ALCATRAZZ – Born Innocent

ALCATRAZZ - Born Innocent
  • 4.5/10
    ALCATRAZZ - Born Innocent - 4.5/10


Silver Lining Music
Release date: July 31, 2020

User Review
7/10 (1 vote)

At one point or another, English-American metallers Alcatrazz have counted  Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai amongst their ranks. This post-hiatus line-up is less well-endowed with ‘name players’, but it doesn’t seem to have forced the band in a different direction. For here amongst the glossy 21st century production, is tech-metal prised from an 80s time-capsule.

It’s the type of thing that gum-chewing teenagers might have listened to as they arranged their mullets ahead of a night out on the strip. Big solos flavoured with arpeggios and harmonic minor scales.  Histrionic vocals aping the squeezed-ball highs of vintage Gillan. Frankly ludicrous subject matter that only lonely school kids and old rockers think is cool. It’s all here, watermarked with the neon stamp of 80s approval.

The problem is that TARDIS-tunes only go anywhere if the songs are either spell-bindingly good or have something new to say. This album, alas, meets neither criteria. It’s not for want of trying:  Graham Bonnet and co. have recruited the likes of Steve Vai and Japanese shredder Nozomu Wakai to help out. But despite the credentials of the supporting cast, there’s just not enough here to warrant the big name reputation.

Opener “Born Innocent” could just as well have been the victim of Emperor Joseph’s criticisms as Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio or Harem”. Notes rain down while Bonnet wails away in strictly functional fashion. Irish-influenced stomp “Finn McCool” follows a similar template. The epic reach of the band’s influences only surfaces by the time “I Am The King” rocks round. Here at least there’s a held-back melody and guitar soloing that occasionally lingers on a note long enough to project some meaning.

The pick of the rest of the tracks is probably “Warth Lane”, a piece of mid-tempo sludge that features Mellotron-esque strings and some pleasingly-lyrical guitar. As for the rest, the buffet of retreads and shredfests are liable to cause aural indigestion if listened to in one sitting.


  • Dan Whittle

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been a music fan since his mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 5. That she introduced him is no real guide to whether he could play it, "as anyone who had the misfortune to hear my hamfisted plonking would readily testify," says Dan. Abandoning his nascent career as a pianist, he turned, instead, to listening to as many albums as he could lay his hands on. The first, halting steps, were of the novelty record variety; but gradually he found his niche. After a brief, abortive flirtation with indie, he heard Clutching at Straws by Marillion and that was it. These days his tastes are on the catholic side, but whiling away a few hours listening to ambitious guitar music (especially of the progressive variety) is still amongst his favorite activities.   Oh, and if anyone's wondering, he did learn the piano and the guitar in the end...

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1 Comment

  1. I couldn’t disagree more with the reviewer. Perhaps they’ve only read about the 80s metal scene because if you were a fan of Alcatrazz back in the day you certainly weren’t chewing bubblegum and wearing a mullet. Alcatrazz is a band that has it’s own flavor and style, and expecting them to change their stripes is something that fans do not want. Graham Bonnet has always written these kinds of songs, so belittling fans by saying it’s only for lonely teenagers and old people is not really doing the album or Alcatrazz fans justice.

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