A curious album this one. Not only for its rarity (as far I know only released in Japan) but for the mixture of styles, yet turning out a consistent and homogeneous piece.
LEE Z is the brainchild of german multi-instrumentalist Thomas Zink, and has been active since 1988 with several line-up changes.
"Time Line" is their 2nd album, and as said, features a captivating mix of Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, AOR and Progressive.
But their prog pedigree isn't in the classical vein, the approach is more melodic and personal, with emphasis into the songs structures rather than going all over the place with jam sessions and solos, where the staccato riffs and key changes are encompassed with the tune and the use of keyboard layers adds color and substance.
Don't be fooled by the neoclassical style of opener "Up To The Sky". This is the only track in this style here. And a good one. The double drum attack is in your face, the guitars trepidating and the swirling keys are all over. Think classic '80s Yngwie.
Then "Way Of Live" is a syncopated and melodic midtempo rocker in the Queensryche style circa 'Rage For Order'.
The orchestral keyboard intro of "Fancy Dress Ball" turns into a climatic european melodic hard rocker plenty of key changes and big keyboards.
"Hands Of Touch" is a moody slow paced AOR track with a nice, catchy refrain. Great vocal arrangement here.
The programmed drums of "Try To Find My Way" don't bother at all, as this is a very commercial 'let's sing together' tune with clean guitars that sounds very 'british'.
"Hold On" is a keyboard driven melodic rock, with lots, lots of keys. Maybe the chorus is a bit weak, but the pace of the track rocks.
Now the band offers, again, something different. "Getting Older" is an instrumental featuring a really good guitar work, not boring at all.
Are you waiting for a ballad? "Sad Paradise" arrives... but not your typical one. Starts with a long, climatic keyboard/vocal passage and a 8/8 drum pattern (really uncommon) and then explodes into a passionate legitimate power ballad with a guitar solo inspired by Gary Moore.
"Don't Wanna Loose My Mind" returns to the melodic rock territory. The catchy, hooky chorus is the 'leitmotiv' of this track. But the band, again, is far to wrote-by-numbers. The middle section features a pace change that reminds me the group Fates Warning, and then returns to the chorus. This kind of arrangements is not easy to do warmly, but on Lee Z's hands this comes flawlessly.
Final track "One Night Love Affair" is another winner. A very british AOR midtempo similar to SHY. Great guitar solo and keyboards.
"Time Line" is a great album, much better than you can appreciate at first listen. It's clever, varied, well written.
First rate musicianship, the arrangements are uncommon and very entertaining, and production is really good considering its indie origin.
Try Lee Z. Try something different.
01 - Up To The Sky
02 - Way Of Live
03 - Fancy Dress Ball
04 - Hands Of Touch
05 - Try To Find My Way
06 - Hold On
07 - Getting Older
08 - Sad Paradise
09 - Don't Wanna Loose My Mind
10 - One Night Love Affair
Peter Pauliks : Vocals
Thomas Zink : Guitars, Keyboards, Synths, Piano
Matthias 'Rethi' Rethmann : Bass, Programming
Andreas Guth: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Gerald Voss : Drums