ALCATRAZZ-Born Innocent

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Review Date: August 2020
Released: 2020
Label: Silver Lining
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer:  JP

Man, I did not see this coming.  A few years ago when ‘they’ (the record label, publicists and whoever) announced that Alcatrazz was reforming, I was blown away.   I suppose in hindsight I could have seen it coming.  In fact, I’m usually on top of these things and the writing was on the wall. Bonnet has had a bit of a career resurgence especially with contributions to the Michael Schneker Fest.  I saw Bonnet live recently on a MSF tour and his pipes are indestructible.   It makes sense after that success and reception he would want to get back to his own vehicle instead of just being a hired gun and that vehicle is Alcatrazz. Also there have been a few box-sets issued as of late and a live in Japan album back in 2018 so all this activity finally led to what we all wanted, a new studio album.

If you are reading this you probably know who Alcatrazz is but in case not, it has been 34 years since their last album after all, Alcatrazz was an all-star band that burned brightly from 1983 to 1987 and burned out just before they had a chance to make the big-time MTV wave in the US.  They had three well-regarded albums that showcase some hotshot guitarist early in their careers namely Steve Vai land Yngwie J. Malmsteen.

The new album is called BORN INNOCENT and what is nice to see is that three of the five original guys (Bonnett, Shea, Waldo) are still in the band.  Relatively new to the scene is Mark Benquechea on drums.  So that brings us to the big question…who is guitarist #4?  Bonnet went with another big guy, Joe Stump. More on him later.

BORN INNOCENT is a generous album at almost an hour long and we get the classic logo and an album cover that pays tribute to the band name and the first album cover.  The album is surprisingly heavy with just the slight hint of modernity in terms of production values.   It crackles a bit and is perhaps the heaviest, fastest Alcatrazz album to date. I personally think it is great and it is not ‘modern’ enough to annoy the original fans like me.

Stump performs admirably, he doesn’t overplay.  I know that ‘overplay’ is an oxymoron in Metal but Stump’s solos are tasteful and suit the song and he never really opens up the throttle like he does on his dozen superb shredding solo albums. Bonnnet sings his heart out and the other guys hold down the fort (or jail) perfectly.

The songs are melodic, tunefully, fast and fun. BORN INNOCENT is such a welcome surprise and over time I would not be surprised if it becomes my favourite album in the catalogue. Alcatrazz 2.0 is open for business and they are not taking any prisoners.  I know that doesn’t make any sense at all but it sounds good.

Line Up:

Gary Shea-Bass
Jimmy Waldo-Keyboards
Graham Bonnet-Vocals
Mark Benquechea-Drums
Joe Stump-Guitar

1. Born Innocent
2. Polar Bear
3. Finn McCool
4. We Still Remember
5. London 1666
6. Dirty like the City
7. I Am the King
8. Something That I Am Missing
9. Paper Flags
10. The Wound Is Open
11. Body Beautiful
12. Warth Lane
13. For Tony