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A-Z are a new name to contend with, but one filled with seasoned hands at the wheel. This melodic Prog Metal group features old Fates Warning buddies Ray Alder and Mark Zonder. They are joined by Philip Bynoe (Warlord & Steve Vai) and Lalu guitarist Joop Wolters, plus keyboardist Vivien Lalu himself; therefore, five gentlemen playing on a wonderful Prog Metal cavalcade of songs, with performances that any fan of the Prog genre can enjoy.

A-Z play a sumptuous blend of melodic Progressive Metal, but there’s also plenty for fans of melodic Hard Rock to get excited about. This clever and intoxicating musical mix of Prog and Hard Rock makes you want to discover new and exhilarating things each time it’s played.

‘Trial By Fire’ and ‘The Far Side Of The Horizon’ are reminiscent of mid-era Fates Warning; Alder, Zonder and the band immediately forging a steel-strong musical bond. Then there’s a song that confounds expectations; imagine a mix of EVH guitar licks and solos, mixed with some killer Progressive Metal riffs, all topped off with a stunning hook. If you can, then ‘The Machine Gunner’ will sound even better when you do get to hear it yourselves.

Ballad ‘Rise Again’ follows, and Ray Alder’s voice is more emotive and less Metal here, if you will. It’s a joy to hear, and it shows a whole different side to this great new band’s music. ‘Window Panes’ has a kind of JSS/ SOTO feel to it, whilst ‘Run Away’ is a killer melodic Hard Rock song where Joop Wolters is let loose on guitar. The laid back ‘Stranded’ with its huge chorus, the up-tempo ‘At The Waters Edge’, ‘Borrowed Time’, and the riff-heavy ‘Sometimes’ continue A-Z’s glorious melodic Prog onslaught. Closing proceedings is the bonus track, ‘The Silence Broken’, a wonderful track, again with a JSS feel to it; it’s so good... it shouldn’t be a bonus cut.

A-Z have come up with a stunning debut album, which shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as who’s on it. Yet so many times before, a band gets together with well know personnel and it just doesn’t work out. This album does, and it will appeal not only to fans of the bands and people involved here, but also to a wide range of Rock music lovers who just love listening to great music.

Reviewer: Ian Johnson

Label: Metal Blade

Genre: Progressive

Issue Reviewed In: #100

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