Rasping vocals
"At the crossroads between progressive metal and melodic hard rock, "A-Z" will please fans of both genres and lovers of a radiant Ray Alder."
PROGRACER (28.10.2022)  
(0) opinions (3) comment(s)
Alert! A-Z lands on the melodic hard rock planet for its first eponymous album with quite a calling card. At the origin of the project, the excellent drummer Marc Zonder (Warlord, ex-Fates Warning, ex-Redemption) has gathered a bunch of friends from his metal career, namely Ray Alder (Fates Warning, ex-Redemptionp), Philip Bynoe (Warlord, ex-Steve Vai) on bass, the guitarist Joop Wolters and Vivien Lalu, author of the excellent and recent "Paint The Sky", on keyboards.

With such a line-up, no bad surprise on the talent side. Not on the quality level either, since the first bars of 'Trial By Fire' reassure us on what this album will offer, namely heavy riffs, expressive vocals that will make your hair stand on end, catchy melodies, a high-flying rhythm section and an exemplary production. The title, very striking, was chosen wisel, as ambassador of the album with a video clip showing well the new combo created by Zonder to propose a vision of metal different from what he could do so far.

The fans of Redemption or Fates Warning will find there the very emotional way of singing of Ray Alder and the changes of rhythm dear to the progressive fan. The sounds are also in the same vein but the structures of the tracks are more direct and the format of the titles will make the album more digestible for those that the progressive does not transport.

Very involved in the composition of the tracks, Marc Zonder willingly puts his instrument forward and shows off his immense talent, even if it means putting a little bit of it everywhere, even when it is not really necessary. A sin of pride easily forgivable considering the global quality of the whole. He gratifies us all the same of a capital performance with some moments of bravery as the intro of 'Run Away', to disgust any beginner to the drums, or the drum fills of 'The Machine Gunner'.

The tendency of the album is to a rather accessible melodic hard rock on which the titles follow one another skillfully. The slower tracks are well distributed to give a homogeneous global impression. Thus, the ballad 'Rise Again' is well surrounded with a percussive 'Machine Gunner' and the very melodic mid-tempo 'Witches Panes' which follows it. The other atmospheric track, 'Stranded', with its introduction reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's "So" period orchestrations and its haunting tempo, is another interesting curiosity. The second half of the album is full of hybrid tracks mixing ethereal ambiences, to highlight Alder's vocals, and more percussive instrumental parts in an intelligent mix.

Certainly "A-Z", the album, doesn't revolutionize the genre, but it offers a great polymorphic metal at the crossroads between progressive metal and melodic hard rock, a choice probably dictated by the desire to reach a wide audience. The listening pleasure is immense, as well as the one to hear these great musicians working outside their comfort zone, even if we are not very far from it. A-Z is a percussive and melodic formation, with a bright future, and which will please all the melodic metal fans and other Ray Alder lovers as his charisma floods the album.
- Official website

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 (Bonus Track)

Joop Wolters: Guitares
Mark Zonder: Batterie
Philip Bynoe: Basse
Ray Alder: Chant
Vivien Lalu: Claviers
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(3) COMMENT(S)    
Toto trépasse et la testostérone reste
Non après une écoute un peu plus poussée on est loin de Toto quand même... C'est beaucoup plus chargé et beaucoup plus démonstratif... Ca reste excellent...
Belle découverte ! A-Z pourrait presque passer pour un toto sous testostérone...
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A-Z: New video
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