Aeon Zen
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"Metal.de 9/10"

Eine Portion exzellenten Progressive Rock gefällig? AEON ZEN vermischen harte Klänge mit komplex verspielten sowie atmosphärischen und ruhigen Passagen. Als grober Vergleich fallen mir national die großartigen THE AMBER LIGHT ein, aber auch Fans von internationalen Kapellen THRESHOLD und DREAM THEATER sollten AEON ZEN mehr als zu schätzen wissen. Das Debüt "A Mind's Portrait" ist extrem facettenreich, so stehen vergleichsweise harte Metal-Songs wie "Existence" oder "Time Divine" wie selbst verständlich neben melancholischen und sparsam instrumentierten Balladen wie "Hopes Echo Pt1 – The Wake" oder "Heaven's Falling". Mit "Goddess" ist gar ein an klassische Musik angelehntes Instrumental vertreten. Jeder Song ist im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes wie ein Überraschungs-Ei. Nur werden hier keine überflüssigen Dinge – oder Songs – ans Tageslicht befördert. Die gut und druckvoll produzierte Scheibe kommt ohne Ausfälle aus. Dieser Umstand besitzt mittlerweile Seltenheitswert.

Die in London ansässige Truppe besteht im Kern aus den beiden blutjungen Richard Hinks (g./b./keys.) und Lloyd Gusto (dr.), welche das Material größtenteils im Alter von 17 (!) Jahren schrieben und gut drei Jahre später mit einer Heerschaar z.T. recht bekannter Gastmusiker eintüteten. So sind u.a. Andreas Novak (MIND'S EYE, NOVAK), Nils K Rue (PAGAN'S MIND, EIDOLON, X-WORLD/5) oder Andi Kravljaca (SILENT CALL, SEVENTH WONDER) als Sänger zu hören. Interessant ist auch der Umstand, dass "A Mind's Portrait" bedingt durch die internationale Beteiligung in insgesamt fünf Ländern aufgenommen wurde, was aber dem Geist der Scheibe alles andere als geschadet zu haben scheint. AEON ZEN kommen bei aller stilistischen Vielfalt und personell breit aufgefächerten Mannschaft immer kompakt und als musikalische Einheit daher, was wohl als besondere Leistung der beiden Bandköpfe, die sich mittlerweile einem Musik-Studium verschrieben haben, vermerkt werden muss.

Unverzichtbare Anspieltipps sind das episch angehauchte und hochmelodische "Blinded Rain" und das Prog-Metal-Monster "The Demise Of The Fifth Sun". AEON ZEN sind eine frische, interessante und einzigartige Truppe, die todsicher noch viel von sich hören lassen wird. Sagt nicht, dass wir euch nicht rechtzeitig auf diese starke Formation aufmerksam gemacht haben. Die empfehlenswerte Scheibe ist über die einschlägigen Web-Shops und natürlich über die Bandseite erhältlich. - http://metal.de/cdreviews.php4?was=review&id=12508


"Noizzweb 8.5/10"

Impresiona comprobar el talento de algunos músicos que a una tempranísima edad son capaces de crear obras extraordinariamente maduras y complejas como esta. Me refiero a esta banda londinense llamada AEON ZEN cuyos responsables, Richard Hinks y Lloyd Musto, comenzaron a escribir los temas a los diecisiete años de edad (actualmente tienen veinte). Esto no sería nada extraño si estuviésemos hablando de una banda de Rock básico, pero de lo que aquí hablamos es de un trabajo de Metal y Rock Progresivo de gran calidad técnica y una enorme variedad sonora. “A Mind´s Portrait” es el debut de estos jóvenes del Reino Unido que publica Time Divide Records.

Este trabajo contiene todo lo que un seguidor del género Progresivo puede buscar en un álbum. Pasajes contundentes y sofisticados en clave de Metal que se combinan con partes relajantes y clásicas. Melodías intrincadas y hasta cierta psicodelia en algunos instantes, sin renunciar tampoco a otras partes más sencillas y atmosféricas. En este tipo de música es muy importante la calidad técnica con la que se desarrolla la música, así como el talento compositivo para que todo encaje a la perfección. Bueno, pues todo esto está más que logrado en este trabajo en el que no falta de nada y todo está donde tiene que estar, suena como debe sonar y evoca esos mundos sonoros tan característicos del género.

Richard Hinks es también el responsable de la producción y mezclas del álbum, que cuenta con interesantes colaboraciones que han hecho que el disco se haya grabado entre cinco países diferentes. Colaboraciones como las de los cantantes Elyes Bouchoucha (MYRATH), Andi Kravljaca (SILENT CALL), Andreas Novak (MIND´S EYE) o Nils K. Rue (PAGANS MIND). Un aliciente más para descubrir la música de estos inquietos AEON ZEN que se han marcado un trabajo de lo más maduro a pesar de su juventud.

La parte visual del disco está también muy acertada, con una portada que enseguida sugiere ese viaje sonoro que supone la música Progresiva. Así que si te gusta este género aquí tienes este “A Mind´s Portrait” que es toda una revelación. - http://noizzweb.blogspot.com/2009/05/aeon-zen-minds-portrait.html


"Perfect Prog 9.5/10"

Hailing from London, Aeon Zen is the brainchild of Richard Hinks and Lloyd Musto, and in collaboration with some guest musicians and vocalists create an amazing debut release. A mind's Portrait has everthing you could want from a prog album, great musicianship,songs that will stick in your head for days, soft and heavier tracks appealing to everybody, it really does run through the gamut of emotions.

Considering this is their debut they were able to get some amazing talent on board, which say's alot for the future of the band. I really can't pinpoint who they sound like, i suppose they sound like Aeon Zen!! Standout tracks are the title track and Hopes Echo part 1, 2 , i am such a sucker for the amazing vocalist from Mind's Eye Andreas Novak, his voice is so pure and emotive.

I think Richard and Lloyd do a great job sharing the main vocal duties and must have been seriously happy to work with such talent!! The final and heaviest track features Elyes Bouchoucha of Myrath, He really is a dead ringer vocally for Russel Allen of Symphony X. Personally i can't fault this release and it will take something special to beat it for the album of 2009.Well done guys.

Note another great album cover from Mathias Noren!! - http://www.perfectprog.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2631&Itemid=110


"ProgArchives 4.5/5"

AEON ZEN consists of multi-instrumentalist Richard Hinks and drummer Lloyd Musto.They're both 20 years old and went to the same university in London to study music.So they've been creating and playing music together for several years now.They have some high profile guests helping out on vocals,keys and guitar.I must say right off the top that these two guys not only play amazingly well but these songs they've created are brilliant.A very talented duo.The album's title "A Mind's Portrait" gives us a clue why there is so much variety on this album.Very cool album cover as well. "Existence" opens with pounding drums as synths roll in.Vocals from Andi Kravijaca(SEVENTH WONDER) arrive as it calms down.A heavy sound kicks in after a minute as the tempo continues to shift.Guitar comes to the fore before 3 minutes and he starts to light it up as drums pound.We're warmed up now. "Time Divine" features the vocals of PAGAN'S MIND singer Nils K Rue.This is without a doubt the greatest vocal performance on this album.Some guest guitar from Matt Sheppard(TIMEFALL). I love the way this song starts(hard and fast).Nils comes in powerfully(he is freaking amazing!).I can't say enough about his singing on this track.Everytime he sings on the chorus it's really emotional for me.Then the band kicks back in wreaking havoc.Some blistering guitar after 3 minutes that turns into a gorgeous solo. "Blinded Rain" features Andi on vocals again.Tasteful guitar to open as reserved vocals come in.Piano before 1 1/2 minutes.The song is more powerful a minute later but it's brief as it calms right down with some nice bass and piano.The guitar starts to grind away.Vocals return with the earlier soundscape.Some beautiful guitar late. "Hope's Echo Pt.I" and "Pt.II" has Andreas Novak(MIND'S EYE) on vocals.The first part is a ballad with vocals and piano leading the way.This is my least favourite track which is no surprise considering i have an allergy to ballads.The second part is more like it.The drums and guitar are outstanding as the heaviness comes and goes. "A Mind's Portrait" reminds me of OPETH's "Damnation" album.It has a similar dark and melancholc sound with reserved vocals.It kicks in before 3 minutes before waves of sound come in late as it blends into "The Circle's End" which is really the instrumental conclusion of "A Mind's Portrait".This is simply a fantastic instrumental.Drums lead the way early then the guitar comes in ripping it up.So impressive! "Heaven's Falling" opens with piano and drums as vocals come in.I like when the sound gets fuller before a minute.It then changes completely to an OSI- like("Free") style which includes kicking some ass.Back to the chorus before it settles.I like the atmosphere before 4 minutes.Some chunky bass too.A blistering keyboard solo a minute later from Cristian Van Schuerbeck(ALL TOO HUMAN),then the chorus returns. "Into The Infinite" features some prominant drumming 30 seconds in as synths come in then vocals.A powerful soundscape 2 minutes in.Here we go again before 3 1/2 minutes, it sounds like a runaway train! Killer track! I should mention that Andi does the vocals and guitar on this one.A calm 4 minutes in before it kicks back in late.Nice. "Goddess" is an instrumental that opens with piano with some violin joining in.The full orchestral sound after 2 minutes is so moving.It then settles back down to the opening soundscape. "The Demise Of The Fifth Sun" is the final track and the epic at 12 1/2 minutes.Check out the vocals from Elyes Bouchoucha(MYRATH) from Tunisia.The piano to start is blown away quickly by a thunderous soundscape.My God! Lloyd is beating the hell out of his drumkit as vocals come in.This guy can sing man! A rampage 4 minutes in with some growls.Some nice guitar a minute later when it settles.Complex and aggressive music 6 minutes in.This is great.Organ 8 minutes in.Vocals and synths before 9 1/2 minutes followed by an outstanding drum display with some brief growling. Prog-Metal at it's best right here people! This is a must-have. I'll be interested to see where they go from here.With all the guest vocalists and the variety of music on here they really don't have their own identity and sound yet.That doesn't matter right now because this is flat out amazing! Tough to pick a favourite but "Time Divine" with Nils' vocals might be the one,although "A Mind's Portrait","Into The Infinite" and "The Demise Of The Fifth Sun" are all at the top for me. - http://www.progarchives.com/album-reviews.asp?id=23012


"Rockarea 10/10"

Perhaps with those who enjoy searching for interesting but not necessarily well-known progmetal bands the name of Timefall will ring a bell. It is ex-members of British Timefall - Richard Hinks and Lloyyd Musto started AEON ZEN
An interesting thing about this album is that it features quite a large number of guest musicians - real big names on the prog rock scene. So, vocals on "Mind's portrait" belong to Andi Kralvjaca (Silent Call, ex-Seventh Wonder), Nils K. Rue (Pagan's Mind) Andreas Novak (Mind's Eye) and Elyes Bouchoucha (Myrath). Richard and Lloyd also provide vocals here. Speaking of guests, it is worth mentioning that their friends from Timefall – Matt Shepherd and Andi Kralvjaca contributed immensly to guitar solo parts, whereas Cristian Van Schuerbeck (All Too Human) helped them out on keyboards
All vocals match tracks here which is a strong point of this album. Lots of tracks sound as if they were played by artists' own bands. Their participation in recording process influenced the overall sound.

Both, those who like space prog rock and those who enjoy prog metal will like"Mind's Portrait". This album is well-balanced between these two styles. It includes a large number of keyboard passages in the backgrounds, soaring piano lines and perfectly matched guitars. This portrait is made up of prog rock solo parts but also of crunching prog metal squeals
This album features a few cosmic fragments characteristic for electronic music and paradoxically this does not interfere with the overall concept of all tracks and the album itself, but it adds a touch of something different.
For me the best fragment of the album is a 2 part Hope's Echo. Frankly speaking I'm a big fan of Andreas Novak. Another interesting tracks are those featuring vocals of two singers and to give you an example it's Andi Kralvjaca and Nils K. Rue on Into the Infinite. Heaven's Calling grabs attention, however, although the melody and melodic lines are interesting, maybe without some distorted vocalizations it could have been even better. All in all, I must admit that the overall effect is incredible. I want to mention here that tracks that do not include any big names are equally good as those with well-know brands
Instrumental Goddess serves here as a nice break. There are impressive parts for violins with atmosphere that builds up gradually till the orchestral effect – the listener can be at the edge of his seat with amazement and then after a momentous climax, this atmosphere disappears quickly and the track ends in quite a banal way. It's a pity because you are hungry for more...
This track is followed by the heaviest and longest piece on the entire album. It is a showcase for dynamic guitar passages and an overall atmosphere could be compared to the latest works by Adagio. There are just few growls and at the end you might have some associations with Ayreon!

Cover artwiork by Mattias Noren is also a strong point of this album. It's worth mentioning because Mattias was planning to quit his job as a cover artwork designer. Fortunatelly he makes exceptions from time to time.
On their debut album Aeon Zen serves a variety of sounds, however, they are all rooted within fix frames. I can, without any doubt, recommend it to fans of guest artists' bands. Everyone will be able to trace bits and pieces of sound charactristic for guest artists own bands.
Richard Hinks and Lloyd Musto started an incredible band and I will definately be waiting for their new releases and Mind's Portrait is my hot favourite for Album of 2009! - http://www.rockarea.eu/articles.php?article_id=879


"RockTotal 7/10"

La clase inglesa tarde o temprano tiene que salir a relucir por alguna parte y si lo tuyo es la música desde muy jovencito la cosa está más que clara, algo así debió pensar Richard Hinks, mente maestra del grupo AEON ZEN, quien procedente de Londres ha sabido aunar dos elementos fundamentales, la técnica y la melodía.

Así, con esos ingredientes llega a nuestras manos “A Mind´s Portrait”, el debut de la formación inglesa, que con once temas consigue convencer al respetable ofreciendo una gran dosis de Rock Progresivo pero sumamente melódico, lleno de melodías vocales atractivas, buenos estribillos y pasajes instrumentales de gran factura.

Todo lo que decimos lo podemos ver en tan sólo tres temas, los iniciales “Existence” y “Time Divine “donde dejan claro que las melodías son clave y pieza principal, junto a la bonita voz de su líder; así como “Blinded Rain”, muy en la línea de lo más lento de DREAM THEATER, técnica y gusto por buenos estribillos bajo un aura muy intimista. No hace falta más que escuchar “Hopes Echho Part 1” para darse cuenta de estar ante un músico con mucho sentimiento, el mismo que refleja cada canción del álbum.

La magia inglesa vuelve a descubrimos otra nueva e interesante formación, AEON ZEN, que con su debut engancha y convence como mejor sabe, ofreciendo música sincera y talentosa. - http://www.rocktotal.com/discos/disco.asp?id=4065


"Sea of Tranquility 4.5/5"

This debut album from the band Aeon Zen is a very bold statement to those in the progressive metal field that there is a new kid on the block. Filled with the sweeping grandeur that makes this style of music so intoxicating, Aeon Zen does its best to prove that they are musicians worthy of your time.

A Mind's Portrait is a very unusual album in a few different ways. It started as a project by a 17 year old Richard Hinks and an equally young Lloyd Musto. This pair who are prog metal fanatics thought that the music they were creating was good enough for some of their vocal heroes to sing. So, they contact them to see if this might be possible. Damn if they didn't pull it off!

Enlisting such talent as Andreas Novak (Mind's Eye), Matt Shepherd (Timefall), Andi Kravijaca (Seventh Wonder), Nils K Rue (Pagen's Mind) and Cristian Van Schuerbeck (All Too Human) these guys have created a work that will surely keep you wanting more as they take you through a multi-dimensional sonic tour de force.

When I first listened to this disc, I was in the car heading to Chicago. It is a five hour trip and not much to see along the way. As I put it in and the regal beginning of "Existence" hit my ears, there was little doubt that this is an album to take note of. This finely crafted piece of music only sets the tone for what you are going to find on the remainder of the disc. Each of the eleven tracks on this CD are a testament to a band that is not afraid to go where the music leads them. From the melancholy piano that leads off the two part "Hope's Echo" to the blazing metal assault of works like "Time Divine" Aeon Zen takes you on a journey that crosses many musical boundaries. By the time you reach the epic twelve minute closer "The Demise Of The Fifth Sun" every sensory nerve will be on edge and this work may be the one that puts your brain into overload!

The peaks and valleys of this disc make it a true treat for the ears. Too many times I receive works where it is hard to distinguish where one song leaves off and the next one begins. A Mind's Portrait hits on so many different moods and musical styles I found it to be a refreshing change from so many of the albums that are out there today. Fans from Emerson, Lake & Palmer to Dream Theater are going to find a gem in this new band that I believe will make a name for themselves with this terrific release. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this one, you will not be disappointed. With almost one hour of dynamite progressive music, this one is a bargain at any price. - http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=7798


Discography

A Mind's Portrait (Full album) - 2009

Time Divine (Single Edit) - 2010

The Face of the Unknown (Full album, not yet released) - 2010

Photos

Bio

Aeon Zen released a debut album "A Mind's Portrait" in 2009. Noted for its catchy melodies, diverse mix of songs and styles, progressive time changes, Aeon Zen are a new force to be reckoned with.

It started in 2006 when Rich Hinks, with his local Cambridge musician friends, played and composed music influenced by prog rock and metal. It was at this time, when the friends split to various universities around the UK at age 18, that Rich founded Aeon Zen.

With Rich signing to Time Divide Records Ltd. in November 2008 to create the album "A Mind's Portrait" (released May 2009), Rich notated, recorded, produced and played multiple instruments (guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals), with Lloyd Musto on drums for this album. With the Record Company's support Rich was able to approach well respected guest vocalists to also appear (Nils K. Rue of Pagan's Mind, Andi Kravljaca of Silent Call (ex-Seventh Wonder), Andreas Novak of Mind's Eye and Elyes Bouchoucha of Myrath), which blends perfectly with the quality of the production and musicianship on this album to make a must have in anyone's music collection. Mattias Norén, famous for his spectacular artwork, produced the album cover.

Rich is now hard at work on a 2nd Aeon Zen album (due 2010) and has put together a live band of Aeon Zen, with session musicians, with tour support from the Record Company.