In case you happened to be an old school hair metal fan, don’t get excited, there’s only one z in this Alcatraz. Polar opposite of it in fact, this is a no holds barred sludge/doom with a sweet southern tinge to it that fits in like barbeque sauce on baby back ribs. In the end, the hefty helping of metal that it serves up will satisfy the even the hungriest of metal fans.
If Residual Alcatraz were a ride it wouldn’t be a Lamborghini, but something more akin to a rusted and beaten up farm truck. Let me explain. This is an album that doesn’t rush through the paces, it plods along at the right pace, does not go any faster or any slower than it needs to, it simply plods along according to what it needs to do. The wonderful thing is that Residual Alcatraz is confident of what its aims are; there is no crisis of identity here. As for the rust, that’s simply to imply that Dogbane uses a tried and true sound, something that has been put through its paces and has been proven to work. Dogbane infuses the southern rock flavour with the sound with some sludge/doom, kind of like adding hickory smoke to ribs. Think Black Sabbath mixed with Vol 4 or Sabotage with a sprinkling of Murder the Mountains and you’d have an idea what to expect.
“Ride the Serpent” and “Born to Die” are tracks that explode out of the gates in a way that they’re meant to; great introductory material for an album and the quick pace gets you wanting more. However, it may not be 100% indicative of what you find in the rest of the album; some songs like “Devil in the Dark” and “Burning in the Light” (which, by the way has an awesome Blizzard of Ozz like intro) go into longer jam sessions than one may have wanted. Granted, it’s a full experience Dogbane is trying to provide (check out the “Number of the Beast” scream on “Residual Alcatraz“), but it doesn’t always hit the mark and it’s that, which is the problem. It stands to reason that they could have trimmed some of the fat from some of the songs, but this however, is nitpicking at best and I fully acknowledge it. But when the strength of the album lies in the leaner songs, it’s my opinion that the rest of the album should play to those strengths, but I could be wrong. It will change from person to person, but I don’t doubt that a good chunk of people will find the middle part of the album at least slightly over indulgent.
But while the album may have a slight problem in the middle, the end finishes off really strong. The last two songs provide a great ending to a solid album, and if anybody else hears the band clanging away on glass coke bottles on “Fire and Brimstone” please let me know, it’s driving me crazy. Finally, the politically charged “How the Mighty Have Fallen” provides a final layer of goodness but this time around with more cowbell and more punk influenced vocal stylings. In fact, in parts it sounds almost like Bitchin’era The Donnas tuned down to B, no joke. If those ribs were smoked then slathered in sauce, consider this the braising.
Residual Alcatraz is metal for the hungry, plain and simple; the catchy hooks and the familiar-but-somehow-new-sound preaches to a choir of what I would assume are very large biker fellows and/or people with varying lengths of beards (present writer not included). Fans of Red Fang, Mastodon, Valient Thorr should definitely welcome this new band into their midst and find a warm place in their equally long bearded hearts.