definitely encouraged to try out one of the free cells for an extended stay.
Release Date: May 19th, 2023
Genre: Heavy Metal
- Doogie White / Vocals
- Joe Stump / Guitars
- Jimmy Waldo / Keyboards
- Gary Shea / Bass
- Larry Paterson / Drums
“Take No Prisoners” track listing:
- Little Viper
- Don’t Get Mad…Get Even” (feat. Girlschool)
- Gates Of Destiny
- Holy Roller (Love’s Temple)
- Power In Numbers
- Salute The Colours
- Bring On The Rawk
Order “Take No Prisoners” HERE.
Continuing to channel the old-fashioned fire of the early days, Alcatrazz unleashes another blistering opus of shred-infused, guitar-driven fun, proving once more that there is always a newer voice to rise to the occasion