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My roots in Hard Rock and Metal music reach back decades.  During my formidable years, I can remember spending endless hours in the record store rifling through rows of vinyl discovering bands I'd never heard of, and imagining what they'd sound like based on the album art.  Metal was mostly an underground, word-of-mouth society that stayed that way until the 80's glam movement broke and catapulted the genre for all to hear.  One of the bands that created some buzz at the time was a little known band by the name of Alcatrazz.  This English-American band's unique melodic, soaring theatrical style lasted only a few short years but not without exposing us to the now legends Graham Bonnet, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Steve Vai.   

Now, almost 35 years later, Graham Bonnet, along with fellow founding members including Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) and bassist Gary Shea have put together a flat-out barn-burner of a record!  With a reputation of launching guitar virtuoso's, Born Innocent marks the studio debut of Boston-based Berklee College Of Music assistant professor of guitar, the magnificent Joe Stump.  With Mark Benquechea on drums, Alcatrazz continues their heavy, melodic and finely articulated hard rock flavor that was a cornerstone of the likes of Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group, when the band went on hiatus decades ago.

The album begins with the title track "Born Innocent", showing us immediately that Bonnet's unique and powerful self-taught singing style is alive and well.  Stump's guitars are also in the forefront here, and we're treated to a perfect song to get one's blood pumping.  The album's first single "Polar Bear" follows, and here is where they start to shine.  A double-base tour de force showcasing soaring vocals along with a refreshing melody that's all wrapped up in another double-bass ass-kicker of a song.  You immediately get a taste for the classic sound of Alcatraz presented in a modern package that feels nothing short of exhilarating.

The album continues, one killer track after another. "Finn McCool" rounds out the 1-2-3 punch to open the record, which leads to a couple of medium tempo grinders. "We Still Remember" and "London 1666" where Stump unloads a solo that'll surely scorch anything not fireproof.  This guy's insane.  "I Am The King", a big fat grinder of a song along with "The Wound is Open",  a groove-laden tune,  further showcases Bonnet's unmistakable power.  Perhaps my favorite song on the whole album could be "Body Beautiful," a behemoth of a song nestled toward the end of the collection.  Again, a classic Bonnet melodic chorus wrapped up by a song that could rest easy on a newer Judas Priest album.  A hidden gem for sure.

Fans of Alcatrazz will surely embrace this album as it checks all the boxes for an amazing rock masterpiece and then some.  For me, it serves as a reminder that this music we love is nothing short of timeless.  Alcatrazz has proven here that despite their 35-year hiatus, they are still relevant to the classic Hard Rock sound and have much to offer still.  Fingers crossed that soon they'll be free to take this new fistful of metal on the road, as surely there will be many folks clamoring to be a part of the classic Alcatrazz's resurgence.  In the meantime, grab this album when it drops and listen to it often and loud, you'll  be glad you did.  Be well!          


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  8.9 out of 10

Artist:  Alcatrazz  LPBorn Innocent  Release Date: July 31, 2020,   Label:  Silver Lining Music

John McAteer

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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