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Monday, Dec. 6, 2010

Aeon Zen

The Face of the Unknown (Time Divide Records)

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It’s one thing to be Adam Young, the one-man electronic brainchild behind Owl City, composing Auto-Tuned tracks on a computer in his parents’ basement. It’s quite another to be Rich Hinks, the young U.K.-based multi-instrumentalist who helms the progressive-metal behemoth Aeon Zen.

Just as he did on A Mind’s Portrait in 2009, Hinks secured some of the finest albeit lesser-known prog-rock and metal vocalists around—including Andi Kravljaca (Silent Call), Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus) and Jem Godfrey (Frost*)—and wrote songs that fit their style. In return, they sing as if these were their own. A highlight is “Crystal Skies,” featuring Spock’s Beard vocalist Nick D’Virgilio. Less dense and more atmospheric than most of the album’s other tracks, it confirms that Hinks is as skilled at writing blistering progressive metal as he is brooding, introspective songs—all without losing the hooks.

Not quite as powerful as A Mind’s Portrait, The Face of the Unknown is still a worthy prog-metal find.