Alcatrazz – V

V Album Cover Art

Alcatrazz – V
Silver Lining Music
Release Date: 15/10/2021
Running Time: 62:32
Review by Chris Galea
10/10

A very quick recap of the rundown to this album…after an absence of almost 25 years Alcatrazz had returned in grand style in 2020 with the album “Born Innocent”. However, the buzz created by that album risked being wasted when founding member and lead singer Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Michael Schenker) left to pursue a solo career. Alcatrazz quickly recruited Doogie White (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker). On paper he was the ideal replacement for Bonnet but, as history sometimes tells us, the potential of a line-up doesn’t always give the expected results. Is that the case with this new Alcatrazz album?

Well, worry not…if “Born Innocent” was one of the best albums of 2020, then “V” manages to surpass it. The songwriting is impeccable and the music’s execution sharp and dramatic. Indeed for those, who like me, have a soft spot for neo-classical pomp, “V” should be a pure joy to listen to.

Several full-throttle moments enkindle the album…’Guardian Angel’ and ‘Turn Of The Wheel’ spring to mind. But like a Caravaggio masterpiece, there are various shades to the album. For instance, ‘Return To Nevermore’ is dominated by a Doomy riff and ‘Dark Day For My Soul’, one of my favourite tracks, is a sort of epic ballad with some amazing singing from Doogie. On the other hand, ‘House of Lies’ and ‘Alice’s Eyes’ are groovy songs while still steadily holding onto the neo-classical niche.

To my ears Doogie sounds slightly different from what he did with other bands, such as Tank or Rainbow, but his singing is still solid, powerful and melodic and fits with the music like a glove. And I loved Jimmy Waldo’s keyboards, particularly in ‘Grace Of God’ and ‘Dark Day For My Soul’.

Doogie White and shredmaster Joe Stump are responsible for writing most of the material on “V” and the band seems to have stumbled upon a solid songwriting team with these two. Comparisons with the solo music of Yngwie Malmsteen, while understandable, would give rise to a chicken and egg dilemma so best leave that alone and just enjoy the music we have here.

A number of guests drop by to make the album a more interesting proposition (details below) but really the material could have been just as worthy of one’s purchase with the five members of Alcatrazz alone.

I would say that the greatest quality of “V” is that it is perfectly balanced…all-round fantastic musicianship but never at the expense of the songs. An album clearly rooted in the classical heritage of Metal but that also feels modern. It is all I could have ever hoped for from Alcatrazz…and then some.

‘Grace of God’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Guardian Angel
02. Nightwatch
03. Sword Of Deliverance
04. Turn Of The Wheel
05. Blackheart
06. Grace Of God
07. Return To Nevermore
08. Target
09. Maybe Tomorrow
10. House Of Lies
11. Alice’s Eyes
12. Dark Day For My Soul

LINE-UP:
Doogie White – Vocals
Joe Stump – Guitars
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards
Gary Shea – Bass
Mark Benquechea – Drums

Guests:
Ronnie van Staven (Riot, S.A. Slayer) Bass on ‘Guardian Angel’, ‘Nightwatch’, ‘Target’
Nigel Glockler (Saxon) – Drums on ‘Guardian Angel’, ‘Blackheart’
Cliff Evans (Tank) – Guitar on ‘Grace of God’

LINKS:

Alcatrazz Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Armored Saint – Symbol Of Salvation Live

Symbol Of Salvation Live Album Cover Art

Armored Saint – Symbol Of Salvation Live
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 22/10/2021
Running Time: 01:08:10
Review by Simon Black
9/10

Armored Saint are ones of those bands who really, really, really ought to be much bigger than they currently are. I first came across them when I was given a DJ promo copy of the studio version of “Symbol Of Salvation” way back when and was blown away by a record that across its thirteen songs did not have a duff one amongst them. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was the fifth record from these boys, so what I had taken as an explosive debut was the result of a decade of hard work. That’s work done mainly upstream at a time when America only seemed to care for Hair Metal or Thrash Metal, whilst they ploughed the Power Metal furrow, arguably ahead of Helloween, settling the point, once and for all, why the USA variant is so different from its ultimately more dominant European counterpart.

This was Power Metal with way more groove and soul. Then there was John Bush’s incredible voice – a voice that Metallica once tried to lure away and which ultimately Anthrax succeeded in doing, killing off Armored Saint for a decade, by which time the world had moved on and not helped the fact that Bush still could not let Anthrax go properly until Joey Belladonna’s return in 2005. They’ve been facing an uphill struggle ever since, which is a shame, because I can’t fault any of their recent studio offerings at all – 2015’s “Win Hands Down” and last year’s “Punching The Sky” are absolute masterworks as far as I am concerned, but they don’t quite hold a candle to the last album of the classic line up, which turned out to be original guitarist Dave Prichard’s obituary before his tragically early death from leukaemia in 1990. So, dusting this album down for its thirtieth anniversary makes perfect sense and the band fortunately laid these live shows down way back in 2018 in readiness. Add to this there’s a filmed version of the show in the works, with both recordings being captured at New York’s Gramercy Theatre.

Bush is one of those singer’s whose power has not been diminished by age, even though the tuning may have dropped the odd semitone to help him along, but that makes the material sound darker and heavier than its original recording. That really helps, as even a riotously up-tempo belter like opener ‘Reign Of Fire’ (still the Saint song as far as I’m concerned) sounds better with this darker underbelly. The original recordings always suffered in my eyes, as my ageing vinyl copy never belted out too loud even when turned up to eleven as a consequence of the physical challenges of squeezing fifty-five minutes’ worth of material onto a single disk, so it wasn’t until the coming of the digital age that I could hear a reasonable remastering of this. This live recording goes way farther – the sound is rich, fat and heavier than a two ton heavy thing. Add to which Bush’s performance is absolutely top notch here, with not a note or syllable dropped and although the audience don’t sound too loud, the atmosphere is positively electric.

This release is pretty good value for money too, as well as all thirteen original songs being given the live treatment, plus a radio edit of the title track, but more interestingly five demo tracks featuring Prichard which never made it to the final album. The contrast in Bush’s voice is really obvious played back to back, but his live delivery has a maturity and richness that he lacked in those younger days. Much as I love the original I suspect I’m probably more likely to re-spin this live version in its entirety, as it’s got that darker edge and timbre that the band’s current incarnation has developed combined with some of their absolute best songs in their thirty-seven year career.

‘Spineless’ (Official Video from “Symbol Of Salvation Live”)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Reign Of Fire
02. Dropping Like Flies
03. Last Train Home
04. Tribal Dance
05. The Truth Always Hurts
06. Half Drawn Bridge
07. Another Day
08. Symbol Of Salvation
09. Hanging Judge
10. Warzone
11. Burning Question
12. Tainted Past
13. Spineless
14. Nothing Between The Ears (1989 4-Track Demo)
15. Get Lost (1989 4-Track Demo)
16. Medieval Nightmares (1989 4-Track Demo)
17. People (1989 4-Track Demo)
18. Pirates (1989 4-Track Demo)
19. Symbol Of Salvation (Live Radio Edit)

LINE-UP:
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums
Phil Sandoval – Guitars
John Bush – Vocals
Jeff Duncan – Guitars

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Void Vator – Great Fear Rising

Great Fear Rising Album Cover Art

Void Vator – Great Fear Rising
Ripple Music
Release Date: 23/04/2021
Running Time: 32:31
Review by Simon Black
10/10

You know once in a while, records come across the ether from bands I’ve never heard of, that absolutely blow my socks off. This is one of them, categorically and unequivocally.

Void Vator have been at this for a good seven years or so and despite having to recover from the challenge of losing the physical Californian presence of their drummer Moura to a USA Visa / immigration issue, seem to have channelled some of that frustration into one of the more interesting and punchy records I have heard in a while (although he’s still in there folks, thanks to the marvel of remote recording). Despite being at it since 2014, this is also only their sophomore album. At thirty-two minutes it’s short, it’s sweet, but it definitely packs a bloody powerful punch. Like everyone else, the pandemic has royally screwed with their plans, but unlike many other bands forced into remote writing and recording this baby does not lose one ounce of energy along the way and it was a problem they already had to address after Moura could no longer remain locally to the rest of the band, giving them a head start on the challenge everyone else has had to adapt to.

Musically, this is mostly high tempo Heavy Fucking Metal in the highly accessible American Modern Metal style, which flows that American Punk energy with a deep, long snort of metallic Rock’n’Roll that usually comes from a deep love of the likes of Motörhead, but whose parents lived through the Sunset Strip years and left the records behind to prove it. The energy is palpable and reflected in songs that largely fly by in three short minutes or so with a fast, but not excessively heavy delivery style and vocals from Lucas Kanopa that lean towards the clean but equally dirty style that means they are a band that could just cross a few aisles and get a wider audience if they can get their message out. That message is one of tightly executed and well-crafted song-writing, slathered in blisteringly raw but technically exquisite musically delivery.

That of course is the problem for so many acts right now. At this stage of their career the boys need high profile support slots to tell the world they are there, because if this record does not get listened to by a larger bunch of new listeners it’s going to be a damned shame. Upbeat, up-tempo and up your nostrils, with enough sleaze to maintain credibility but the musical chops to raise eyebrows positively, this is darned fine and refreshing stuff. So read this, buy this and make it fucking happen for them. If you don’t fucking mind…!

‘I Can’t Take It’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. I Can’t Take It
02. I Want More
03. There’s Something Wrong With Us
04. Losing Control
05. Great Fear Rising
06. McGyver’s Mullet
07. Encounter
08. Poltergeist
09. Infierno

LINE-UP:
Sam Harman – Bass
German Moura – Drums
Erik Kluiber – Guitars
Lucas Kanopa – Guitars & Vocals

LINKS:

Void Vator Promo Pic. Credit Nikkie Marie Kephartv
Photo Credit: Nikkie Marie Kephartv

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Greyhawk- Keepers Of The Flame

Greyhawk- Keepers Of The Flame
Fighter Records
Release Date: 16/06/2020
Running Time: 44:05
Review by Tsarina Wilson
8/10

Monday mornings. They’re not great, are they?! They need cheering up. So, for a change, I decided to start a Monday morning with a review of the new release by American metallers, Greyhawk. I have to say, this album had me totally confused at first. I always listen to any album 2 or 3 times before I write anything down, but this one had me truly stumped! Was it a metal opera? Was it metal storytelling, with vocals as varied as the amount of beer on sale these days?! So, this review is the product of a good few re-starts! Man, these guys know how to throw a spanner in the works with their music! Incidentally, Greyhawk are so metal they even have their own beer, and let’s be honest not many can say that!

Greyhawk’s quest started in 2018, when five metal guys (featuring alumni from bands like Skelator, Aggression, Prelude to a Pistol and Prophets of Addiction) met up and brought their unique style to life. This is their debut full length album on Fighter Records, and it brings something new to the table. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but then who is these days! Adding a bit more variety into music is what its all about, and these guys certainly stand out in a crowd, and I get the feeling that was their aim.

‘Gates Of Time’ starts the album. It’s very laid back, very calm, with a hint of Manowar, and short and sweet. This was where I thought I’d got the measure of their sound, but I was wrong! So, what’s next? Well that would be crazy drumming, epic guitar riffs and ear-piercing screams, followed by a voice I just wasn’t expecting! This fast-moving track has vocal variations all over it, and makes you giddy! In some places you think the vocals don’t actually match the content, but that’s what makes this album so different, and we like to be different don’t we?

There’s a lot of storytelling throughout this album. In ‘Drop the Hammer’, you can imagine the guys on stage telling the story with visuals on a backdrop. But that element takes nothing away from some truly amazing guitar riffs that make you sit up and listen. I can only imagine how epic it must be to be able to play like that. The guys take it down a notch for ‘The Rising Sign’, where Taylor’s voice is almost haunting, but still so powerful, and the addition of nicely timed backing vocals blend well. But don’t be fooled! This track maybe slower, but the power and feeling are still very strong here. The track builds and builds until the end, with low lamenting vocal harmonies in the background, which are quite chilling.

I Think my favourite track has to be ‘Ophidian Throne’. The tone of Taylor’s voice makes the hairs on your neck stand up and gives you chills.

This is definitely a Marmite album – you’ll either love it or hate it – there’s no in between! The variations from one track to another are a little hard to get your head around, but who wants to listen to the same thing over and over? It’s storytelling, meets Manowarish (yes, I just made that word up!), with a blend of metal, operatic vocals, crazy but intense guitar riffs, and heart thumping drumming. I found it a bit like a Chinese puzzle, it looks impossible, but you just have to take time to figure it out. With ear splitting screams that catch you off guard at times, it’s also not an album that you will fall asleep listening to! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!

If this is what these guys can do for a debut album, then the future is exciting! If they grow from this, their albums will be insanely powerful and intense. With this album they have really shown what’s possible and what they’re made of. Great work guys and amazing cover artwork too!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Gates Of Time
02. Frozen Star
03. Drop The Hammer
04. Halls Of Insanity
05. The Rising Sign
06. R.X.R.O
07. Don’t Wait For The Wizard
08. Black Peak
09. Masters Of The Sky
10. Ophidian Throne
11. Keeper Of The Flames

LINE-UP:
Rev Taylor – Vocals
Darin Wall – Bass
Jesse Berlin – Guitars
Alika Madis – Guitars
Nate Butler – Drums

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/Greyhawkmetal
www.greyhawkmetal.bandcamp.com
www.twitter.com/greyhawkmetal
www.instagram.com/greyhawkmetal/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Tsarina Wilson and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s with CORNERS OF SANCTUARY

EMQ’s with CORNERS OF SANCTUARY

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Philadelphia, PA based New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal band Corners Of Sanctuary. Huge thanks to guitarist Mick Michaels for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

Hello! My name is Mick Michaels, I play guitar for the band Corners of Sanctuary. We are from Philadelphia and formed in 2011. Our music is rooted in that classic, traditional Heavy Metal sound…so much so that it has been classified as the New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal (NWoTAHM).

How did you come up with your band name?

“Corners of sanctuary” are places each of us can go to be who we really are…without judgment or ridicule. It’s a private, personal place. It can be real or imaginary, it doesn’t matter. Music for us is a “corner of sanctuary”. It’s a place where we can express our deepest emotions and be who we really are. There is freedom and empowerment with having the ability to just be. We hope that listeners can find our music as a small corner of sanctuary for themselves.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We are from Philadelphia in the United States. Music here is much the same as it is anywhere…rich and diversified. But with so many venues closing these last few years, there are fewer opportunities for bands to perform live. Unless you’re a cover or a tribute act, an all original band doesn’t draw as much as they used to, unfortunately.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

We released an EP in March titled “For COS and Country.” The EP dropped right before we started our UK tour. Two videos were produced from that EP, both filmed while we were in the UK, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Sandstorm Salvation’. We also released a free digi pack download during the pandemic titled “Quarantined Lockdown” which included several demo versions of songs as well as a new track called ‘We Won’t Back Down (Do or Die)’ written during all the commotion. A video for the single was also released. We are working on a follow up digi pack called “The Second Wave” that will include acoustic versions of several of our songs. One track, ‘Metal Machine’, has already released and there is a video available for the song as well.

Who have been your greatest influences?

For me it has been my family. They have been a constant source of inspiration. In regards to other musicians, it has been guitar players like K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton from Judas Priest, John Sykes, Ace Frehley, Jake E Lee, Criss Oliva to name just a few. My older brother plays guitar…I definitely was heavily influenced by him as well. Among other artists who have inspired me include Paul Stanley, Rob Halford, Barry Gibb, Neil Diamond, Cozy Powell, Les Binks…the list goes on and on…

What first got you into music?

As far back as I can remember I was drawn to music. My family connected to music as well. There was always some music playing…the Beatles, Motown, Doo Wop, Pop music on the radio…My grandfather and again, older brother both played guitar, so there was definitely a level of inspiration there that gravitated me to music.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Would love to work with Judas Priest or Paul Stanley… have always been a fan of Kiss and Paul’s 78 solo album is one of my favourite records.

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Any festival would be great. We played a festival in Hagan, Germany and it was amazing. Just the energy from the people is intoxicating. Music is all about sharing, so we are happy to share it wherever and whenever we can.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Most of what we have received is either in the way of food or drink from a very kind fan. We are always grateful for that sort of gesture…definitely not necessary but always real appreciative. I guess the weirdest gift is always the “gift of gab” in some rare cases. It’s always cool to meet and greet with the people who come to the shows…it’s a great way to connect and talk about music and all. But there are always those occasions where someone wants to gift us with a conversation that is totally off the wall…even borderline incoherent…those are always the tough ones because you don’t want to be rude or anything but you also don’t want to engage in something that could potentially wind up spiraling out of control…so you do your best to smile and be appreciative…much like the penguins in the movie Madagascar…”smile and wave boys, just smile and wave”.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Be true to yourself and never let the words or actions of another cause you to lose who you are…you are always better than that.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Well if it winds up being anything like what the Lazarus Pit does, I will pass. But hypothetically speaking, bringing back Dio for one last tour would be amazing. Hopefully, since I was the one who brought him back, I would get a chance to accompany him on that tour.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

Being able to create and then share that creation with others is really awesome. As an artist you get to see this idea turn into many different things and then it continues to evolve over time and become something else.  It’s so cool…that’s music.

Hate is a strong word. I do dislike some of the politics and shady business practices that are rampant in the music industry. But then again, that is true for any industry. I do what I can to avoid that kind of negativity.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Change often happens because it’s a response to something else…in most cases change is a tough pill to swallow, hence why the music industry stayed the same for so many years. A lot has changed in just the last five to 10 years that has impacted both sides of the industry…artists and execs. Today the artist has more control, and or freedom, but it comes with a price and that price is pure independence. Independence means you are on your own lock, stock and barrel…you have the choices, you have the gain but you also have all the risk. That greater independence has also divided artists amongst themselves. There is no goodwill or lending a helping hand like there once was, simply because it’s harder to get that piece of the pie because more and more people are working towards the same thing. Digital technology has offered artists a chance to participate on a level playing field in some regards. But the flip side is that the market is now oversaturated and music has become white noise…it’s here today and gone this afternoon…staying power has been eliminated because things move much quicker now. What may be needed now is a bridge between that level of independence and a level of impact.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“Stained Class” by Judas Priest, Paul Stanley’s ’78 solo album, Kiss – “Rock And Roll Over”, Queensryche – “Rage for Order”, Savatage – “Streets” and “Hall of the Mountain King”, Judas Priest – “Screaming for Vengeance”, Accept – “Restless and Wild” and “Balls to the Wall”, Ratt – “Out of the Cellar” and “Invasion of Your Privacy”… and that list goes on and on as well…there are tons more.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

I always liked how Heavy Metal sounded on a brand new cassette tape. There was just something about it that had this gritty punch…especially blaring through a 80’s boom box. It also didn’t hurt how easy they were to carry around…and they could take a beating.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

There have been several actually. When we opened for UDO…that was amazing for us…we played the Trocadero Theater in Philly to a packed house. There was a similar feeling when we opened up for Styryper and Grim Reaper. When we played the festival in Germany there was so much energy that it was almost surreal. Last fall we played the Whisky A Go-Go in L.A….the place was jammed packed and it just blew us away. We have been very fortunate.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

Maybe a painter or a bus driver at Walt Disney World.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Including myself…my wife and two children and Paul Stanley…I would definitely want to share the experience with them. Besides I am not a great conversationalist but my wife is…so I would need the help talking with Paul.

What’s next for the band?

In addition to “The Second Wave” acoustic digi pack coming out, we are finishing up our new album, “Heroes Never Die”. We are planning for a release later this year…and we are working on scheduling shows for 2021, which looks to include heading back to the UK and beyond…if we are lucky, maybe a couple of dates in December right before the Holidays…go out on a high note.

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

Corners of Sanctuary’s Official Website: www.cornersofsanctuary.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CornersofSanctuary
Twitter: www.twitter.com/COSnROLL
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cosnationmetal
…or just Google search “Corners of Sanctuary,” you’ll find us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Music and everywhere else.

Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Do you have some to share? It doesn’t matter what they are called ‘cause they are good!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thanks so much for talking with me. It’s greatly appreciated.

Want to thank all the fans for their support…you guys ROCK!

Take care everyone…be safe and COSnROLL\m/\m/

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.