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Haken - The Mountain CD (album) cover

THE MOUNTAIN

Haken

 

Heavy Prog

4.20 | 632 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neo-Romantic
5 stars Guys, I heard a perfect album...

I heard a perfect album. I heard an album that somehow manages to throw literally everything at you without becoming overbearing. I heard an album with musicianship of the absolute highest quality that actually rivals the chops of other past masters, and matches technical chops for expressive depth and emotional richness blow for blow. I heard "The Mountain" by Haken.

As I hinted at before, this album has literally everything a fan of heavy, symphonic, eclectic, theatric, and jazz-oriented prog fans could ever think to hear in a single set of songs. I'm not kidding, this album throws in literally everything but the kitchen sink. And yet somehow, it still works without sounding directionless. It's actually a ridiculously focused album, and every musical choice they made is clearly justified and undeniably effective. Take, for example, "Cockroach King", which blends so many different styles within the context of a single piece that covers so much musical territory in under 10 minutes. The shifting meters, tonalities, genres, and instrumental textures are enough to make you stop trying to digest on first listen and just let yourself fall into a submissive state of ecstatic enjoyment. That doesn't happen often for me, but on this album, it happened way more often than in the context of this one song, I guarantee it.

In two words, I would describe this album as triumphant and cinematic. Conceptually and musically, it flows like an epic tale of personal conquest, squalor, and a willingness to pick yourself back up when you fall and continue pushing the boulder up the mountain, even though it may seem so steep and so high. The tracks supplement the imagery and augment the mood. The monolithic grandeur of "Atlas Stone", the frantic desperation of "Falling Back to Earth", and the most gratifying, effective, powerful ending possible with "Somebody" paint a lush musical picture that is both larger than life and inspiring in a realist/optimist sort of way. It implies the journey is challenging, dangerous, and possibly filled with crushing setbacks along the way, but with perseverance, you will overcome anything in your path and be so much stronger than you ever thought possible. The density and activity of the music itself captures and reproduces this message flawlessly.

I can't recommend this album highly enough. It has such strength and presence that you cannot help but be affected by it in some way. The music is dense, challenging, virtuosic, varied, ever-evolving, and wild, but it sure is one fun ride! And believe me, there's emotion to match in every passage. These guys expertly balanced technique with depth in a way I have seldom seen with such ridiculously challenging material. This makes it all the more rewarding, and guarantees wonderful replay value. 5 stars for this album that unapologetically forced its way into my top 10 out of nowhere and is sure to stay for a long time. It's one of the single most gratifying albums I've ever heard, and I can't stress enough how wonderful it is!

Neo-Romantic | 5/5 |

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