ARZ - Turn Of The Tide,
ARZ is a duo from Portland, Oregon, comprising guitarist/singer Steve Adams and drummer Merrill Hale. Steve and Merrill cemented their relationship after meeting while they were members of a Yes tribute band called All Good People. ARZ was originally the name used by Steve as a one-man band where he recorded all instruments himself, and he then brought in Merrill to assist with the fourth album, ‘Solomon’s Key’. After that album he and Merrill decided that they wanted to record an album where the could perform it live, and they devised a way of doing this using MIDI and samples etc but after some feedback from fans they decide instead to record the best album that they could and not worry about the live part just yet. So back into the studio they went and created an album that can only be described as majestic.
Merrill is a great drummer who cites Barriemore Barlow and Danny Carey as his major influences, but given the way that he hits those skins and drives the music along it is fairly obvious that he has been listening to Portnoy a great deal and his touch also reminds one of Palmer. But he never overpowers Steve, but provides him with an incredible foundation that allows him to build and build with multi-layered riffs and keyboards or sometimes just simple chords and melodic vocals, whatever is right for the moment. This is modern progressive music that is immediate, structured and climactic. It has the complexity, yet somehow maintains a simplicity and naivety that draws the listener in every time. As I said before, this is majestic, in every way.