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XYZ - 2003 Letter To God

Terry Ilous - vocals
Jeff Northrup - guitars, percussion
Paul Monroe - drums
Sean MacNabb - bass

Yes, if you hadn't realised, XYZ are back. We've had Hurricane, Hardline, Unruly Child and Autograph rekindling their rocking spirit in recent times, albeit in different forms and to varying degrees of success. Add the last letters of rock to that list. Though not completely unrecognisable, the XYZ of 2003 has had some new letters added in the form of guitarist Jeff Northrup (Steffanie, King Kobra) and bassist Sean MacNabb (Quiet Riot, Great White). Despite guitarist Mark Diglio having departed, he did co-wrote several tunes. With new personnel you would expect a change in musical direction, along with a few years since the last album, and that's just what has happened. XYZ are still a hard rocking band but heavier, modern and, at the same time, a little retro. There's a lot less, if any, of the flashy 80's LA metal overtones that got them recognised back in the good old days. Terry Ilous sounds pretty much as he did but a little more reserved. The material doesn't warrant him going for the really high notes as it did before.

The Songs
You get a good sense of where the band is musically today with a reworking of the song 'Inside Out' from the debut. What a difference. The riff is now performed acoustically and the result has the track sounding more 70's, like Free. I prefer the original as it kicked as then and still kicks ass today. Jeff Northrup's riffs are darker and heavier than Mark Diglio's. In particular tracks such as 'Tango' (dedicated to Terry's late son) and 'United' have punishing, modern hard rock riffs. Retro meets modern on 'Touch The Sky', while 'Burn It Up' is the closest you'll find to previous material. The new XYZ deliver a couple of very good tracks, but 'Letter To God' is by no means a spectacular return to form for XYZ. They didn't want it that way and it's not what they are about these days.

In Summary
The band was after a more back-to-basics approach that was relevant in today's musical world. That may be its downfall, as it doesn't quite fit into either pure melodic hard rock or todays breed of hard rock. With 80's and 90's hard rock bands such as XYZ releasing product in the present musical climate, you ask the questions, 'Will it satisfy the purists?' There's a fair chance it won't. 'Will it attract new fans'? Maybe, but that will depend on whether they can get it to the masses. Unfortunately that's not likely. 'Letter To God' is a fairly good album and that may be where the story ends.

Track Time: 51:47

Track Listing:
01 What's On Your Mind
02 Letter To God
03 Deny
04 Touch The Sky
05 Rainy Day
06 Tango
07 All I'm Asking
08 Burn It Up
09 Inside Out (2003)
10 What Keeps Me Loving You (2003)
11 Tell Me
12 United

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