Aeon Zen – Transversal
Layered Reality Productions
Release Date: 21/09/2021
Running Time: 30:03
Review by Beth Jones
I’ve always been one for being unfashionably late to the party – I take it way past fashionably late, and into the realms of looking like a bit of an arse! This was certainly the case with my transition from being spoon-fed Jazz and Classical music, to discovering the world of Rock and Metal for myself. I didn’t even discover Queen until just before Freddie’s passing, and have spent many days since berating my tendency to be a little slow on the uptake, thus missing out on seeing them in full flight.
The subject of today’s review unfortunately looks like it’s going to be another one of my unfashionably late occasions. Aeon Zen have been serenading the world of Progressive Metal since 2008, but up until this point, I have never heard their music. Yes…I am a damn fool. Especially as this new album, “Transversal”, is to be their final album, closing off the project forever…
They have designed this album as a way for them to go out with a bang, rather than just fade away, and oh how it does that. Structured as 10 movements of an overall piece, Aeon Zen have created a body of work that looks back and reflects on their career, and brings everything full circle (a nod to this theme is also given in the album cover artwork). And what a beautifully perfect circle it is.
Featuring ex Aeon Zen guitarist Matt Shepherd, and ex-DragonForce keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov, this album is a masterclass in Progressive Metal, and indeed musical technique and composition in general. Full of soaring and catchy melodies, classical orchestration, and choral harmonies, it paints a decadent and emotive musical picture full of so many layers that nothing I have to say will do it even the remotest bit of justice…However, I will try my best.
Opening with the first movement, ‘I: Twilight’, the mode is set with atmospheric synth and strings, and beautifully harmonised vocals, all of which grow and swell to a climactic point featuring sumptuous guitar work, and insane cross rhythms. Then, dropping back, it prepares the stage for the dawning of ‘II: A New Day’. In stark contrast, this begins in a spikier fashion, with staccato strings and timpani featuring heavily, alongside more fantastic guitars in harmony. This movement is driven by classic elements, making it a very cinematic piece. Simply stunning.
‘III: Chase The Sunrise’ shows us the real technical prowess of all the musicians here. It is fantastically prog, but with catchy hooks, and huge riffs. This theme continues throughout the album, as it gathers pace, and becomes more frenetic and full-on.
‘V: Force Of Fire’ is a powerful movement, giving way to a tense and intense minute in ‘VI: Lines Redrawn’, which also features a quite frankly epically delicious bit of guitar work. This is then instantly outdone by the opening Guitar and synth work of ‘VII: Purgatory Rechristened’, which could have been written by Beethoven. And this blistering movement just keeps getting better and better, teasing and exciting all my synapses. Holy hell, this album is something else!! This is what all music should sound like! It should be the law.
‘IX: It Ends As It Began’ is the penultimate movement of this mesmeric work, and it does indeed begin to close the gap on the circle, drawing from the rest of the album, in pace, rhythm, and harmony.
Darkness falls on the album with the final movement ‘X: Forever’. Beginning with cyclical piano in a minor key, it maintains the pace, and expansiveness, but begins to bring things down. It goes without saying that it’s entirely beautiful, and perfectly formed. It draws heavily on classic influences again, and comes to a close with just piano and voice…
And now I’m exhausted, but in the best possible way ever. I’m not entirely sure if I breathed throughout any of that half hour of absolute musical ecstasy. One of the best works I have ever heard, without question. But this is very bittersweet. Tinged with sadness…I’ve only just found this miraculous band. Does this really have to be the end?
I: Twilight (Official Video)
01. I: Twilight
02. II: A New Day
03. III: Chase The Sunrise
04. IV: 10.000 Eyes
05. V: Force Of Fire
06. VI: Lines Redrawn
07. VII: Purgatory Rechristened
08. VIII: Twilight Reprise
09. IX: It Ends As It Began
10. X: Forever
Rich Gray – Rhythm; Lead; Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Andi Kravljaca – Lead Vocals
Alistair Bell – Lead Guitar
Steve Burton – Drums
Vadim Pruzhanov (ex-DragonForce, Solo) – Keyboard solo in ‘III: Chase The Sunrise’
Matt Shepherd (ex-Aeon Zen) – Guitar solo in ‘IX: It Ends As It Began’
Alistair Bell, Clay Dean, Alyce Gray, Rich Gray, Iris Van ‘t Veer, Tom De Wit
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.