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A sad ending for a once great band - 20%

prezuiwf, July 9th, 2007

Alcatrazz is known primarily for two reasons: Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. Each of these men played on one Alcatrazz release (No Parole From Rock And Roll and Disturbing The Peace, respectively) and then went on to become a mega-successful solo artist. But lightning rarely strikes twice, and when it does, it virtually never happens a third time. Enter Alcatrazz’s third attempt at a lightning bolt: Danny Johnson.

Ever heard of Danny Johnson? Most people haven’t, and there’s a reason for that: he isn’t very good. And while this band’s first two albums showcased their guitar players, this one chooses to focus more on keyboards and bass, keeping this player (who they must have known just wasn’t that good) off in the background. Banal tracks like “Undercover,” for example, go absolutely nowhere because Johnson’s ability is so limited that the band is relegated to inane 80’s pop territory led by Jimmy Waldo’s keyboards. “Blue Boar” starts off promisingly but, again, is unable to capitalize on potential because of the empty, poppy sound the band takes on.

The band’s vehicle only seems to go two speeds here: slow and slower. While past albums featured tracks like “Jet To Jet” and “God Blessed Video,” this one crawls along like a dying slug making no attempt to speed up whatsoever. The band seems relatively content going at a snail’s pace the entire time, but there is no energy whatsoever in this album, which makes it very difficult to listen to in one sitting. Whether the band was attempting to have commercial success or simply compensate for its new lack of talent is unclear, but either way it does not make for a very compelling album.

The bland production and weak songwriting really only give rise to two decent tracks, “Ohayo Tokyo,” and the title track, and even those are somewhat subpar—frustrating, in fact, because they could have been downright excellent if simply done correctly. The rest are essentially throwaways, and sad reminders of Alcatrazz’s forgotten past successes. The guitars are buried and the keyboards are not nearly enough to make this listenable. Graham Bonnet does sound as good as ever, but good singing can only take you so far when the songs you’re singing are inane. The rest of the band simply sounds tired and lethargic, and by the end of the album, it sounds as if Bonnet has joined them in their lethargy.

In short, this album is too hard to find for it to be worth seeking out. For the average metal fan, this album should be a nonentity, having more in common with 80s pop (and terrible 80s pop at that) than anything having to do with metal. Alcatrazz’s first two albums are representative of their true abilities, and it’s unfortunate that they made this one before mercifully breaking up for over 20 years.