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Aeon Zen - 'The Face Of The Unknown' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 14, 2010    
 
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If you like your music varied, inventive and well played then pick up a copy of 'The Face Of The Unknown', you won't regret it.

A new name to me, Aeon Zen are the brainchild of Rich Hinks, a talented 21 year old multi-instrumentalist from Cambridge. Following on from last year’s debut release ‘A Mind’s Portrait’, this time around Hinks has enlisted the services of an impressive array of guest lead vocalists and has made an intriguing album that runs the gamut from tuneful and melodic progressive rock to full on technical metal, and all points inbetween.

I guess the first thing to say is that although Hinks is responsible for virtually all the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and some lead vocals, as well as writing, producing, mixing and mastering, please don’t assume that ‘The Face Of The Unknown’ sounds like a half-baked demo recorded in his bedroom by a kid whose ideas are bigger than his ability. He’s undoubtedly ambitious but the playing is of a very high standard, and if he has a weakness, even the most hardcore progressive rock and metal buff would be hard-pressed to spot it. Well, actually he does have a weakness but it’s one he’s only too aware of and realises that his clean and clear voice wouldn’t suit the heavier material, hence the guest vocalists.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Kicking off with the multiple time changes and infectious riffs of the ten minute ‘Salvation’, the song ebbs and flows between simple and tuneful sections and tricky ensemble playing, and who better to sing it than the excellent Michael Eriksen from Circus Maximus, whose voice soars and dips through different sections that work well together and never lose sight of the main goal. Eriksen also wraps his tonsils around ‘ The Heart Of The Sun’, another tour-de-force with many memorable parts and excellent solos. Silent Call singer Andy Kravljaca (who’s also the singer for Aeon Zen’s live band) is also impressive on the powerful title track and the insistent ‘Visions’, which despite being the shortest track on offer is still jam-packed with clever melodic playing and quirky musical ideas. I’m not really as keen on the voice of Jonny Tatum but both ‘My Sacrifice’ and ‘Redemption’s Shadow’ are strong pieces anyway, and Rich himself sings the relatively simple ‘You’re Not Alone’ and the impressively orchestral ‘Start Over’, while Frost* singer Jem Godfrey injects a little grit into the snappy ‘Natural Selection’.

My own personal highlight is ‘Crystal Skies’, a beautifully melodic and almost traditional progressive rock song with many catchy guitar and keyboard parts. The track hints at both Spock’s Beard and Shadow Gallery and has a great vocal from the former’s Nick D’Virgilio and is one that I never tire of listening to. The album is a very strong statement from start to finish with a powerful and clear sound, so if you like your music varied, inventive and well played then pick up a copy of ‘The Face Of The Unknown’. You won’t regret it.

Phil Ashcroft

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