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AZTEC JADE

Progressive Metal • United States


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Aztec Jade biography
AZTEC JADE are a prog metal band from Albany, N.Y., who combine the heavy style of DREAM THEATER with the melodic hooks of RUSH, ASIA and SAGA. The vocals of Leon Ozug (a real signer as opposed to a 'yeller') are first rate and somewhat reminiscent of STYX or KANSAS. The band's guitar/keyboard driven material focuses on interesting off-time progressive rhythms, soft prog-metal riffs, melodic choruses and thought provoking lyrics. Although self taught, all five musicians are technically highly skilled.

Their first release, "Frame of Mind" (1998), is a little gem of melodic metal with some great complex riffs and keyboard work. Well structured, it features nicely laid-out melodies with a strong emphasis on song writing (the band's forte). Their second album, "Paradise Lost" (2000) is simply a re-edition of the first plus some tracks from an early E.P. ("Modern Prophet", 1995). With "Concrete Eden" released in 2002, the music takes on a more progressive approach and could almost be divided into to parts: the first half has DREAM THEATER, QUEENSTYCHE and FATES WARNING overtones whereas the second half has a decidedly more symphonic feel a la SYMPHONY X (due in great part to the keyboard work). The song writing is excellent, as usual, and the production is impeccable. However, don't look for ground-breaking innovations or long drawn-out technical solos here. The music of AZTEC JADE is exciting but has no pretention except to provide some good clean fun. And it rocks!

Highly recommended to fans of RUSH, SAGA and SYMPHONY X as well as to anyone into melodic prog metal.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Concrete EdenConcrete Eden
Steelheart
Audio CD$8.00
$2.99 (used)
Paradise LostParadise Lost
Adrenaline
Audio CD$7.97
$4.99 (used)
Frame Of MindFrame Of Mind
independent
Audio CD$6.23 (used)
Modern ProphetModern Prophet
Capital Music Group
Audio CD$67.01
$18.41 (used)
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AZTEC JADE discography


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AZTEC JADE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.74 | 4 ratings
Frame of Mind
1998
3.09 | 4 ratings
Paradise Lost
2000
3.00 | 4 ratings
Concrete Eden
2002

AZTEC JADE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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AZTEC JADE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Modern Prophet
1995

AZTEC JADE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Paradise Lost by AZTEC JADE album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.09 | 4 ratings

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Paradise Lost
Aztec Jade Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Aztec Jade second release from 2000 named Paradise lost is a compilation, because it contains the first 2 release of the band Modern prophet and first studio album Frame mind, but aswell has a bonus track unreleased befor named Regatta Fugue part 1. If I said alreeady what is going one with Moder prophet on previous review I will describe briefly their first studio album Frame mind. The sound and manner of composing grows clearly in better, better sound and solid compositions, but moderated complex progressive metal. All pieces are around 5 min, so not realy very elaborated , but strong anyway. Again the voice of Onzug is on top combined with some very fine guitar parts, makes from this first album a pleasent album all the way. All tracks has same level, with a plus on Nosferatu, simply amazing piece, such beautiful and smotth guitar I quite never heared on aprog metal band lately, more acustic combined with some rougher moments, but truly amazing, the best pieces from here for sure and one of their better ones. So a good album, nothing realy impressive, again same prog metal a la DT melted with some more softer moments, something between Saga and DT. I will give 3 stars for Frame mind album. And for the both albums aswell 3 stars, keeping i mind that this is not a studio album, is a compilation of first 2 releases of the band in one album. I remain to their last album and their swansong aswell Concrete eden to be their most acomplished album from their catalogue.

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 Modern Prophet by AZTEC JADE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Modern Prophet
Aztec Jade Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars First Aztec Jade release from 1995 named Modern Prophet is considered an EP, because has 6 pieces clocking somewhere under 30 min. For a first atempt in progressive metal world this is not bad, not at all, melodic progressive metal with a touch of AOR in places, imagine a more metalized Saga for ex or Asia. The main atraaction is the voice of Leon Ozug, very cool voice for this genre, with great range. I like that the album has power , is not bland or mellow, is up tempo with some nice shifts between guitar and keys. Good stuff indeed. All 6 six pieces are good, well ok nothing realy impressive, but enjoyble for sure. 3 stars for this first product of the band.

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 Concrete Eden by AZTEC JADE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Concrete Eden
Aztec Jade Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Aztec Jade this band from USA who plays prog metal did a great job here. Do not expect to be a masterpice or something extraordinary but they plays honestly and without many ptretentions. To be told this is not a bad album at all here are some very good pieces who remainds me of Symphony X like Issues or album name Concrete eden, but also some Dream Theater influence or Shadow Gallery on the longest track from here and the last one from this album named End of days, among the best piece of the band. There are fast tunes and slow ones just in enogh cantity do not became boring. All in all a good, but non-essential, maybe 3,5 is the fair note. I find it enjoyble, for fans of prog metal.

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 Concrete Eden by AZTEC JADE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Concrete Eden
Aztec Jade Progressive Metal

Review by The T
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I bought this widely unknown album almost a year ago, and I haven't heard it ever since the first couple of listens. I got back to it yesterday and I think I have given the record enough spins to be able to share my thoughts on it.

Aztec Jade's music is progressive metal, without a doubt. Their style owes a little (or maybe a lot) to that most copied of prog-metal bands, Dream Theater, though we can safely say that, unlike other groups that limit themselves to emulate what the legendary New York band did in AWAKE or IMAGES AND WORDS, this American band doesn't stop there and has a sound pretty much their own. They also show some Rush influences, but also (as the biography correctly says) at times they can remind us of more pop-oriented prog like Saga, or to an Art-rock band like Enchant. One of the factors that contribute to that is the singer, about whom I will speak later. The music is not as virtuosic as regular progressive metal, yet there is enough space to a few solos and displays of technique. What Aztec Jade clearly tries to always have in their songs is catchy, melodic choruses, though they only partially achieve that. There are also clear Queensryche references in the music, and all of these different fountains this band has drink from have helped shape what their own sonic universe looks like. We could not forget to mention Fates Warning as another name that jumps to mind when citing influences for Aztec Jade, though this band never tries to play the kind of more technical metal that most of FW's followers do.

The musicianship in Aztec Jade ranks from good to average. Neither of the band's members is truly a master of his instrument (at least we can't tell it from what we hear) but neither is a weak performer, also. The singer, as I pointed out, is probably the most successful player in Aztec Jade, his voice combining elements of modern rock with old- school singers like Steve Walsh from Kansas or another one much influenced by the latter, Ted Leonard from Enchant. Geoff Tate is always a name to mention with many prog-metal vocalists, and with Aztec Jade's we have no exception. The guitar and the keyboard players are competent, never truly surprising us but never letting us down also. The rhythmical section is the one that at times I have a few issues with. The bassist doesn't make mistakes nor plays sloppy, but he doesn't play imaginatively either. He always keeps it safe, bordering in the formulaic. About the drummer: I used to think that Rick Miller was an awful musician. Now that I've heard CONCRETE EDEN a few more times, I can say that I was wrong, though not incredibly away from the truth. Miller can play, but, just as the bassist, he lacks imagination, his playing repetitive and run-of-the-mill.

The recording doesn't help him, though. The album, as a whole, sounds a little bit like an old recording trying to sound new. The drums are the biggest problem here: they sound so in your face, but also so empty, like big, enormous empty barrels made of wood, that it almost ruins the experience. The drums sound a little like Hair-metal recordings from the 80's, big, fat, pounding, with no finesse. The other instruments sound raw, crude, with little production behind them. I've heard great recordings by small, in-a-budget bands so that's no excuse. There are times that, I don't know if because of the drummer or if because of the recording (I don't know if this is possible), the drums sound like if they were being played a mili-second later than the rest of the instruments. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening riff of the second song, "The Machine".

About the songs, let me say that, unlike many albums, CONCRETE EDEN actually gets better after the first few tracks have gone by:

Concrete Eden (6.5/10) The two first songs are very similar, they share almost the same exact bass line and rhythmical figure, and the same weakness in the chorus.

The Machine (6.5/10) Read above.

Black October (7.5/10) sounds a lot like Queensryche, specially in the chorus where the words "mother Mary pleas forgive me" almost take us back to the "Suite Sister Mary" song in OPERATION:MINDCRIME. It's not a bad song, though.

Someone Not Me (7.5/10) is the Enchant-like moment, with a little bit of Saga thrown in the mix.

Manifestation (8/10) starts almost as pure NWOBHM and then switches to a more regular progressive mood. And then the chorus is completely power-metal-ish, with some horribly sounding double-bass drumming by Miller. Then a section that reminds us of REO Speedwagon (?!?). The ending piano chords remind me of Magellan (?!) A complete mess of a song in terms of style but entertaining.

Victory Procession (8.5/10) The best song in the album without a doubt. The keyboard chords again sound like Magellan, but the chorus is quite powerful and soul-lifting. Very good song. The awful-sounding drums keep it from being a bigger success.

Visions (6.5/10) The star sounds like a straight power metal slow song, but then the middle section is more progressive-metal-ish in nature. Not a great track.

Revelations (4:18) The beginning of this song sounds like a power ballad by a hair metal band from the 80's, as does the ending section and the middle one. Well, this actually DOES sound like a power ballad from a hair band from the 80's, complete with huge, gigantic drums that sound like empty oil-barrels. But man do they sound!

The Final Hour (8/10) The start sounds like Dream Theater, WHEN DAY AND DREAM UNITE-era. Then the rhythm in the main section brings us back to the first two songs, but then the chorus is quite original, played in two speeds (a slower first section followed by a much faster second one), and gives this song a distinct flavor. Whenever a member of Aztec Jade has a chance to play absolutely solo, it sounds kind of weird, like after the first chorus when the bass player gets a chance. He sounds forced, like he's really trying. Anyway, a good song, one of the highlights in CONCRETE EDEN.

Issues (6:49) The most "regular" progressive-metal song in this album, the band play it safe here. I have to say that Aztec Jade are at their best when they do their strange mixes of styles, but when they try to keep it traditional, they fail. The middle section is quite awkward: we have an Iron Maiden-ish guitar riff, and the keyboard follows it but sounding like a 70's Hammond (?!?). Near the end we have another one of those double-bass drum moments when we wonder what went wrong: either the drummer or the recording are doing something wrong here, but something seems out of place.

End Of Days (7/10) The last track in the album is also the longest. This one owes the most to Dream Theater, and is the one with the most instrumental sections. We have a fast middle section where it finally gets evident that the drummer and the bass player are no in harmony with each other (I don't mean musical harmony but just harmony, they just don't cooperate with each other). Another slow section that sounds a little psychedelic (?!?) leads the way for the last section to arrive. This somewhat glued- together song is not really bad, but it could be better.

As it's easy to see, I've used this exclamation figure, "(?!?)" a lot in my review of this record. There's a reason for that. CONCRETE EDEN leaves me utterly confused, as I don't know what style the band tries to emulate nor how talented the musicians really are. There are moments of good music, there are moments that almost reach a level of higher greatness, but then there are instants where we wonder whether if all five members were actually playing the songs together or if just each of them went to the studio a separate day and recorded his part. For the good moments, I give the album a 3-star rating, though closer to reality would be a 2.75 out of 5.

Recommended for: fans of prog-metal, fans of metal looking for an entertaining experience.

Not recommended for: Fans of tight, precise, technically-perfectly played metal; people who dislike metal; but most of all, this is forbidden for aspiring sound engineers.

.or maybe we should encourage them to hear this as how not to record the drums in a 2000's metal album. This could've been OK in the 80's. Now we demand more.

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 Frame of Mind by AZTEC JADE album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.74 | 4 ratings

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Frame of Mind
Aztec Jade Progressive Metal

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is the second release from the New York based prog-metal band AZTEC JADE, and the follow up to their debut CD "Modern Prophet". The CD has a very god production and the musicians are very technically skilled. This together with the good songwriting and the great hook lines performed by a powerful singer makes this album a real killer. AZTEC JADE is reminiscent to DREAM THEATER with heavy complex riffs and catchy melodies. The best tracks are "The Calling", "To Believe", "Desperate Land", "Nosferatu", "Regatta Fugue II", "Stained" and "Requiem". This album really gets to your mind. Great Stuff that is highly recommended! Go get it!

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