Often it is singer and guitarist who come together to create music. In the event of A-Z, however, the story has a different beginning. A-Z is the brainchild of drum legend Mark Zonder, known from bands like Warlord and Fates Warning. At the beginning of 2020 Zonder had the idea to create a band that would not deal with progressive structures. It should be metal that is straight forward and to the point, with a good dose of melody that has the potential to reach a wider audience.
With Zolder as the driving force from A-Z, the ‘Z’ in the band name would also be clarified. The ‘A’ remains to be clarified and it stands for none other than Fates Warning frontman Ray Alder. The line-up is completed by Philip Bynoe (b), Vivien Lalu (key) and Joop Wolters (g).
The debut album features eleven songs with Zonder and Lalu as the driving force in the songwriting. While Zonder developed the rhythms and grooves, he and Lalu came up with the first song structures. After Wolters was on board as well, the songs were refined and took more and more shape. Recording took place in different home studios, depending on the home country of the musicians involved, but still the result of the work stands like a rock.
The songs on ‘A-Z’ are inspired by the 80s and 90s, whereby a pinch of the 70s cannot be denied. Each of the songs spark immediately and unfolds the power of rock’n’roll. Melodies and hooks are sophisticated and what comes out of the speakers pleases right away. Mentioned is the speedy and very dynamic ‘The Machine Gunner’. What stands out is that despite the catchiness, there is a musical ambition to the songs. Compared to the more complex sounds of Fates Warning, for example, the skill of the musicians involved is used to give great melodic metal songs a certain class as well.
Each of the songs immediately catches the listener’s ear, which also applies to the more soulful ‘Run Away’. The whole class of the band is reflected here and benefits the song itself. With ‘Stranded’ this basic principle comes even more strongly to play.
The beginning of the album could not be better chosen with ‘Trial by Fire’. The opener blasts out of the speakers and immediately shows that A-Z are not just any band. Even if the beginning of the song reminds a little bit of Fates Warning, at the latest in the chorus it becomes apparent that the focus of A-Z goes in a different direction.
A-Z’ is a great album. The right people with the same musical vision have come together here. The result are songs that immediately catch the listener and are not stingy with good melodies. That the whole thing gets along without the usual cliches is another benefit of a stellar album. More of it, please.
- Trial By Fire
- The Far Side of the Horizon
- The Machine Gunner
- Rise Again
- Window Panes
- Run Away
- At the Waters Edge
- Borrowed Time
- The Silence Broken (Bonus Track)
Label: Metal Blade Records
Genre: Melodic Metal
Release Date EU: August 12th, 2022
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