(Review by Patrick De Sloover)

Around 2010, some friends gathered at the East Coast of the USA, Greensboro, North Carolina to be precise to start a band. Some played in other bands before (Steelwolf, Crucifice, Rictus Grin), others were new in the genre. They wanted to create music with Heavy Doom influences and a bit of the typical US Metal. Pretty soon after their foundation they entered the recording studio to get 10 tracks done. Together with the helping hand of Gary Long for mastering, they produced, engineered and mixed almost everything on their own. While listening to the album, which is the first one actually, I took a look at the lyrics of the songs. Many refer to religion, whether it’s good or bad, and that might have been the reason why they got in touch with Heaven And Hell Records, who signed the band and  released this album.

This album can be divided in several parts. Some tracks are pretty heavy and show their appreciation for Candlemass :‘Banished’, others prefer Iron Butterfly ingredients: ‘Burning In The Light’. On some tracks, we hear that the vocals of Jeff Neal are influenced by Bruce Dickinson and Eric Wagner of Trouble. Perhaps that’s the perfect description, as they play a kind of Heavy Metal with some Doom parts in between. Like Eric Wagner would be in Iron Maiden, but for clarity, with a much lesser quality.  Anyhow, tracks like ‘Devil In The Dark’ and ‘Residual Alcatraz’ have good pace, while ‘God Forgive You’ tends to get boring…

The front cover artwork can be unfold into a 3-page painting of Alcatraz, although what’s left over. I really don’t get the point why a band call their first album Residual Alcatraz. What is the musical link? Have they all been in jail throughout the years?  I guess not… Let’s get a look at the lyrics of that title track to find out more, but that’s limited to a simple story about getting out. Years ago, I was inside Alcatraz prison (as a tourist of course), and the painting reminds me on that visit. But compared with other songs on this debut, there are much better topics to work it out, and hopefully with an artwork of much better quality!

I can’t say that this is a bad album, but I guess that the result would be much better if the band took much more time to write and create, and get the whole thing done. Some songs are just average, and that can’t be the intention when you want to release an album?

My rating: 63 / 100