Aeon Zen is the brainchild of the talented Rich Hinks. It started out more as a project, with various vocalists contributing to the songs. Last year's "Enigma" had Hinks ready to transition his project into an actual band. He still recorded almost all the instruments himself but there was a core band ready to move forward. "Epherema" is that step forward. With a glut of progressive metal bands out there, Aeon Zen are still trying to set themselves apart.
The playing on "Ephemera" is all top-notch. The vocals, which include the occasional harsh vocal, fit well within the context of each track. The song "Life?" starts out with a decidedly Haken moment (whimsical and slightly odd), which is fine but I would rather leave that style to Haken. The rest of the song goes in another direction and the band never revisits that theme. The song "Unite" has a very heavy riff, which is quite welcome but makes me wonder exactly what type of prog metal band Aeon Zen wants to be. There is nothing wrong with variety, but it did confuse me as a listener.
The songs are fairly strong but don't always distinguish themselves from each other. For example, even though I've listened to this album a lot and I made a note that I really like "The Order Of The Blind," there is no specific reason that I do. Overall, "Epherema" is a good album but "Enigma" was better: stronger songs, better concept and more focused overall. The artwork is not great either. The title is hard to read and doesn't jump out at you.
Rich and the guys have a ton of talent, and I do think they have a masterpiece in their future. Unfortunately, "Epherema" is not it.