The last Destiny’s Warning album, lukewarm 2020s long day good night may have marked the end of the band (pure speculation, frens), but the guys didn’t rest on their laurels. Watch This Summer Alone: Bassist Joey Vera Has Been On Tour For merciful destinyand Ray Alder and ex-drummer Mark Zonder release their straight metal album, A-Z, this week. Next month Jim Matheos is doing the same with his new band, Kings of Mercia. If you’re a longtime fan like me, this is exciting stuff! And the first punch is the Alder-Zonder collaboration, cleverly called A-Z (A-thru-Z), a play on both their names and the fact that they try to write songs across the full spectrum of heavy metal. Are they succeeding? Let’s find out!
In many ways yes, A-Z totally successful in writing killer heavy metal/hard rock material. Accompanied by Philip Bynoe (bassist of military leader and Steve Vai), French composer Vivien Lalu on keyboards and Lalu’s guitarist/solo artist Joop Walters, the band flexes its muscles on all eleven tracks. The opening trio of “Trial by Fire”, “The Far Side of the Horizon” and “The Machine Gunner” are superb metal tracks loaded with big guitars, explosive drum fills and hard-rocking vocals. These three tracks, each with their own unique redeeming qualities, can and should be on many metal playlists. While most of the tracks are rhythmic, the band also knows how to tone it down with the ballad “Rise Again” and the slow-burning “Stranded,” both of which are effective shifts and showcase the band’s diverse songwriting. capacities.
With the prog metal pedigree here, you’d expect this style to show up on occasion, but it really doesn’t. Restraint is essential everywhere A-Z, with the group displaying a high level of talent while controlling the overt noodles. Wolters drops a number of excellent guitar solos, and Zonder’s fills remain complex but not obtrusive. The key for A-ZThe success of isn’t the musical complexity, however; in fact, it’s the relatively simple yet effective arrangements combined with the classic and memorable vocal hooks that will keep listeners coming back. With Zonder producing the overall album and each member responsible for recording their own parts (members live in different countries), the songs sound great and the mix is aggressive and engaging.
Alder and Zonder both play on my favorite Destiny’s Warning album, the excellent but underrated Unplugged. On this album, Zonder’s drumming is absolutely stunning, and even here, in a more conventional format, he kills it. Whether it’s the subtle cowbell on the opener of “Trial By Fire,” Simmons’ drumming on “The Far Side of the Horizon,” or just his all-around killer groove, the man the has. And what about Ray Alder? He looked tired nine years ago Darkness under another light, but since then his voice has gotten louder and louder, and here he belts it hard, hitting every note and moaning perfectly. Her voice ages better than fine wine, and I love it. Throw in tasteful arrangements from Lalu, rock-solid bass from Bynoe and some stellar solos from Wolters and you’ve got a cohesive unit that fires on all cylinders.
I haven’t heard all the next ones yet Kings of Mercia album, but one wouldn’t be out of place wondering why Destiny’s Warning didn’t just release a metal album. As it stands, and assuming the Matheos project will also be of high quality, we will end up with two outstanding metal albums. A-Z set the bar high with this album, because there’s not a single song I’ve skipped once in the last month. There’s skill, variety, solid writing, and consistently strong performances throughout the 51 minutes. Top it all off with this amazing Hugh Syme cover and you have a hands down winner.
DR: 8 | Revised format: 320kbps mp3
Label: metal blade
Websites: a-zband.com | facebook.com/AthruZBand
Worldwide release: August 12, 2022