Aztec Jade - Concrete Eden
Steelheart Records
Progressive Hard Rock/Metal
11 songs (63'09)
Release year: 2002
Aztec Jade, Steelheart
Reviewed by Marty
This American outfit from New York City is really starting to become a major player in the genre of progressive hard rock/metal. Their albums have all gotten very good reviews and I suspect that this album, Concrete Eden, their fourth one to date, will be no exception. They play a very epic and dramatic blend of hard rock/metal which is rich in melody and harmonies and also very heavy on the progressive elements. Their music can be described as a mix of Dream Theater, Symphony X, Shadow Gallery and Kamelot with some elements of classic progressive rock bands such as Rush, Marillion and Kansas. The Kamelot comparisons are very evident right off the start, as vocalist Leon Ozug, besides having a strong and powerful voice, has a vocal style and range which is very similar to that of Roy Khan. Comparisons can also be made to Conception, Roy Khan's previous band before Kamelot

This album is my first exposure to this band and even though I didn't find anything very unique or ground breaking about their sound, there's still lots to like. A very powerful and melodic approach with some great vocal melodies and catchy infectious choruses are all accented with lots of interesting guitar riffing and some very abstract and unpredictable tempo and time signature changes. This band takes a slightly heavier approach to their brand of progressive metal and their apparent obsession with lots of changes in tempo throughout each track gives them a very "busy" sound that takes a few listens to really fully appreciate. Some of the tracks seem to drift around a lot, changing tempos very often with the only consistency being the choruses of the song, reminding you of what song you're actually listening to (It's easy to forget with this band!). The use of keyboards, namely piano and synthesizer, enhance the overall sound of this band and add elements of feeling and atmosphere. Keyboard orchestrations are used on a few tracks, giving the band a more symphonic sound. Lead guitar is not as prominent with this band as most other progressive acts, instead, they rely on keyboard/guitar riffing that gets pretty intense at times. I really like the drum sound on this album. It's not as "big" and pounding as with most other metal acts, but has a more loose, Cozy Powell style (i.e. classic Rainbow) and have a very "live" sound to them.

Aside from a couple of mediocre songs, this is a very good album. It took me a few listens to really get into this band as although they have a great sound and are very enjoyable to listen to, some of their songs sound a bit disjointed. The excessive use of time signature changes and tempo changes sometimes disrupts the flow of the songs. Often, instrumental passages suddenly spring out at you mid song that really don't fit the overall feel of the track. Personally, in a few instances, it actually weakens what otherwise would be awesome songs. This is just a matter of personal taste though as some may love the way this band mixes up tempos in just about every song. If you like good melodic and exciting progressive metal with some pretty wild and abstract instrumental elements, check this band out. It may take a few listens as there's lots to digest with the music of this band, but in the end, your ears will certainly be satisfied.

Killing Songs :
Concrete Eden, Black October and Revelations
Marty quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Aztec Jade that we have reviewed:
Aztec Jade - Paradise Lost reviewed by Danny and quoted 80 / 100
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