For his third album called "Enigma"
, (and the first one in collaboration with mighty Lance King
's Nightmare Records
) under his very own project AEON ZEN
, the artistically gifted Mr. Rich Hinks
, once again handles a lot of duties, as performing lead guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and some vocals, as well as been responsible of the writing and the sonic mixing & the production tasks. Progsters, Metalheads and generally Rock People: A big ovation and some hurras for such dedication. But most of all: A sublime & dazzling piece of impressive work. However, it's not only a one-man affair, on the opposite AEON ZEN
never sounded so much organic, coherent and finally very close to a traditional band.
In fact the real stars of this early 2013 highlight, are the brilliant bunch of amazingly, talented singers recruited by Rich
in his great cleverness, yet again, he managed to keep a strong continuity, by exploiting a magic trick where he crafted a share of the vocals parts, to keep the focus on the band identity and its own original temperament. Indeed, the Swedish ex-SEVENTH WONDER /
ex-VINDICTIV / SILENT CALL
's Andi Kravljaca
only official singer) and Jonny Tatum
), Atle Pettersen
(ABOVE SYMMETRY /
) or Nate Loosemore
(LOST IN THOUGHT
), are singing different lines in the same track, rather than weakening the integrity, scratching the varnished and the splendor of the musical convergence, it even clearly add some deepness to the whole.
Each young vocal protagonist belongs to the list of uprising personalities in the International Progressive Metal scene. Their respective bands are ranked very high in in the tomorrow’s hope top list and are truly estimated in the Metal community. Each singer is also capable of numerous prowess from high-pitched-Metal-screams-sibilance, to dark guttural grit, each vocalized department is covered even the operatic choir gimmick is intensely used. Confronting each voice timber with the other, is one of the favorite secret tool to build and preserve the surprise and the listeners attention, the multi-layered harmonies are also quite useful. Really a vocal music dominated album.
It's pretty obvious that this conceptual album was carefully assembled with passion and patience through by, AEON ZEN
's mastermind Rich Hinks
, as it the track-list flows very seamless from one cut to the next to fit perfectly the storyline with impressive precision throughout the record. The nine tracks concept behind "Enigma"
is utterly ambitious, but each song can actually be remembered alone and can stands by itself, it's comprised by a short atmospheric intro that is purely instrumental and eight sumptuous vocal tracks with moods ranging from mystic to radiant, from fresh orchestration to gloomy thrills, and many twists both in the musical direction but also in the tempos, plenty of weird ambiance, symphonic breathtaking arrangements and poignant changes with always a good balance between metallic density, melodic purity, energetic drums fills, shredding licks and progressive smart transparency.“Artificial Soul”
and mostly “Divinity”
are wonderful; it features some antagonist and totally bi-polarity divergence in the vocal style, with harsh growls along with the aforementioned operatic vocals. The low down-tuned stupendous “Turned To Ash”
and the advanced final track, “Downfall”
include some badass heavy chromatic riffage almost Thrashy. However, there are still songs, with some ethereal elements, Progressive Metal in the pure English pedigree and If you’re looking for something softer, tracks such as the delicate but short “Seven Hills”
s voice sounds like his compatriot, the ubiquity veteran, the almighty Goran Edman
or “Eternal Snow”
are working pretty well too, with a natural balanced, graduated and improved power yet contained with a wide range of dynamics. The syncopated sharp guitar theme of the first bonus track "Survival"
and the revamped version of "Time Divine
" of the 2009's "A Mind's Portrait"
are gifts for those who like me, bought the real thing, I mean the physical album in album.“Enigma”
, is a terrific accomplishment from the British AEON ZEN
, from now on their obvious new career reference, an highly intriguing and very entertaining progressive unit, a definitely awesome and fascinating Metal platter which is of course ultra-recommended.