AEON ZEN – A Mind’s Portrait (review)

1. Existence
2. Time Divine
3. Blinded Rain
4. Hope’s Echo Pt. I
5. Hope’s Echo Pt. II
6. A Mind’s Portrait
7. The Circle’s End
8. Heavens Falling
9. Into the Infinite
10. Goddess
11. The Demise of the Fifth Sun

Year: 2009
Label: Time Divide Records

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!


Piotr Spyra
Translation: Gosia Michalska

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