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Arz - Turn Of The Tide CD (album) cover

TURN OF THE TIDE

Arz

Crossover Prog


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4 stars Yesterday I saw this cover in the new releases and thought 'This kind of reminds me of Jon Anderson's "Olias of Sunhillow" cover', so I decided to investigate? Imagine my surprise to find that these guys were in a Yes tribute band and I was even more intrigued?

Then, upon seeing that this project had had no reviews here on PA (until today), I decided to take it upon myself to investigate their website, and after seeing a video of these two performing "Birth of a Hero" I decided to check out their latest; "Turn of the Tide". Am I ever glad I did!!!

This is a two man project, but they sound as though they were a five piece band indeed! There is of course the novelty of knowing that what you're hearing is just two men, but it is so easy with the strength of this material to get well past the novelty pretty quickly. The fact is that these guys have crafted a very full sounding, solid, enjoyable album!

Due to the fact that I'm pressed for time (sorry about that), I'm not going to try to do a track by track review.

But I will say that if you're a fan of Rush, Yes, ELP, Arena, etc., with a dose of modern Prog Metal thrown in to balance the mix, I think you will seriously enjoy this album. You'll find that Steve Adams is a more than competent guitarist/multi-instrumentalist as well as a very strong singer in his own right. And that Merrill Hale would appear to be the perfect foil and complementary player to Mr. Adams. These guys are exceptionally capable and have really left me impressed with their playing, singing and songwriting abilities.

After a couple of listening sessions, I cannot pick a standout track (Well, maybe Twilight) as this material is so well balanced overall. I have not found one "duff", filler song on this effort.

This is MAJESTIC, full-bodied Heavy Prog with awesome touches of Symphonic Prog and Progressive Metal to round out the mix.

This is another review that I intend to revisit and do due justice to in the near future? But I thought that you all might want a first impression. Here's mine: This is going to be a band to be reckoned with in the near future, catch onto them NOW before everyone else does, so you can be the first on your block to say "I thought these guys were awesome way back in?" Trust me, this is an awesome album!!! Of course as always, your actual mileage may vary, but I'm giving this at least Four plus stars?

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Send comments to Cylli Kat (BETA) | Report this review (#585295)
Posted Friday, December 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Difficult to classify this band in a genre, but one thing is clear in my mind is that their music is of high caliber. The music style cover a lot of grounds, prog metal or heavy prog, AOR, and symphonic. We can hear diverse influences such as Saga, Enchant, ELP and Yes. Also there is a little folks passages to fit with their electric output. There is some direct and accessible songs along with more long and complex songs with some nice tempo changes. The musicianship is solid with only 2 musicians! There is some nice keyboards parts and a solid rhythm section.

During this 70 minutes cd, there is no weak tracks. This is music that will appeal to a lot of prog fans, especially for those who enjoy bands already mentioned above. This is retro prog with a modern sound and a good production.

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Send comments to rdtprog (BETA) | Report this review (#588615)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars ARZ is a progressive rock band from Portland. They just came out with a new album called Turn of the Tide. I really like the entire album, and I think it's one of my favorite albums from 2011. The range of songs on the album is quite wide, from instrumental pieces such as ARZ Nova and Lost Lake, to some songs that are metal tinged, to symphonic prog. My favorite songs are Birth of a Hero, and To the Better Man. My son loves the syncopated introduction in To the Better Man, and he always dances to it, which is hilarious. And I enjoy Birth of a Hero because I like the guitar work in it, and I think it's Steve's strongest vocal performance on the album. ARZ Nova starts off the album, and is a brief instrumental song that makes a nice and easy introduction to the whole album. Birth of a Hero has a cool acoustic guitar intro, and is a kick ass song. I love the lyrics on it, this excerpt applies to my life: Welcome to the office world, filled with petty tyrants and rules Push a paper and a pen, to the big "man" we're just fools One day I saw his shadow loom, a towering nemesis I looked up at him, and he at me, I said "taste my fist"

What was I to do? What should I have said? I was taught to get along So I kicked his ass instead

I am back, I am just I am right, I am a hero I defend those who cannot fight back I am their hero

Shadow on the Wall is a very moving song. Hope and Glory is an epic story, with lots of very interesting varied parts in it. My Friend is a well crafted song with strong vocals and storyline. Twilight is also an excellent song, probably my third favorite. All in all, I think that this is an excellent album, very well produced, and with expressive musical performances.

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Send comments to karenprog (BETA) | Report this review (#589394)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album Turn of the Tide is wonderful, and I really enjoy listening to it. Plus the fact that my son and his friend is on it. I'm not biased! :) I've listened to it multiple times, and I hear something new every time I listen to it. I have 3 favorites: ARZ Nova. This is a good introduction to the album. Hope and Glory is wonderful, awesome. Turn of the Tide is really powerful. And Twilight is really great as well. But the whole album is wonderful. When you buy an album, there are some songs on it that are great, and others that are so so. But this whole album is wonderful, and there are no weak songs in it. I was riding my incumbent bike this morning and listening to ARZ, and I rode 6 miles without realizing it, and that was because I was really intently listening to the music. It's a very captivating album. I hope that other people will enjoy this album as much as I do. I think that Steve and Merrill are very talented young men.

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Send comments to judyhale (BETA) | Report this review (#590165)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Turn of the Tide" is well-orchestrated music from this Portland Oregon band. It's hard to believe there are only 2 members in ARZ - they have a full, rich and upbeat sound.

The group fits well with the classic progressive rock bands of my youth like Moody Blues or Jethro Tull and the music is quite accessible. A 21 year old family member calls it "uplifting" and I can see this appealing to a wide audience.

I don't have a favorite cut yet - each time I think I've found one, the next one takes its place. The lyrics are thoughtful and meaningful and there are no "duds".

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Send comments to AnnaBanana (BETA) | Report this review (#604365)
Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have had the pleasure of seeing ARZ live 3 times. If you close your eyes and take in the awesome musical experience, you will be amazed that there are only two members of this band! They have so much depth to their talent and I truly love the music they produce.

I have to admit that I am a prog rock newbie, but ARZ has made me have a really great appreciation for this genre of music. "Turn of the Tide" is a very well put together album. I enjoyed the short intro because it gave me a taste of what was to come. There is a good balance between fast and slow songs and I enjoyed every single one of them. My faves are "Birth of a Hero" and "Lost Lake". I really look forward to their next album!!

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Send comments to skane (BETA) | Report this review (#605743)
Posted Sunday, January 08, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am familiar with Steve Adams' and Merrill Hale's work. Both are very accomplished musicians in the Portland, Oregon Metro area. Turn of the Tide is an album that requires more than one listening. It is not your background housecleaning music. Overall it is a beautiful representation of the "rites of passage" one discovers and enters while on this road we call life. It captures the tenacity of honor, vision, conviction, purpose, and yearnings with a heavy dose of justice. The voicings of guitar, vocals, drums and textures invite me to peek into someone's "movie". It is there I am able to reflect on my own life and its archetypes all the while rendered masterfully. Open minded interaction is paramount or you will miss the nuances.

I hear the musical influences of: Yes (especially their earlier works), Alice Cooper (ballads and storytelling), Moody Blues (for their journeying), Queen (for their convictions and anthem)...add a little dash of World Music from India, Asia, Ireland and Persia while combining Jazz infused Classical and you can kind of feel those places. The experimental rock approach to these voicings definitely classifies ARZ entirely on its own. It is an Epic Experience only The ARZ Universe can produce.

The website gives you glimpses of Steve and Merrill's brilliance. The Artwork done by Merrill Hale is splendid. Their work is very visual, not only in the packaging, but the music as well. Each Rune takes you to a new place with a new feeling to be felt or discovered. It is obvious the labor intensive work makes this from an artist's sense, museum quality.

My favorite is Twilight, though I love Shadow on the Wall, My Friend, and Lost Lake. I love the conviction of Birth of a Hero and My Friend's lyrics. The entire album with it's gorgeous guitar work, keys, drums and textures brings the listener full circle. The Tide Has Turned is an adventure all on its own depicting the internal battles one goes through when going through a rite of passage. I get the authenticity of agony, sorrow, venegance, promises, oaths, honor and resolve.

I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves a story, who loves masterful musicians, loves experimental sounds and for the passionate. For a Progressive Rocker, this is a must have.

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Send comments to tinasmarie (BETA) | Report this review (#605851)
Posted Monday, January 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well where do i begin.. 1st thing i am NOT a writer by any stretch of even my imagination. But i can tell you this much i know what my ears like. I 1st found ARZ while bouncing around on MySpace looking for new prog music to enjoy. And while at 1st listen i wasn't really sure what to make of this duo; i knew that i had to make contact with Steve Adams. Btw ARZ is Steve Adams and Merrill Hale from Portland Oregon. Steve is the guitar Player extraordinaire and "M" as i like to call him is a drummer of a unique skill set. There was just "something" about this sound. So it began, a semi stalking of Steve Adams sending emails back and forth making comments in regards to tracks posted on my space. As i listened more and more i enjoyed more and more. He had sent me a few cds to listen to. I was hooked.it was a full sounding prog band certainly to my ears which are not trained by anyone or anything other than an old pioneer receiver and PR of cerwin vegas that are probably older then my oldest daughter who s 27 yrs old. As time passed i made certain that i would try me hardest to establish constant contact with various websites and college radio stations to give this band some airplay. I really felt they deserved to be discovered. Time passes by and both members join up with Lisa Larue on a few of her terrific releases. I knew it wouldn't be long now before someone stood up and recognized this band. Turn Of The Tide is finally available. 9 tracks of versatile and unique playing that drive me crazy. At one point its symphonic prog and just when you think you have it narrowed down along comes something powerful and heavy like hope and glory. So much for symphonic prog. So it's now become progressive metal. This is the style and skill set of this duo. The 1st track Arz Nova is the perfect start for this cd, a bombastic little number that tells you to listen to the whole cd before placing judgment. Then comes birth of a hero which take you yet for another ride. A song that pretty much sends a message that "i have had enough". we al have our own ideas of what songs are about which may or may not be the same as what the lyricist has in mind when he writes them down on a diners placemat or at his desk. This is how i see Shadow On The Wall. it to me is about my own conscience, what i had in the past and what i have now and what i F'ed up in my life. This is one of my fav tracks on the cd. Hope and Glory comes next, an ambitious song to say the least with all kinds of twists and turns. With just about every type of prog element one can imagine. This is the "epic" track off the cd. A song about finding one's self thru ones own life within an ever changing world. A daunting task to say the least. i could go on and on with each track but won't bore you with my "findings" as we all have our own ideas and thoughts in regards to what a song means to each of us. I will go a bit further and say this band is heavily influenced by ELP and at some point you're just waiting for Greg Lake to start singing. It's not a replica of ELP mind you but the influence is obvious. The drumming is superb with thoughts of the "professor of the drum kit himself" (we rush fans know who this is) coming to mind. Steve is a very accomplished guitar player in his own right and stands among the best there is. As i had said form the start this is a band worth knowing NOW!! That being said go and buy TURN OF THE TIDE. Tell your friends tell all. ARZ IS A BAND THAT WILL BE ONE TO RECKON WITH!!!! After the self-released titles from either digital downloads or a freebie from the band the new release on the Unicorn Digital label will finally allow more to know ARZ. I am glad to be part of the ARZ "FAN CLUB" SO MUCH I HAD INKED MYSELF. This was done because I know once people hear the full sound of the 2 gents playing they will be around quite a long time. Maybe its time now to put "out to pasture my old Pioneer and Cerwin Vegas and get some Polk Audio Tsi200's and a new Pioneer. As far as my "star" ranking goes I cant with all honesty give this a "5". a "5" is for a masterpiece of prog in my opinion. and very few of those exist. But this is a very solid 4 and i again uege those who dont know ARZ to get to know the music by visiting their website, you tube and make the buy!. i have already started loking forward to a follow up cd and its just the beginning. Imagine if they would incorporate a full time keyboardist. This is just the start of the growth ARZ. Im sure the well runs deep folks!!!! ENJOY AND PROG ON!!!!

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Send comments to progrocks2112 (BETA) | Report this review (#607740)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The battlecruiser Arz opens fire.

Not a Hollywood movie, but an US band who has released a handful albums without really causing any ripples in the pond. This is their newest one and the waves are now hitting the shores.

Arz has created a hybrid between English symph prog and US power metal on Turn of the Tide. But the music is also very much based in the 500 years old form of classical music called cantus firmus. Listen to the songs and it is evident that the music on Turn of the Tide is primary in the cantus firmus vein.

Both the vocals and the instruments are competently delivered. The vocals are a bit over the top aka power metal, but OK.

The music are great throughout. There is no really brilliant songs here. But the best music is when Arz goes 500 years back in time and base their melody lines on the cantus firmus tradition. Something I would encourage them to do more. Forget the sometimes melodic, commercial nonsense from the 1990s they too much relies on. Go back to your roots, Arz.

This is a great album which requires a lot of from the listener. But it is also a very rewarding experience.

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#609642)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I quite stumbled across this album, and, with zero expectations, listened to it in a couple of sittings. Nothing particularily grabbed my attention. I rewaxened (my word, the art of relistening with the wax removed from your ears. Can be used with permission) a few days later and relalized this is a great piece of music. These two guys put together a full bands worth of sound. They also generate a delicate complexity that on the surface seems to be an ordinary piece of prog, but has distinct and thoughful progressions. I suspect this is why I initially let it pass over my ears and not through. Further, even though the music doesn't challenge your brain the way some progheads feel is required to be great prog, it does get your feet tapping and your emotions moving. Notable tunes are "Shadow On The Wall" and "Twighlight". Go get this disc, but make sure you rewaxen before listening.

4.2 stars

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Send comments to merid1en (BETA) | Report this review (#796344)
Posted Sunday, July 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars 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. www.unicornrecords.com

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#833714)
Posted Friday, October 05, 2012 | Review Permalink

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