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Fucking Cool - 98%

Rhapsorizon, March 6th, 2008

I have always been a fan of Graham Bonnet, from his efforts here in Alcatrazz - until their demise (and their resurrection) - right through to his effort in Impellitteri's amazing "Stand in Line", and then to his effort in Japan's heavy metal set of gods, Anthem, and But it's stuff like this, in the early 80s with this ensemble of overlords, Alcatrazz, that really gets my motor running. No innuendo intended.

I have grown a lot out of traditional/80's metal as of late, as I've been moving on into Folk/Viking and a little Progressive/Death metal, but it is ESPECIALLY albums like these - by bands like these - that really help me reflect on the better things about the 80's. The 80's did see a fuck load of good music, with the ratio of awesome music to gay music generously in our favour, but along with Whitesnake's 80's material, Heaven's Gate, Judas Priest and the great "Power Metal" album by Pantera (probably the only good thing they ever did), Alcatrazz brought the world some fucking fan-TAS-tic music out of the 80's.

This album brings more neo-classicism to the table, eliminates any and all cock-rock elements, and keeps the lyrical content as appropriate and original as possible. It has a pretty high amount of balladic compositions, mastered mostly by that oh-so-infamous Yngwie Malmsteen, and spiced melodically and vocally (with a brilliant aura) by the wonderful and awesome Graham Bonnet.

Anyway...It's always amusing to see the seemingly narrow-headed approach to keyboards and synths in this style of music. Even though Alcatrazz managed to escape the one-two-three-four, run-of-the-mill 80's sound that seemed to infect the "original content" in that era, they still were trapped by the lack of different sound effects and keyboard effects that we are lucky enough to not be hindered by these days. But seeing as this sort of adds to the traditional element of it, (and preserves the musical time capsule, which in turn really keeps those simple times alive) it is just fucking cool, really. And this is especially evident in this album.

In regards to the drums, there is obviously yet another evident divorce from the seemingly (at the time) inescapable, default sound that seemed to enslave all chance of revolutionary music existing. The percussion hammers through this album nicely, accentuating the bass in its pre-destined style, and behaving perfectly as the backbone to the best parts of 80s metal.

Yngwie plays the guitar hard and he plays it fast. Most people recognise Yngwie as a total dick, and I have to agree, but damn that crazy Swede can play. The much-needed role of Yngwie in this orgy of Neo-Classical metal and orgasmic vocals, is fulfilled in its entirety. Bringing a sort of modern-day Vivaldi into the picture, Yngwie wields a large variety of musical abilities ranging from blisteringly-fast solos and leads, to slow, tasteful yet intricate solos to the ballads. It is sad that he left Alcatrazz so early (even though he was replaced by an even more insane genius, Steve Vai), but it was destined to be. I don't exactly know why he left, I'll have to look it up after I'm done with this, but I imagine he got fired for being a dick. But like I say, he's one of the many hard reasons that you need to have this album.

On with the vocals:
I-Fucking-Love-Graham-Bonnet. I'm not gay or anything, but if his voice alone was a person, I would be down on my knees sucking its balls. Graham MAY first appear on this record as a low-to-mid ranged vocalist, with his rough voice being quite tenor-like, but no. He is one of those kinds of assholes that can go from extreme lows to extreme highs with almost no effort at all. Unfortunately his true vocal versatility is not expressed in it's entirety on this record. No. It's, sadly, more so on their masterpiece, "Disturbing the Peace", but nonetheless, there is very little lost in the integral basis of this gem. Graham truly is a vocal expert, and seems to be one of the few to be hindered by age or withering...Much like David Coverdale...*grin*

Production-wise, this album wasn't given as MUCH justice as it deserves, but I didn't include this in the points system, as it didn't really seem like a very important factor in comparison to the immense load of musical integrity and perfectly-executed performance.

On the scales, this album is a winner against the earth. If you're a fan of the traditional/80s heavy metal/heavy rock stuff, this is perfect for you. Please, dear fucking Christ, do yourself a favour and get this album. Or else...