It's been over 5 years since New York's Aztec Jade's last studio album of original material, Frame of Mind, and hopes have been high for a new release from this exciting progressive metal band. Concrete Eden, their debut on Steelheart Records, is jam packed with complex prog-metal ala Dream Theater, and melodic, catchy material squarely in the Journey or Saga mode. It's this combination of styles that really sets this CD apart from the many other releases in the genre, as Aztec Jade comes across as professional songwriters, not just shred monsters who show you they can play.
You'll be singing the wonderful "Someone, Not Me" for days, a tune with soaring melodies and pasionate vocals, with lyrics about the inner search that we all go through in life. There are classy and intricate technical pieces that will have every Dream Theater or Symphony X fan drooling, like "The Machine", "Manifestation", or the churning title track, which features great guitar and keyboard interplay. "Victory Procession" is a powerful symphonic song of one mans quest to rule the world, with huge keyboards and heavy guitar riffs, while singer Leon Ozug shines on the ballady "Revelations", complemented by a ripping guitar solo from Matt Howenstein and gentle piano from Timothy Becker. Perhaps the most powerful track though is the Dream Theater-influenced "The Final Hour", where the whole band shows a tremendous amount of poise and precision with the many complex instrumental passages.
Really, there's not a bad track on Concrete Eden. It's refreshing to hear a band that knows how to mix heavy, technical material with catchy hooks and melodies. Aztec Jade has really arrived with this release-stand up and take notice!