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Amadeus Awad's EON - "The Book Of Gates" (CD)

Amadeus Awad's EON - "The Book Of Gates" CD cover image

"The Book Of Gates" track listing:

1. Visions In Sand
2. The Crown's Fate
3. The Book of Gates
4. Incarnation

Reviewed by on September 26, 2014

"Pockets of pure power lay hidden like a minefield within an orchestrated masterpiece that is chock full of extraordinary guest performances, only to be topped off by inspiring and eloquent guitar solos."

It is truly hard to compare anything to the mind-blowing greatness of Arjen Anthony Luccassen, even if you consider the ones considered “great” in the world of progressive metal. I may place Ayreon on a pretty big pedestal, complete with a rabid unhealthy mancrush for the mastermind, but I firmly believe that if you want to sound like the best, Arjen isn’t a bad place to start. However, there is another band that hails from the forests of Lebanon, with phenomenal songwriting team and an army of guest appearances which could give the Dutch master a run for his money. EON may not be a name known to many, but any true fan of progressive metal would be wise to keep tabs with what emanates from the “Switzerland of the Middle East.”

“The Book of Gates” is an extraordinary achievement from an extraordinary cast of musicians, and it has only one flaw….it’s way too short! Armed with firsthand knowledge of just how hard it was for this project to take flight, holding the length of the EP over the band's head is a little unfair. Tremendous roadblocks were scaled, so just to be able to have these 24 minutes of pure gold in my ears is enough, especially knowing how special this songwriting team is. Guitarist Amadeus Awad’s latest solo EP “Schizanimus” (with songs penned with Elisa Monsef) may be a progressive rock/metal fanboy/musician’s dream, but EON has style more befitting this author, with a formula of mashing heavy music with traditional Middle Eastern and Oriental styles (largely popularized by bands like Orphaned Land, Myrath and others). It is a combination that never grows dull to these ears. There is something about Middle Eastern and Oriental styles that is pure magic when on a collision course with our dearest form of music.

If you aren’t fully engaged by Amadeus Awad’s dancing fretboard, or with the brilliant songwriting team of Awad and vocalist Elia Monsef, then perhaps guest appearances from greats like Russell Allen (Symphony X), Amada Somerville (Avantasia/Trullium), Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater) and John Macaluso (drummer for the world) will entice your interest. With a lyrical concept steeped in ancient Egypt, Allen plays the part of the dying Pharaoh with Somerville the evil Queen who deceives and leaves him dead. Unlike recent albums from a certain Finnish guitarist, who will remain nameless, Awad can have an album properly produced and mixed which brings out the true talents of the guest. The performances on “The Book of Gates” are brilliant, showing there is more than just a “paid willingness” to participate, and instead there is true passion on this release.

“Visions in the Sand” – the acoustic treasure of the release - leads off with an introduction. Monsef just shines here, smooth with just a tiny bit of grit. Already you can hear the undertones of where this story of deception will lead. The orchestration is alluring and the song bleeds right into “The Crown’s Fate,” where we hear the first of the giant heavy riffs from Awad. Somerville’s performance here is one of the best I’ve heard on any album, soft and strong. Allen kicks in with his usual bravado…proving over and over again why he can guest on every album and it would never be too much. The song rides a wave of melody with absurdly gorgeous solos and the heaviness kicks in right when you need it.

“The Book of Gates” – the song – is the crown jewel of the EP. Riffs riding on riffs….it it’s an absolute masterpiece of progressive metal. The main melody rivals that in Ayreon’s instant classic “The Theory of Everything.” The duet of Monsef (“The Necromancer”) and Allen (“The Pharaoh”) is nearly interchangeable, with both set to outdo each other at 3:08, just before Awad lays down a near minute long solo that draws tears out like a Nile flood. The album concludes with “Incarnation,” the Pharaoh’s revenge, and with it the heaviest and best riff sequence on the release. It is the perfect end to a perfect release.

I may expound upon those things that could render the progressive scene dull, but there is nothing dull about it in this form. Taking a page from Master Arjen, Amadeus Awad genuinely lives up to his nickname “The Lebanese Arjen Luccassen.” Pockets of pure power lay hidden like a minefield within an orchestrated masterpiece that is chock full of extraordinary guest performances, only to be topped off by inspiring and eloquent guitar solos. Passing over EON's “The Book of Gates” would simply be a “de-Nile” of true professional and engaging progressive metal.

Highs: Professionally crafted progressive metal in the vein of Ayreon, with astounding guest performances.

Lows: The album is way too short.

Bottom line: "De-Nile" is way more than a river in Egpyt....so don't pass over "The Book of Gates!"

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)