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Haken - Affinity CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.92 | 451 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Haken were already a band gathering notice rapidly with their first two releases, and their third album "Mountain" clearly cemented their position as a modern progressive band to be reckoned with. Combining heavy prog with progressive metal and adding warm piano pieces with delicate vocals, or an A cappella track that included Gregorian chant, gospel harmonies, and modern pop singing with counterpoint vocals, "Mountain" was a monumental release. How would they follow up this one?

Well, Haken wisely put a new album aside and decided instead to revisit some older tracks and remix them, coming up with "Restoration". They then went ahead with recording this album of fresh material, "Affinity".

One of the things you will notice here is much of the warmth and human feeling of "Mountain" is gone and replaced with a colder, more mechanical sound, largely in the keyboard sounds but at times also in the guitar. At times this album reminds me of Symphony X's "Iconoclast"; at the beginning of "The Architect" the eerie and ominous effects sound like Jet Black Sea; and in at least a couple of places I'm reminded of Devin Townsend or classic heavy Dream Theater. But make no mistake that this is Haken, most easily recognizable by Ross Jennings' vocals.

Haken have served up another highly technical and varied album with "Affinity". While it's certainly tough to top "Mountain" and some have commented that this album seems colder, there are still some excellent songs on here. Haken prove themselves to be master of odd time signatures and even counterpose two, for example a slow and steady drum beat against guitar that plays like a menacing spider trying to climb up an icy slope. The instrumental part that opens "The Architect" explores many odd signatures and keeps you guessing before the music settles down enough for the lyrics to be sung. And while there are some truly excellent heavy parts to rival a prog metal band's ability, there are still softer and warmer music interludes such as the final track "Bound by Gravity" which begins like a soundtrack for a scene of dawn over a frosty autumn or frozen winter lake.

One of the first tracks to capture my ears was "The Endless Knot". The lyrics are sung in a quick and hurried manner like we must keep struggling and must hurry. This is quite different from many other songs where the words are stretched out more so that there's like one word to a bar sometimes. Then at about 2:20 there's this totally heavy, dance bass that just vibrates all the speakers and woofers and wooden flooring. It's very cool in this song here when coupled with the heavy guitar chords.

Two other favourite tracks are "1985" which includes a mid-eighties styling, a drop down heavy bass part, and a modern Haken take on lighter heavy prog, and "The Architect" which is the longest track on the album and explores the heavier aspects of Haken's style in a variety of complex melodies at the beginning and end of the song.

Though I don't enjoy this album as much as I do "Mountain", I still think it's an album worth having. It's different from its predecessor which I think is a good thing. The band are trying new things and not stagnating after their big success.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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