Thursday 6 March 2014

Dogbane - Residual Alcatraz

I've digging deep into my review pile again tonight and I've decided to write about US heavy metal/doom quartet Dogbane and their 2011 album Residual Alcatraz. They were originally a five-piece when Residual Alcatraz was recorded, but sadly in 2012 one their guitarists, Dave Ellenburg, passed away. They band have carried on though, playing the music they love to keep the memory of their comrade alive. The album was released by Heaven & Hell Records.


1. Ride The Serpent
2. Born To Die
3. Banished
4. Annihilator
5. God Forgive You
6. Devil In The Dark
7. Burning In The Light
8. Residual Alcatraz
9. Fire And Brimstone (Link Wray Cover)
10. How The Mighty Have Fallen

All sub-genres of metal have grown out of traditional heavy metal. Everyone knows that fact, so sometimes it’s good to celebrate that fact. Dogbane do just that with Residual Alcatraz. Taking the best bits from heavy metal of Iron Maiden, the doom of Black Sabbath and the blues of Lynyrd Skynyrd to weave their own sound, which may seem like a throwback but it’s more than worthy of your ears. Ride The Serpent starts things off with a mid-paced and often brooding melodic metal song, with some excellent melodic guitar work that keeps things simple.  Born To Die brings thrash to the party (I think of Arnie every time I read that sentence!). Add to that the well used twin-guitar harmonies and you’ve got a perfect old-school recipe. The extended instrumental section towards the end demonstrates my Lynyrd Skynyrd comparison perfectly too, even if it is more metal!

Residual Alcatraz is definitely a grower, as Banished is mental. Chock full of great musicianship and subtle extras that make their heavy metal stand out. Annihilator is doomier than the trio of songs before it and it’s got plenty of groove, especially 2:15 when Dogbane break out into a great upbeat section that lays the foundation for an opulent solo.  Dogbane’s song don’t outstay their welcome. They’re able to fit all they want into four-five minutes for the most part, yet they don’t sound rushed and let their songs breath. God Forgive You is a great example, as they again prefer musicianship over histrionics and it pays dividends. In Devil In The Dark, Dogbane might have settled on the most catchy song on the record. It’s got a horror-punk edge to it and it goes down really well, without sounding cheesy. At about 5:05 the song changes and the atmosphere darkens, in a twist which completes the song in downtuned-guitar and ever slowing drum crashes.

Burning In The Light is their closest song to doom in terms of length, at nearly ten minutes. The good thing is though that it’s not painfully slow. It’s one hell of a mighty song. I sat and listened to the whole thing without breaking to type and I lost my shit to those riffs. It’s followed up by the title track, which is a polar opposite to it’s predecessor. It’s fast, thrash-laden and that Iron Maiden comparison jumps out at you again. It’s almost devastating when you get to penultimate track Fire & Brimstone (a cover of a song by Link Wray, one of the early pioneers of the power chord), because it means that there’s only two songs left (unsurprisingly). This album reinforces my theory about just sticking on a new band and rolling with it. You’ll more than likely find a band that you’ve missed out on and that you’ll really dig. It’s definitely happened to me here. Okay, so it’s not breaking the mould, but Residual Alcatraz is still a whole heap of fun. Album closer How The Might Have Fallen follows on instantly and carries on the momentum gained from the previous two tracks. It’s a song which highlights their relaxed swagger, as they solo and croon their way to the end. A great end to the record.

I’m not going to babble on much longer, but Dogbane are well worth listening to if you have a passing fondness for heavy metal in the traditional sense or fancy a break from your uber technical death metal. Great stuff by a band who are clearly playing for the love of it.

Dogbane are streaming a selection of the songs from Residual Alcatraz on their website -, where you can also pick up the cd version of the album.

Heaven & Hell Records Facebook -

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