Here is new prog metal band A-Z, formed from the Fates Warning alumni duo of Ray Alder and Mark Zonder.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: Metal Blade
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Ray Alder – vocals * Mark Zonder – drums * Joop Wolters – guitars * Vivien Lalu – guitars * Phillip Bynoe – bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Trial By Fire * 02 The Far Side Of The Horizon * 03 The Machine Gunner * 04 Rise Again * 05 Window Panes * 06 Run Away * 07 Stranded * 08 At The Waters Edge * 09 Borrowed Time * 10 Sometimes * 11 The Silence Broken
WEBLINKS: Site Link
With A-Z we have the formation of a new progressive metal band with international connections. A-Z are the surnames of Fates Warning alumni Ray Alder, who lives in Spain and drum master Mark Zonder. With three talented additions in tow (American Bynoe, Frenchman Lalu and Dutchman Wolters) this band are one to watch out for among the prog metal ranks.
Musically, A-Z are in the same zone as Kings Of Apollo (also reviewed here at GDM), both bands delving into prog metal though with slightly contrasting results. KOA are probably a touch heavier, A-Z opting for a more mainstream delivery but both bands contain undoubted technical musicians who are at the top of their game.
At 50 minutes, there’s a bit of listening time to be had, I won’t go through every track like I usually do with my reviews, as I’m strapped for time with a few other write-up’s still to come in the next few days. ‘Trial By Fire’ is the lead-off track which also features as the band’s video. This one is propelled by Zonder’s exemplary drum work.
Everybody has a part to play on ‘The Far Side Of The Horizon’, with solo parts showcasing their skill. ‘The Machine Gunner’ shifts to a rapid fire tempo, the only thing missing are the bullets. This is a played in an anthemic style. ‘Window Panes’ commences with some sharp riffing, mild verses and big vocal chants on the chorus. Wolters and Lalu sound like they are having fun as their instruments are front and center on this one.
‘Run Away’ is all about ebb and flow. I was kinda hoping this track would maintain an upbeat tempo all the way through but it doesn’t. It’s more ebb than flow. This approach is also reflected on ‘Stranded’ and by now I’m detecting a pattern. ‘Borrowed Time’ contains a repeating staccato guitar rhythm throughout, it does have some good moments. It’s one of those tracks that will benefit from a turn-up in volume. ‘Sometimes’ is at the lighter end of the scale, coming off like a progressive version of Toto believe it or not, which is all fine by me.
I quite enjoyed this album which I’ve only just picked up, though it was released back in August 2022. I’ll admit that ‘A-Z’ is a bit of a grower, so bear that in mind if you are going to take a chance with it. Gotta chuckle at the album cover too, created by Canadian legend Hugh Syme who did quite a few of the Rush covers if I recall, plus many others.
Also on the books is Vivien Lalu’s own band project Lalu for which Frontiers SRL has released his ‘Paint The Sky’ album during 2022 which also features Joop Wolters. King’s Of Mercia is the other FW offshoot band featuring Jim Mattheos, they too have released their debut album. A busy year all round for everyone then.
Trial By Fire
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