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Aeon Zen

Progressive Metal

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Aeon Zen Enigma album cover
3.76 | 55 ratings | 4 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Enter the Enigma (3:03)
2. Artificial Soul (5:55)
3. Divinity (4:04)
4. Seven Hills (3:38)
5. Warning (7:06)
6. Turned to Ash (4:30)
7. Still Human (5:03)
8. Eternal Snow (6:17)
9. Downfall (7:03)

Total Time 46:39

Bonus track on CD:
10. Survival (5:15)
11. Time Divine 2.0 (4:44)

Line-up / Musicians

- Andi Kravljaca / vocals
- Richard Hinks / guitar, keyboards, alto saxophone, bass, drums, vocals, production & mixing
- Matt Shepherd / guitar
- Shaz / keyboards
- Steve Burton / drums

- Nate Loosemore / vocals
- Atle Pettersen / vocals
- Jonny Tatum / vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Mattias Norén

CD Time Divide Records ‎- TDR0912001CD (2012, UK)

Digital album

Thanks to black_diamond for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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AEON ZEN Enigma ratings distribution

(55 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

AEON ZEN Enigma reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rivertree
4 stars AEON ZEN are from the UK, headed by multi-instrumentalist Rich Hinks. This time - in contrast to the former albums - it looks like that he has formed a real band for the recordings, and the live performances in the same way. Two years in the making 'Enigma' turns out to be an ambitious workout. Initially released on the band's own label Time Divide Records in 2012, this effort was adopted by famous metal label Nightmare Records recently - a praise per se - and will be out at the end of January 2013. My writing is based on a promo download actually, not the physical CD which additionally includes two bonus tracks.

The promo sheet references several bands from the tech/extreme and melodic prog metal front, to name Dream Theater, Symphony X and Cynic or Between The Buried And Me for example. That suits in some way, no question - but Aeon Zen are Aeon Zen, not a copy-cat band. Stylistically a proper bandwith is to state while comprising crashing eruptions and growls in the same way as haunting ballad-esque moments. Those parts where they turn into a more experimental direction - though definitely being in the minority - do not affect me too much, I'm more at home on the melodic prog metal playground here, to make it clear.

The short opener Enter The Enigma - literally meant of course - arises from an orchestral synth arrangement where Artificial Soul - among other things - shines with great vocal management, safe to say, for the benefit of agressive and enchanting voices which compete and complement here. That said, I mean it was worthwhile really to invite some additional singer ... well, not intending to downplay Andi Kravljaca's role as the main vocalist of course. Also considering some excellent song-writing qualities and extraordinary sense of melody this is the album's highlight definitely. The following Divinity goes wild then apparently, sinister growls included.

Like 'Anna Lee', known from DT's 'Falling Into Infinity', Seven Hills immediately follows as a charming ballad with pop appeal, yeah really! This by now makes it clear, here we have an achievement that presents great variety, many metalheads - no matter which subgenre they prefer - will find something which appeals, I'm sure. The entry of keyboarder Shaz seems to be a great benefit overall. Due to piano excursions as well as orchestral string implementation, the keys are partially rather symphonically tinted. Expectedly the guitars are playfully appointed - shredding here and empathic there like to experience at the very start on Warning for example. Turned To Ash unfolds to a really tricky song after a while.

Some pieces are skillfully placed with repetition on this album ... 'Rising And Falling From The Ashes' ... which leads to some appealing recognition value ... and even sing along yearning after a while. Let me also mention Eternal Snow which shows an excellent flow (huch, some particular rhyme here). where the nicely arranged vocals, inclusive growls, once again attract attention. 'Enigma' is a fine new album by AEON ZEN which grows with every round. Great variety to state, though far away from any patchwork attitude this sounds completely rounded. Even some saxophone contributions are successfully implemented within two songs. So this deserves 4 stars now finally.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Enigma' - Aeon Zen (9/10)

In 2009, a band called Aeon Zen came out with "A Mind's Portrait", an album that, while rooted in what detractors may call 'Dream Theater clone territory'- was impressive enough to put them on the radar for those who heard it. Alongside bands like Haken and To-Mera, Aeon Zen are at the forefront of a British wave to revitalize the progressive metal style into something fresh, exciting and relevant. In what is undoubtedly the band's most consistent work to date, "Enigma" lives up to the promise of their debut. Although they have not yet broken free from the shackles of the progressive metal old guard, Aeon Zen's fantastic blend of musicianship and composition sees them flying leagues above much of what the genre has recently produced. Progressive metallers take note- this is one of the most impressive albums bound to come out this year.

Aeon Zen are part of what I might call (without wanting to sound too clichéd or the least bit pretentious) part of the New Wave of British Progressive Metal. If you've heard the way Haken or Threshold seamlessly blend melody with technical flair, Aeon Zen aren't too far off. Led by multi-instrumentalist Rich Hinks, Aeon Zen are a firm indicator of where the scene is at. The infamously overused conventions of Dream Theater have their place in Aeon Zen's sound, but there is a great attention paid to what's been happening since then. If you look past the breathtaking musical flow, melodies and spacious production, the band's capacity to mix so many sounds together may be their most impressive trait. "Enter the Enigma" is a very fitting overture for the album, seamlessly flowing from the rhythmic pulse of 'djent', to symphonic metal and progressive synth arrangements. From there on, the album flows as would a single forty-five minute epic. Although the Kamelot-esque "Artificial Soul" and single-worthy "Divinity" both function quite well on their own as self-contained pieces, "Enigma" is graced with a number of pleasantly recurring themes and a near-perfect sense of flow.

Aeon Zen also take care to acknowledge the more extreme side of metal that has played such an important role in prog in recent years. When "Divinity" isn't conjuring the cinematic quality of symphonic metal, it is basking in technical death metal territory, although the growls come and ago fairly quickly, so as not to put off the less-acclimated listeners. The album's most triumphant moment comes with "Warning", a slow build up that gives a not- so-subtle nod to the style of a Mr. Devin Townsend. Complete with wall-of-sound production and a soaring lead melody, it's difficult not to think of Townsend's "Terria" or "Synchestra" when hearing it. These nods to the styles of other bands certainly don't end with that either. "Divinity" features a chug and pick slide straight out of the Gojira canon, and there's a guitar solo on the album that I could swear I've heard to some extent before on a Blind Guardian album. Add in some overt Between the Buried and Me influences, and you have a a molten pot of progressive metal with something to offer to virtually every fan of the genre. Most times, I would accuse a band so closely emulating the styles of others of unoriginality at best (or plagiarism at worst), but in the case of Aeon Zen, the way all of these different sounds come together is something in itself. While they may not win any prizes for uniqueness with "Enigma", the composition is what gives the album wings. I would have had doubts if I had heard so many sounds within prog metal could come together into something half-decent. In Aeon Zen's case, they've gone much farther; although the year is young, I'm not sure 2013 will produce another album with such a solid flow.

Lyrically, Aeon Zen do not excel nearly as much as they do on the musical end. Although there is the vague impression of a concept tying the record together, "Enigma" follows a tired trend of modern progressive albums aiming for a more abstract sense of narrative. Although this 'idea-over-action' style of revealing a concept may have worked well for To- Mera last year on "Exile", Aeon Zen do not have the same such luck. Simply said, the lyrics on "Enigma" do not feel particularly relevant, instead feeding off of the genre's 'thinking man' clichés. Fortunately, the vocal standard is held to an incredibly high standard throughout the album. Andi Kravljaca is one of the modern progressive metal scene's most impressive singers, and the inclusion of other singers (most notably Atte Pettersen of Above Symmetry and Rich himself) gives the album a greater vocal range, although none of them sound wildly different from one another. In the end however, Aeon Zen is a band all about the guitar, and reverence of the progressive riff. Despite his youth, Rich Hinks is a monster with the guitar. Contrary to many youngblood virtuosos, Rich's talent with the instrument is multi- faceted; although he is very likely to impress you with his burstfire lead playing, he is just as skilled with the rhythms, and mellower end of his playing. The musicianship is excellent throughout, with Steve Burton's dynamic drumwork standing out alongside Rich for his richly dramatic performance.

In short, "Enigma" is a satisfying progressive metal epic that trims off alot of its genre's fat without losing any of the magic. Really, it was the sense of bombast-for-bombast's-sake that had prog metal floating in rough water for some time. Although Aeon Zen are still well- rooted in the sounds of many of the more innovative prog metal acts, it's rare that I get such a satisfying impression from an album. Originality regardless, "Enigma" is a near-perfect mesh of thoughtful riffs, dynamic musicianship and conscious homages to their influences. Especially considering the band's relative youth, I think we can only expect greater things from them in the future.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
3 stars I honestly don't know a thing about Aeon Zen. My fellow writer at wrote a glorious review of their new album "Enigma", and he gave it accolades to spare. Obviously, I had to give it a listen.

The first thing that came to mind when I heard this album was how uninspired it seems. Sure, you've got the standard metal riffs, the orchestration, the growling and (*shudder*) James Labrie-wanna-be vox, and the speedy drums. But, you know what? I'm tired of that. Those things are only interesting if the composition, themes, and lyrics are interesting, too. "Engima", however, doesn't really hit that mark with me. It seems like a bunch of riffing and boring orchestration smashed into a vacuum. No soul. No emotion.

Sure, there are some great moments and songs, and there are some truly groovy moments; but I don't feel like they save anything. This is just standard prog metal that embraces the technical side of prog, but not the soul of prog. Dream Theater? Symphony X? Etc? Etc? Etc? They have all gone stale. I want something original. Something emotive. Something inspired. I want something that is truly progressive.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
4 stars Aeon Zen's "Enigma" has enough progressive metal to satiate the palate of respective headbangers and yet retains some very melodic songs with exceptional singing. At times the band launch into full blown death metal complete with deep devilish growls on 'Divinity', 'Eternal Snow' or 'Downfall', but they mainly opt for the Dream Theater style of keyboard drenched melodies with metal blasts and crystal clear vocals such as on 'Artificial Soul'. The softer side of the group is a delight and can be heard on the dreamy 'Seven Hills', that has a wonderful synth trumpet sound and multilayered harmonies.

Rich Hinks on guitar and bass has exceptional style as does fellow guitarist Matt Shephard. Andi Kravljaca handles the vocals well and there are some excellent drum figures at the hands of Steve Burton. Shaz is fabulous on keyboards, and often lends a rather ambient atmosphere in tracks such as the instrumental opener 'Enter the Enigma' and the intro of 'Warning'. This latter track also has a dense distorted metal riff that locks in and the melody and style reminded me of a Devin Townsend song. There are some nice sax tones heard on 'Downfall' that break up the frenetic metal blastbeats, and the vocals are always appealing and especially the killer lead guitar frenzies such as on 'Eternal Snow' or 'Still Human'.

Overall this is a great album, that will appeal to prog metal addicts, especially those who prefer the melodic side similar to Threshold, Haken, or Dream Theater.

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