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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Alcatrazz

The Ultimate Fortress Rock Set

Review by G. W. Hill

This is  a massive box set from Alcatrazz. The band was essential Graham Bonnet's vehicle after his time in Rainbow. This album includes five CDs and a DVD. The first four CDs are the four albums previously released by the band, but they all have bonus tracks added to them. The final CD is a live CD with a show from Alcatrazz and one from the Graham Bonnet band. This would be a great way to start your Alcatrazz collection. Even if you have all the albums, it's worth having. I should note that I've reviewed all the individual discs, and those reviews are taken from the original reviews here, but new bonus tracks and such have been added. If I have done an original review, the overall review is included with the CD title. There is also a DVD here with two live concerts. That's quite cool, too. All in all, this is an exceptional set.
Track by Track Review
Disc 1: No Parole from Rock and Roll
This act not only featured Graham Bonnet on vocals, but also Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar It’s cool to hear this new reissue. The CD includes the full album followed by instrumental renditions of all the songs. I have not done track reviews on the instrumental versions because there are basically the same tunes. This lands in the neighborhood of both Malmsteen’s solo stuff and Rainbow along with some Deep Purple and more. It’s good stuff start to finish.

This includes the entire album and then bonus tracks of instrumental recordings of the whole album. Since the songs are essentially the same the second time through, just without the vocals, I’ve only done track reviews of the main album.
Island in the Sun
Progressive rock, hair metal and more merge on this opening cut. The vocals are pretty raw in their rock sound. In a lot of ways this really does feel like a cross between Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo stuff.
General Hospital
This is more pure metal. It’s also a real screaming hot number. I like this one much better than the opener. Everything works better here. There is a bit of Queen element on the bridge.
Jet to Jet
This fast paced rocker makes me think of Deep Purple in a lot of ways. I suppose Rainbow is a valid reference, too. This is less metal and more proggy, too.
Hirosima Mon Amour
One of my favorite cuts here, this is a smoking hot hard rocker. I love the vocals on the cut. Then again, I love just about everything about this one. It’s again a bit like Deep Purple. I love the balance between the rocking and mellower stuff.
Kree Nakoorie
After a cool proggy introduction, some keyboard sounds that make me think of the music to a horror movie join. The cut works out from there in some classically tinged metal. This is a powerhouse stomper as works out. It’s another of my favorites. The instrumental section mid-track here is very much progressive rock.
Incubus
Less than a minute and a half in length, this instrumental is very much metallic progressive rock. It is quite neo-classical in texture, too.
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live
More of a pure metal song, this is solid. The instrumental section brings some real neoclassically tinged progressive rock. This is a good change and a strong piece by itself.
Big Foot
This kind of technical metal is very much an influence on modern epic power metal. This has some great vocal moments in a unique arrangement. Of course, the instrumental work really stands tall, too.
Starcarr Lane
Here is another with more of a straight ahead hard rocking sound. I like this one a lot.
Suffer Me
This is more of a slow, blues styled cut. It’s metal and killer rock all at once. It’s one of the strongest cuts here. That makes it an excellent closer.
Disc 2: Live Sentence
Recorded live in 1984, this includes both the CD and a DVD of this concert and a shorter bonus show. The video quality is quite good for the time period. The audio is perhaps not quite as impeccable, but still good enough. This band was known at the time for Graham Bonnett (who had previously been the lead singer in Rainbow for a while) as he was the person with the greatest name recognition. The thing is, with a guitarist like Yngwie Malmsteen, these guys were probably destined to be something even bigger. This is more or less metal, but there is a lot of AOR sound here along with some technical elements.
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live
After a cool introductory bit they launch out into screaming hot metal. This is fast paced, technical and solid.
Hiroshima Mon Amour
More of a mainstream rocker, this still has some definite metal in the mix.
Night Games
Another mainstream rocker styled cut, this thing works really well. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not the most metallic or technical thing here, but Malmsteen gets to show off a bit.
Big Foot
This is a screaming hot scorching tune. It’s mainstream, but also metallic for sure. The instrumental section gets quite technical, too.
Island in the Sun
No big surprises here, we get more of the same on this rocking number.
Kree Nakoorie
Somehow this one is just more effective to me. It’s a great rocker with some exceptional musical moments. It just seems to gel particularly well. It ends with a Malmsteen solo.
Coming Bach
After a short break in the solo, this comes in as a continuation. It’s a powerhouse instrumental with lots of classical elements at play. It works to some rather crazed space music at the end.
Since You Been Gone
A song that Bonnett did with Rainbow, this is a classy jam. It’s the most mainstream thing on show here, though.
Suffer Me
This is a dramatic and powerful balladic piece. It’s quite evocative. It’s a power ballad, but a ballad.
Desert Song
Melodic mainstream metal, this is another screamer.
Evil Eye
Classically inspired jamming, this is a tasty number. It’s a screaming hot technical metal instrumental.
Guitar Crash
This is a proggy, trippy kind of instrumental jam.
All Night Long
Another Rainbow song, this is a mainstream rocker. It’s a lot of fun. There is a singalong included on this. I’m not a big fan of those things on live albums, but this one is pretty good.
Lost in Hollywood
Here’s another mainstream rocker. There aren’t any big changes, but it works well.
Kojo No Tsuki
There’s a real old time rock and roll vibe to this stomper.
Something Else
This isn’t a huge change, but another effective tune.
Disc 3 Disturbing the Peace
This band might have been a Graham Bonnet vehicle, but he sure had a way of lining up some great guitarists. Their original axeman was Yngwie Malmsteen. He's replaced here by none other than Steve Vai. I think this might be their best studio release. It just has such a cool sound, at times leaning toward progressive rock, even.
God Blessed Video
This is such a cool piece of music. It's very much set in a 1980s metal sound, but it's also got an almost prog rock vibe to it. I love the sound of Vai's guitar here.
Mercy
Here is another seriously classy heavy metal tune. I love the tone of this. There is a soaring element to the vocal arrangement that's great, too. this is less 80s in sound in a lot of ways. That's because it's more timeless than that.
Will You Be Home Tonight
This isn't a metal song at all. Instead it's more of an 80s rocker. There is a bit of a blues rock edge to the cut. It has some proggy things in it, too. Bonnet really shines on the harder rocking stuff later. I'm not crazy about the first half the cut, but the later sections really work well.
Wire and Wood
Now we're back into heavy metal territory. This is screaming hot. It's rather on the raw side. There are no pretenses here. This is just scorching hot, take no prisoners rock and roll. The guitar solo, though, really brings it into a completely higher level. The melodic break down section is a nice change, too.
Desert Diamond
This is more of an epic piece. it comes in with a mellower, dramatic metal ballad approach. It grows out as the song continues, really pounding forward. This is a powerhouse tune. It's another with a good helping of progressive rock built into it. The guitar solo section on this one is purely amazing, too.
Stripper
More straight-ahead hard rocker, this one is screaming hot. It's very Krokus-like to me. It's another great tune.
Painted Lover
There is almost a hint of funk in the mix here. This has some cool proggy edges, too. Yet it's also set pretty well in an 80s metal sound.
Lighter Shade of Green
This 46 second guitar solo is so classy. It's very technical and yet grooves.
Sons and Lovers
More of a straightahead hard rock sound is the basis of this number. It's a cool no-frills kind of thing. It's more of an anthemic power ballad, really.
Skyfire
Epic metal, progressive rock and more merge here. This is very much a long the lines of power metal, too. It's another killer tune.
Breaking the Heart of the City
This is rather anthemic. It's very much a power metal kind of thing. It's arrangement is rather stripped back in a lot of ways. Yet there is  rather proggy edge to it, too. The guitar solo section gets quite intense.
Bonus Tracks
                         

Will You Be Home Tonight (Anti-Drunk Driving PSA Single Edit)

There is a little spoken bit at the start here delivering the anti-drunk driving message.

Instrumental Demos
God Blessed Video
As advertised, this is an instrumental demo of the song from the main album. I really like this version. Steve Vai really gets to shine.
Wire and Wood

I'm not as crazy about this instrumental only version. The keyboards seem a bit too high in the mix to me.

Stripper
This is another that doesn't work all that well in this format. I do like the bass fills, though. It's just a bit too simplistic to really shine without the vocals.
Painted Lover
Another that's not all that great in this format, this is better than the previous one, though.
Sons and Lovers
Now, this one is much more effective in this instrumental only arrangement.
Skyfire
This one could almost stand on its own. It could use a bit more added to it, but works reasonably well like this.
Breaking the Heart of the City
I love the guitar work on this. The rest of the arrangement isn't nearly as successful.
Tomorrow's Outlook Featuring Graham Bonnet on Vocals
         

Glass Mountain

This screamer is more of a technical metal track that really rocks.

Red Rum
Another metal scorcher, this feels a lot like Iron Maiden really.
Alcatrazz Interview from 1983
The set closes with a nearly twenty minute interview.
Disc 4 - Dangerous Games

This studio album is a strong mainstream rocker. In addition there is a short live set as bonus tracks. The sound on those live numbers is pretty weak. Of course, it says that it's a previously unreleased audience recording, so that makes sense. Still, it is a bonus. The album proper makes it more than worth having. The rest is just the icing on the cake.

It's My Life
This cover of the Animals takes on a cool raunch and roll metal sound. It's quite hot. It's a big change from the style of the original version. It works quite well in this format.
Undercover
I dig this cut quite a bit. It's definitely built on a Rainbow styled rock and roll sound, but there are 80s metal elements, too. While 80s metal gets a bad rap (often deserved) there are things to be said for some of the genre. I like the vocal arrangement on this, but it could be perceived as a little overproduced at times.
That Ain't Nothin'
Straight forward metallic hard rock is the order of business here. This is a catchy tune that's quite effective.
No Imagination
Now, this feels more like the hard rock 80s metal sounds of bands like Quiet Riot and Poison. It's catchy, but not one of my favorites here. Still, it has some meat on the bones.
Ohayo Tokyo
This is in the same line as the last one in some ways. There are elements here, though, of more modern power metal. Some of the keyboard sounds and  the general mix feels a bit dated, but this song still works pretty well. The guitar soloing on this is technical and yet very passionate.
Dangerous Games
A rather anthemic cut, this is set in some great epic metal meets classic rock territory. It's a catchy tune that works really well.
Blue Boar
Melodic hard rock more in line with Rainbow, this is a classy tune. It's also a nice bit of variety. I dig the tasteful guitar solo on this.
Only One Woman
Here's a cover of  song written by the Brothers Gibb. This is sort of a power ballad.
The Witchwood
Here's another that lands in the power ballad vein. It's a cool tune, but would perhaps have done better separated from the previous number. I really like the vocal arrangement on this tuen.
Double Man
A killer metal stomper, this is catchy and meaty at the same time. It rocks out quite well. It's one of my favorite tunes here.
Night of the Shooting Star
This is a multi-layer acapella piece. It's a nice change, but not my kind of thing so much. That said, this is short.
Bonus Tracks
                  

All Night Long (Feat. George Lynch)

Really, all you need to know here is that George Lynch is playing guitar. It sounds just like you'd expect from a team of Bonnett and Lynch. It's a killer track, really. It takes no prisoners.

The Badger - Hardin & York's Wind in the Willows - Feat. Graham Bonnet
This is a huge change. It prominently features symphonic instrumentation. It's a very operatic kind of cut that really lands in the realm of progressive rock. It's cool, but so different.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Hardin & York's Wind in the Willows - Feat. Graham Bonnet
This one is much more of a straight ahead rocker. It's solid stuff. There is an extended drum solo on this.
Bonus Tracks Plus Escape from Alcatrazz - The Graham Bonnet Band
                 

Recorded Live at the Country Club, Reseda, California, 1983 - Alcatrazz

                     
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live

This live stomper is exceptional and has some trademark Malmsteen soloing.

General Hospital
Not a huge change, this is a solid hard rocking live performance.
Kree Nakoorie
I dig the epic metal vibe of this screaming hot rocker. It's one of the best of this live set. There is a particularly amazing guitar solo section here. It's followed by a drop to some music that makes me think of the soundtrack the movie "Halloween."
Island in the Sun

 Here's another killer metallic stomper in live form. It has some great guitar soloing. It's also driving hot and quite melodic.

Evil Eye
Here is a killer instrumental stomper. It has such great interplay. Of course, there is also exceptional guitar soloing. This is very much of the technical epic metal school of thought.
Since You've Been Gone
This time around it's the song Bonnet did with Rainbow. This live rendering is pretty close to the original.
Hiroshima Mon Amour
The guitar soloing really steals the show here. That's not saying there is anything wrong with the tune. It's solid. It's just not a standout, but that guitar soloing sure rises above.
Suffer Me
More of a balladic styled cut, this is classy stuff. It's one of the better tunes on this live set.
Desert Song
This dramatic rocker has a lot of style and charm. It's definitely one of the highlights of this show. In fact, it might be the sheer winner, really.
Jet to Jet
A real driving metal screamer, this is great stuff.
Escape from Alcatrazz - Japan-June 2015 The Graham Bonnet Band
      

All Night Long

This pop rock cut gets a live telling here that's not up to the kind of thing we heard on the Alcatrazz tunes. It's more just mainstream rock without a lot of "oomph." Beyond that, the recording quality is definitely weaker than that on the other live recordings.

Love's No Friend
Earning a parental advisory, this one is a step up from the last in terms of the performance and the sound quality.
Since You've Been Gone
A Rainbow tune, this performance really stands tall. I like it perhaps better than the previous rendition here.
Suffer Me
Here is another repeat. I think I prefer the previous version, but this one is stiff competition. It's very powerful, really.
Night Games
This is another that's among the better stuff here. It's dramatic and quite powerful.
Lost in Hollywood
Screaming hot, energized and really rocking, this is a great tune. It's very solid for sure.
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