Review Written by Musicgirl
|Release Date||10 May 2019|
I have tended to shy away from some of the biggest progressive metal acts because of the tendency for vocals to be an afterthought and for their syrupy delivery. It’s not a coincidence, then, that some of my favorite progressive metal acts are either instrumental (Angel Vivaldi, Michael Angelo Batio etc.) or on the thrash end (Voivod, Mekong Delta etc.). Aeon Zen doesn’t totally avoid the aforementioned pitfalls on their new release Inveritas. For this reason, I have a hard time listening to the first and last tracks (‘Rebel Theory’; ‘Inveritas’) even with Vadim Pruzhanov on keys. Still, I find depth and brilliance on this album.
Aeon Zen, in their 10+ year career, have been noted for their diversity of styles and defiance of classification as a metal band. While many would surely think this is an asset, to me it raises a red flag. This is probably because of my position as a music historian and my advanced age for a power/prog metal fan. I am thus highly aware of and biased toward the development of the individual styles contributing to the finished product in a band like Aeon Zen. Lucky for me, Inveritas is a pretty pure metal release, perhaps more so than some of the band’s prior recordings (I’m not familiar with them); the only issues I have with genre bending on Inveritas are what I feel are divergent vocal textures tacked onto the end of songs, ranging from a Queen impression to R&B to a number of semi-acapella exercises that seem to share a saccharine or overwrought quality. And then ‘Another Piece that Fits’ contains a rather awkward fitting: a jarring musical surprise in the form of a song-within-a-song. In this context, a scratched old-timey jazz record or simulation thereof plays.
‘Another Piece that Fits’, outside of its odd jazz appendage, is one of the stronger tracks on Inveritas. Its speed sure got my blood circulating! Some unusual vocal styling should be noted; I have rarely seen vocals have such an instrumental quality in the sense that they interweave so well with the guitars as here. Like a few other tracks on the album, ‘Another Piece’ has a slower, more pensive, vocal-dominated section in the middle. Another special touch is the unusual drum work.
Other stand-out tracks on Inveritas are ‘A World without Sky’, ‘Last Alive’, and ‘Disconnected’. ‘A World without Sky’ doesn’t escape the curious terminal vocal add-ons I spoke of earlier, but not before over six minutes of blissful, rhythmic, dark creativity. Highlights include a nice double kick attack and inclusion of vocals in what’s otherwise more of a guitar solo section. This thinking outside the box is very fresh and welcoming. ‘Last Alive’ keeps it somber save for a tease of vocal fluff before the moody spoken word section. From the opening diminished arpeggios to the muddy, darker vocal, the discordant onslaught hardly lets up. ‘Disconnected’ is a study in contrasts. Dreamy guitar leads float over dissonant chunky drop-D rhythm work. The inspired verse vocal melody is alternately bluesy and ominous. Unclean gang vocals in the background provide the perfect extra flourish.
Considering the mentioned inconsistency of the vocals on Inveritas, ‘Treachery of Images’ is sadly the only instrumental. An overabundance of choppy time meter shifts hurt its flow. Redemption comes in the poignant, familiar sounding theme that is possibly based on a classical one. Classical is one of Aeon Zen’s many musical influences. ‘Treachery of Images”s structure is most untypical with the main theme appearing unexpectedly. In closing, I want to emphasize a few different things about Inveritas. Despite some detours, it’s hard to match much of this album for sheer imagination and passion.Finally, I need to applaud the dazzling guitar virtuosity of Alistair Bell.
Review Written by Musicgirl
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