Aeon Zen
The Face of the Unknown
Style: Progressive Metal
Release date: October 12th 2010
Playing time: 63:49

It was only a year ago when Aeon Zen barged into the Metal scene with “A Mind’s Portrait”. Rising to what must have been a daunting challenge of emulating that impressive debut, the band returns with “The Face Of The Unknown”.

For those yet unfamiliar with the ‘band’, Aeon Zen is mentored Rich Hinks, a young musician from Cambridge, England, who plays most of the instruments as well as producing the band’s recordings. With this new full-length, Mr Hinks seems to demonstrate a more mature compositional approach. The instrumental execution is once again of a high standard - moreover the guitar solos possess a vibrancy that wasn’t so evident before. Another surprise is that this time Rich also plays drums and does a damn fine job of it, too.

In my review of “A Mind’s Portrait” (elsewhere in this webzine), I remarked on the music’s lack of identity – however I feel that “The Face Of The Unknown” contains subtle but positive developments in that regards, particularly with tracks such as ‘You’re Not Alone’ and the excellent ‘Redemption’s Shadow’.

Once more, a number of vocalists have been invited to articulate Rich’s lyrics, namely: Michael Eriksen (of Norwegian band Circus Maximus); Andi Kravljaca (of Silent Call – Andi is also part of Aeon Zen’s touring line-up) and Nick D’Virgilio (of Spock’s Beard, Genesis and Brand X, amongst others). Also in “The Face…” are two English vocalists - Jem Godfrey (Frost*) and Jonny Tatum (Eumeria). Rest assured there is no weakest link in the vocal department but I particularly enjoyed the warmth of Jonny Tatum’s vocals in ‘Redemption’s Shadow’ and the way Andi Kravljaca’s voice gives the album’s title-track such a cathartic feeling. Even Rich has a go at singing in a couple of songs – one being ‘Start Over’, where he uses a ‘whispering’ but emotionally intense vocal style that is perfectly suited to this melancholic ballad.

The artwork of “The Face…” was created by Mattias Norén who is intimately connected with Prog Metal, having worked for bands such as Evergrey, Into Eternity, Wolverine, Arena, Kamelot, Mind’s Eye, amongst many others. In all honesty I didn’t like what he did for “The Face Of The Unknown” – all the detail is focused on the bottom left-hand corner which leaves the rest of the front-sleeve rather empty.

As for the album’s content, it should certainly find appreciative ears amongst fans of Rush, Evergrey, Kamelot and Mind’s Eye. “The Face Of The Unknown” is a joy to listen to and, paradoxically, should make Rick Hinks the most known face of Prog Metal.


01. Salvation (10:31) [vox: Michael Eriksen]
02. Visions (3:58) [vox: Andi Kravljaca]
The Heart of the Sun (7:12) [vox: Michael Eriksen]
04. Crystal Skies (8:13) [vox: Nick D’Virgilio]
05. Natural Selection (4:49) [vox: Jem Godfrey]
6. The Face of the Unknown (7:00) [vox: Andi Kravljaca]
07. You’re Not Alone (5:22) [vox: Rich Hinks]
08. My Sacrifice (5:11) [vox: Jonny Tatum & Rich Hinks]
09. Start Over (4:26) [vox: Rich Hinks]
10. Redemption’s Shadow (7:01) [vox: Jonny Tatum]

Label: Time Divide Records Ltd
Buy the disc:, and band website
Reviewed by: Chris Galea
Date: October 22nd 2010