Aeon Zen

Label: Layered Reality Productions
Three similar bands: Dream Theater/Threshold/Haken

Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
I: Twilight
II: A New Day
III: Chase The Sunrise
IV: 10.000 Eyes
V: Force of Fire
VI: Lines Redrawn
VII: Purgatory Rechristened
VIII: Twilight Reprise
IX – It Ends As It Began
X – Forever

Rich Gray – Rhythm; Lead; Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Andi Kravljaca – Lead Vocals
Alistair Bell – Lead Guitar
Steve Burton – Drums

A Mind's Portrait (2009)
The Face of the Unknown (2010)
Enigma (2013)
Ephemera (2014)
Inveritas (2019)

Vadim Pruzhanov – Keyboard solo in ‘III: Chase the Sunrise’
Matt Shepherd – Guitar solo in ‘IX: It Ends As It Began’
Choir: Alistair Bell, Clay Dean, Alyce Gray, Rich Gray, Iris Van ‘t Veer, Tom De Wit

Produced by Rich Gray
Mixed & Mastered by Rich Gray
Artwork by Rich Gray & Tom de Wit

Released 2021-09-24
Reviewed 2021-10-17

layered reality

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Sometimes it is strange how great bands can fly under the radar while you are bombarded with the mediocre stuff, kind of like Aeon Zen. A band that started out over a decade ago, the debut came 2009 and now in 2021 they give us their swansong, an album called transversal. An album that is also a song, it is split in ten tracks, but it is supposed to be taken in as one. Like some other great titles I remember, and according to the press material the seeds for this song was actually taking root before the band was even in existence in 2007, so it is probably a good way to encapsulate the whole story about Aeon Zen. It was a fairly short story, but sometimes I wish more bands knew to call it quits instead of just going on doing the same ad infinitum. There will always be this peak from which the journey then will only be downhill, often at increasing speeds, perhaps Aeon Zen actually calls it quits when they are on the top.

This album will be placed in the progressive metal bracket as it can be compared with the likes of Dream Theater and bands similar to them. But there is a difference to many such bands, and that is the fact that Transversal actually feels progressive and fresh. It has lots of depth, the story is being told in a very interesting way and there are many layers and depths in the thirty-minute Transversal. The variation throughout combined with the short playing time makes it almost mesmerizing, and it is exciting, it is also melodic and emotional. The production is excellent, as are the vocals, it is a high-quality production that could have a wider appeal than just to the regular fans.

The one thing that can speak against this album is the fact that it should be enjoyed in its entirety and not as parts of some randomised playlist or something like that. It is also not instantly rewarding; it is one of those albums you need to listen to a few times to really reap then benefits from. But it is well worth it as Transversal is one of the best albums of 2021, and it doesn’t have any weaknesses. The composition is great, the melodies, everything just begs you to play it again, and again, I find this one to be one of those albums that actually makes writing all these reviews and listening to all these albums worthwhile. This weighs up the negatives of the two other albums I listen to and reviewed for publishing today and for many others, it is just a wonderful album. It would be very difficult to end in a more impressive way than this, I guess you could call it legendary.

Transversal deserves to be heard, and to be recognised. Perhaps you can say that it is sad that the band comes to an end, but everything ends and why not end while you are still relevant? I recommend this one, it would almost be foolish to disregard it – excellent album!