By Colonel Angus

 Prog metal has been on the rise for a while now and we have bands like Dream Theater to thank for that.  Whenever a genre becomes popular, it seems we are flooded with many bands that either jump on the bandwagon or fail to create something new and exciting.  Aeon Zen is not one of those bands.  Their latest release "Enigma" is a solid album from start to finish.  I have had the luxury of reviewing so many good records lately that I feel overwhelmed with good music.  While Aeon Zen takes elements of other bands like the previously mentioned Dream Theater and Enchant, they still manage to sound fresh and a bit unique.

Andi Kravljaca’s vocals are great throughout.  He possesses a great clean vocal with a lot of emotion and range.  I think Rich Hinks is the one who adds the cookie monster vocals which work really well here.  I like that the band uses it to “color” the tunes but does not over use them.  I’m not a fan of that newer vocal style but when it is injected here and there, I think it add to the song.  Take “Divinity” for instance.  The harsh vocals at the beginning fit the opening riffs perfectly but when the song changes gears, the clean vocals set the tone.   There are so many great prog moments on "Enigma" that I would be listing out pretty much the whole disk but I especially like “Warning”, “Still Human”, and “Artificial Soul”.  Included in all of the songs is some great guitar work courtesy of Matt Shepperd.  His soloing fits the tunes so perfectly.  He reminds me of a mix of John Petrucci and Steve Howe.  Shaz (yes, that his name) supplies keyboards throughout and he really shines on “Seven Hills” and “Eternal Snow”.  Drummer Steve Burton also does a great job on the entire record with his prog drumming style of playing.  Aeon Zen is one solid group of musicians but more importantly, they manage to write great tunes that show-off their chops.  Most bands in this genre spend more time trying to impress with their playing and less with their songwriting abilities.  Aeon Zen manage to do both.

Nightmare Records released this disk earlier this year and it’s a shame it took me this long to give it a rave review.  Anyone, and I do mean anyone, who calls themselves a prog metal fan needs to own "Enigma".  I am very picky when it comes to my prog music and after just one spin of Aeon Zen’s latest release, I was hooked.  I give these guys my highest marks and so far Enigma is landing in my top 10 records of 2013.