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Haken - Affinity CD (album) cover

AFFINITY

Haken

 

Heavy Prog

3.92 | 555 ratings

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LearsFool
Prog Reviewer
3 stars As my man, the late great Spaceape, once chanted: One step forward! Two step backward!

We all know Haken. I love Haken. First they blistered through some wonderful prog metal 'n' roll with the one-two punch of "Aquarius" and "Visions", and then they knocked us all out with the mean left hook of "The Mountain". That third album, ladies and gentlemen, the structure, the flow, the instrumentals, the Gentle Giant vocals of "Cockroach King"... you know it's simply one of the best albums of the decade. So obviously, even with the hype around them evaporating, they had a tall order with this one. And they get points for effort, with a nice if increasingly common concept around computers and the effects of technology, and the length of the tracks and album. We knew that it would be good, but now I'm one of the ones asking just how good it actually turned out.

In what has to be both a good and bad sign, the main thing I find myself talking about is the production. There's the step forward, indeed, as everything sounds clearer and tighter. Between that and the structure of the tracks, there's also this cold, logical form that synthesises their first two albums into a whole. Especially in light of the concept, it mostly works. "Affinity" is an enjoyable listen. I'm also pleased with the inclusion of the second CD of the versions of each track, allowing a listener to take the instrumentals in without the vocals, or for crazy people like me to toast over them.

But now we're getting into the issues. In general, there's nothing new, no progression. There's no special payoff for the wait after "The Mountain", which did do things differently, not even a return to anything from that album. The concept falls flat lyrically, paling before, say, last year's 3RDegree album, and in general the vocals are sub-par on top of that, so that CD2 is definitely the better listen. Most of all, though, is that while the instrumentals are entertaining in the moment, they don't leave much of an impression after listening. I remember "The Point of No Return", "Cockroach King", "Falling Back To Earth"... all I remember here is "affinity.exe", the electronic washes that proclaim the album and pique the interest but, like Steven Wilson's "First Regret" last year, is simply more memorable than what follows.

I'm more than happy to give them a pass on this one, it's something that I know I enjoyed from a good band, but they can do much better than this.

LearsFool | 3/5 |

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