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Haken - The Mountain CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.15 | 1014 ratings

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5 stars Progressive rock and prog metal bands, are of course, often expected to experiment with their sound a little - the clue's in the word "progressive", right? - but even so this often is more the result of a gradual evolution rather than sudden creative leaps, especially when a band has already established a solid reputation with their previous sound and the very real risk of turning off their established fanbase mitigates against wild experimentation.

Haken, I'm glad to say, have shown the courage to take their sound in an intriguing new direction; the Dream Theater and other conventional prog metal influences I heard on their previous albums are scaled back dramatically (as, indeed, is the metal aspect of their sound - there's still plenty of metal here but it's competing with a wider range of influences this time - a bit of ethereal wave here, a bit of jazz-rock there, a bit of symphonic prog over there...), and in the compositions that make up The Mountain they engage in a series of interesting vocal experiments, playing around with harmony, rounds, and other complex intertwined vocal modes. They also incorporate a lot more piano and keyboards too; fans of up-and-coming piano prog duo iamthemorning may find the intro to Atlas Stone, for instance, reminiscent of that outfit's work.

Delving into these experiments to an extent unmatched by any other prog band I can think of with the exception of Gentle Giant and their imitators (and even then, they don't sound much like Gentle Giant here), Haken are clearly following their own blueprint here, and I suspect they might lose a few fans who prefer the more conventional prog metal sound of their previous albums as a result, but hopefully most prog listeners will recognise true originality when they hear it. Haken have grown on me rapidly with successive releases and with The Mountain I think they've finally begun to live up to the hype which surrounded their earlier albums.

Warthur | 5/5 |


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