Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rich Hinks of Aeon Zen fame returns with a follow-up to the critically acclaimed album “A Mind’s Portrait” with an energized album called The Face Of The Unknown. With the exception of two tracks, Rich has several vocalists from the progressive rock & progressive/power metal genres.
Starting off, we have “Salvation” (10:31) which features vocalist Michael Eriksen of Circus Maximus. At times Michael reminds me of Michael Sadler, just a little bit. This is the perfect opening track, due to it’s high energy. There’s a nice mix of power & progressive metal on this song.
“Visions” (3:58) feature vocalist Andi Kraljaca of Silent Call (I’m not familiar with this band). When the singer isn’t singing in the higher registers, I hear hints of an early Steve Walsh.
“The Heart Of The Sun” (7:12) is another one that features vocalist Michael Eriksen of Circus Maximus. The music on this is quite similar to the opening track as it has that power/progressive metal balance. Nothing to aggressive, just with lots of melodies.
“Crystal Skies” (8:13) features vocalist Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard. At first I didn’t recognize Nick’s voice, but as the song progressed I started to hear his trademark vocals. This is one of the ballads on the album. I find myself gravitating towards this song. I really think Rich tailored this song to suit Nick’s vocals.
“Natural Selection” (4:49) features vocalist Jem Godfrey of Frost*. This is very much like Frost*. Again, Rich has a talent to tailor songs for the different vocalists. Maybe Jem will have Rich on the next Frost* album. Just a thought. This is also another favorite of mine.
“The Face Of The Unknown” (7:00) is another one that feature vocalist Andi Kraljaca of Silent Call. (This is another band that I’m unfamiliar with). Andi’s vocals are wonderful and very fitting for this song. It seems to be more of a power metal song.
“You’re Not Alone” (5:22) feature Rich on vocals. The song is a beautiful ballad. Rich’s vocals are very mellow sounding. I would love to hear more singing from him on the next Aeon Zen album.
“My Sacrifice” (5:11) has a gothic beginning and has some of the heavier guitar sounds on the album. It features vocalist Jonny Tatum of Eumeria (another band I’m not familiar with).Jonny has a unique voice as I can’t pinpoint who he reminds me of.
“Start Over” (4:26) is the other song that Rich sings lead on. It’s also one of my favorites on the album. I’d say it has to be one of the most beautiful yet haunting songs. It’s a very orchestral ballad and the softest song on the album.
“Redemption’s Shadow” (7:01) is another one that features vocalist Jonny Tatum of Eumeria. This one can be put within the power & progressive metal genres. It’s a perfect ending for this very good album.
In closing, if you enjoy bands like Star One, Symphony X, Dream Theater, and similar then Aeon Zen is the band you need to look into. Those bands are just for reference, simply because Aeon Zen, especially this album, The Face Of The Unknown is unique as it doesn’t need to clone others. I’m hoping that Aeon Zen will be more of a household name in the progressive metal genre, because they deserve it. Strongly recommended for fans of the aforementioned bands. One of the best progressive metal bands on 2010.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on December 11th, 2010