Given the fact that Rainbow similarly produced the premature live album On Stage early in its career, it is initially tempting to believe that Alcatrazz's decision to follow suit was symptomatic of any metal group possessing a guitar god. However, when considering that Live Sentence was apparently released without Yngwie's consent, it becomes increasingly evident that this EP was made to boost the group's sagging finances by showcasing the technical prowess of the renowned guitarist. Ironically, nonetheless, as fate would have it, just when Yngwie's reputation had sufficiently grown for the citation of his name on the album cover to lure buyers, he had acrimoniously left Alcatrazz shortly prior to the release of this concert. Nevertheless, at the time of this recording, Yngwie seemed to be on relatively amiable terms with the rest of the group, a fact more palpable on the video, where he happily mimics Graham's vocal line (in the tradition of Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan) in concert and confusedly sings the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" backstage.
Seldom has there been a live recording of a group so lopsidedly dominated by a single band member, thereby generating no surprise that Yngwie's tenure with Alcatrazz proved to be brief. Nevertheless, to claim that Alcatrazz was held hostage to the guitar god is improbable considering that on tracks like "Kree Nakoorie" enabling an opportunity for Gary Shea to commence the song with his own keyboard solo, he inexplicably relegates himself to a subordinate role in only playing the intro neo-classical riff with the inevitable result that Yngwie can exclusively hog solo time. Consequently, by this recording, Alcatrazz had already become a backing band, proving that Yngwie hardly needed to go solo to achieve musical hegemony.
What has largely prevented Live Sentence from entering the annals of legendary live albums, however, is Graham's less than spectacular vocal delivery which fails to comparably hold its own against Yngwie's phenomenal performance. To be sure, Graham clearly struggles on this recording, especially on "Hiroshima Mon Amour," where, after, straining his voice with the first chorus, wisely sings an octave lower in the subsequent verses yet fails to recover full confidence. Ultimately, Yngwie was quite correct in later commenting that many of the songs on No Parole were too high for his vocal range live which probably accounted for why Graham did not tackle the demanding chorus to "General Hospital,"one of the album's greatest songs. Although he brilliantly acquitted himself in concert at Castle Donington in 1980 (coincidentally, his final performance with Rainbow), unfortunately Graham obviously abused his voice in the interim, thereby resulting that his true vocal prowess would subsequently only be faithfully conveyed in the studio.
Considering that this recording was taken from a live performance in Japan in late January 1984 and released in conjunction with an excellent, though long out of date video entitled Metallic Live, it seems foolish that Alcatrazz (or more probably, its management) condensed a full-length concert into a 30 minute EP, particularly as its original 90 minute length easily could have accommodated the standard 2 LP live album format. The omission of two thirds from the original concert was an unfortunate decision, as it excised tracks which were not only among the band's finest (notably "Bigfoot"and "Suffer Me"),
but also featured Graham's better singing moments. Given that the lower vocal register on "Bigfoot" is less straining on his pipes, it is no accident that on this song he is in his stronger form and comes closest to reproducing his otherwise flawless studio perfomances. "Suffer Me" also features commendable singing, logically because Graham is not competing with Yngwie's guitar for most of the song. Also unfortunately absent is Alcatrazz's excellent cover of Rainbow's "Lost in Hollywood," a track which would be rarely performed by Graham again, with the less interesting songs "All Night Long" and "Since You've Been Gone" becoming his preferred Rainbow staples.
The reasons for Yngwie's displeasure with his performance on Live Sentence remain unclear, for, in all intents and purposes, his performance here is truly spectacular, where he skillfully solos in between brief verse breaks yet faithfully reproduces the memorable melodies which made his studio work on No Parole so distinctive. While it is possible that his dissatisfaction may be predicated upon an unintentionally humorous accident in the video where his wristband suddenly became entangled with his Strat pickup (perhaps accounting for why he has not worn wristbands on his picking arm ever since, at least in every subsequent video concert) which consequently hampers the climactic recapitulation of the main theme to "Kree Nakoorie," this seems to be an unlikely explanation, especially since these marred notes are nowhere audible in the EP recording, the natural result of overdubbing. Overall, here the listener is exposed to what was, at the time, one of the fastest and most dazzling guitar performances from a wunderkind who had recently turned twenty, rendering Live Sentence a curious, impressive albeit incomplete and flawed presentation of an overlooked band in concert.