Track Listing
What's On Your Mind (3)
Letter To God
Deny
Touch The Sky (2)
Rainy Days
Tango
All I'm Asking (1)
Burn It Up
Inside Out (2003)
What Keeps Me Loving You (2003)
Tell Me
United

(*) Best Tracks

Discography & (Rank)
XYZ (1)
Hungry (3)
Take What You Can...Live (4)
Letter To God (2)

Buy it if you liked:
XYZ
Cage
XYZ
Letter To God
MTM Music
Produced By: Terry Ilous & JK Northrup
Running Time: 51.46 Release Date: April 22
Released: EU Genre: Hard Rock
WebLink: Terry Ilous LabelLink: MTM
87%

XYZ are back after a several year hiatus. The good news is that the band are likely to continue on working, now featuring vocalist Terry Ilous, guitarist JK Northrup, bassist Sean McNabb and drummer Paul Monroe.
Letter To God features songs from a couple of different sources. Some were written especially for the album and a couple are previously unused XYZ tunes. In fact, 4 tracks come from original demo versions featured on the Take What You Can...Live album. All naturally, were freshly recorded for this album.
The line up has changed from the original, but Pat and Marc from the original line-up are featured in the song writing credits for several tracks. Terry and Jeff wrote the remaining tracks together.
Essentially this is a great album - but there could be some fans of the debut that find it has moved a little too far away from the band's original sound.
Letter To God is a very well recorded and produced album. The mix is crisp, sharp and loud. The performance is unquestionable also.
This is a guitarists album. Jeff Northrup's guitar is all over this album, with big chunky riffs and solos the driving force behind the music.
Then of course, there is Terry's unmistakable vocals. Sounding a fresh and powerful as ever, Terry's style in 2003 is more Robert Plant than the Don Dokken-esque sound of the classic debut album.
In fact, that's the most suitable reference for the whole album. The style is a generally a slower paced, heavy, Led Zeppelin retro-hard rock vibe, rather than the LA-metal style the debut was. That fact alone might turn some off, but the fact remains this is musically, a very strong album.
The one aspect that might be worth mentioning would be the need for some stronger choruses - or at least, some more instant choruses. But these songs don't lend themselves to that sort of delivery and on repeated listens the songs become more melodic and better understood. And therefore, more memorable.
Just take the two major ballads of the album Deny and the magic All I'm Asking. Pure melodic hard rock brilliance.
Elsewhere, the heavy rock vibe of Touch The Sky, Letter To God, Rainy Day and Tango carry plenty of melodies and in your face guitar riffs to please most fans of the band.
The inclusion of new versions of 2 classic cuts from the debut is interesting. Inside Out keeps the slower, heavier vibe of the new tracks, making it quite a change from the original. What Keeps Me Loving You is more stripped back and soulful, while remaining very updated.

The Bottom Line
And open mind is the best thing to take into listening to this album. There are no real weak tracks, but as said earlier, the style might not match everyone's taste's and expectations. The medium pace of the album and Jeff's more contemporary, darker, heavier guitar sound are two aspects that have helped bring XYZ into the new decade, but some may not welcome that.
I think most will find that this album rocks big time, although the issue of some more instantly catchy songs will remain for some.

Line Up
Terry Illous: Vocals
Jeff Northrup: Guitar
Paul Monroe: Drums
Sean McNabb: Bass

Additional Ratings
Songwriting
84%
Attitude
89%
Production
90%

Music Buy Mail AOR Heaven NEH Records Z-Roxx Loud 1 Rock Shop Target Wishing Well Loud Metal Rock Rarities


25/06/04: Guillermo - guillerperez@usuariosretecal.es
Rating: 60
un album que me decepciono cuando lo compre y que luego no he escuchado demasiado.Las canciones me parecen demasiado oscuras no es un buen disco de hard-aor como cabria esperar.

12/03/04: Jon - jonjuanthedude@yahoo.com
Rating: 80
I thought this was a pretty good album. Not a classic, but good. I think that they did a better job of retaining a classic metal style while updating their sound than most bands. At least they still have guitar solos...almost a lost art.

28/08/03: dan colwell - dckc2793@aol.com
Rating: 50
I really liked xyz back in the early 90's I really try to like this cd. I listen to it several times,But it doesn't work for me

13/07/03: Nicodim - nicodim-r@mail.ru
Rating: 60
There was a great band in the early 90's. It called XYZ. 2 wonderful albums, especially 1st one (it sounded fuckin' GREAT!). Years of the hiatus affected badly on Terry... I've read a lot of reviews about "Letter..." And, of course, expected to hear something incredible, when I finally purchased it. So, what do I have now? Average songs, no graceful hits at all. Really, the best tracks of that release are "What Keeps..." & "Inside Out". Though, new versions still yield to the original ones - absolutely. Obviously, I expected something different of what I've seen. Why? Because there are three awesome musicians in the band now - the great songwriter & singer Terry Illous, the great white :-) bass-player Sean McNabb (one of the best on modern scene) and, finally, famouse axeman JK Northrup. So, it's a big disappointment for me in the end...

07/05/03: scott - admin@holcombmail.com
Rating: 96
Strong, well-written tracks from start to finish. The updated versions of 'Inside Out' and 'What Keeps Me...' are refreshingly current, while still remaining true to the originals. A great combination of the orignal lineups' polish with today's gritty rock feel. Bound to be a pleasant surprise to the open-minded rock fan!

19/04/03: scott - saurisch@esk.qld.gov.au
Rating: 93
When I first heard XYZ were to deliver a new album in 2003 I was initially excited, then I wondered, "How can it even get close to 'Hungry'?" I place 'Hungry' in my Top 20 all-time best hard rock albums. With Mark Diglio in full flight, this album was a major riff-fest. Ably led by the unmistakable voice of Terry Illous, XYZ were a powerful unit whose music was anthemic and laden with hooks.

Now they return in 2003 after a 12 year gap between albums. What can we expect this time around? When I first heard the album title, I was skeptical until I heard of the tragic circumstances behind it. I thought, perhaps selfishly, that because of this personal turmoil, we might be presented with a darker, more serious offering.

So what did we get? Well, firstly let me say that I like this album a lot, but this is not the XYZ of old. If you have your heart set on the 'Hungry' of the new millenium, you will be disappointed. However, if you can approach this album with an open mind you will be duly rewarded.

'Letter To God' is a heavy modern rock album that is both well written and played. It contains enough trademark elements to appeal to old school fans but it is also a major step forward. Given the diverse range of projects Terry and other contributing band members have been involved in since 'Hungry', it stands to reason that this release demonstrates a significant musical progression.

Initially I was dubious about the absence of Mark Diglio (although he did co-write several tunes), with JK Northrup stepping in to replace him. Now Northrup can shred with the best of them, I just felt that Mark's playing suited XYZ so perfectly that it couldn't be matched. So what's the verdict? Well 'Letter To God' is certainly an album full of heavy guitars and several scorching solos (e.g. 'Touch The Sky' - awesome!), but it is still too early to pass final judgement. Anyway, constantly drawing comparisons with an artist's previous work can take a lot of potential enjoyment away from listening. The fact is, this is a great album in its own right and will be best appreciated if viewed that way.

From the brilliant opening track 'I Know What's On Your Mind' (the track most closely resembling the XYZ of the early 90's), to the vented anger of album closer 'United', this album runs the gamut of emotions. The passionate vocals and beautiful music of 'All I'm Asking' have a haunting quality that will pull the heart strings of even the hardest of rockers if given the chance.

Even the updated versions of XYZ's first 2 singles 'Inside Out' and 'What Keeps Me Loving You' are worthy inclusions. They have a freshness to them that should keep fans who already own the originals from hitting the skip button. They will also act as a link for new listeners to the band's earlier work.

In summary, this is a fantastic album. It is different to what I expected, but in this case that is a good thing. The production is of a very high standard, giving all band members room to shine. As always, drummer Paul Monroe provides a rock solid platform and is ably supported by Sean McNabb on bass. This is one album that gets better with every listen. Welcome back!!


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