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Haken - Visions CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.13 | 1109 ratings

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5 stars Haken faced a very difficult obstacle in making this album: beating their outstanding debut. With Aquarius, Haken plunged themselves right into the forefront of progressive metal. And boy did they deserve it; Aquarius was without doubt one of the best progressive albums of 2010. So, here they are with a sophomore release, only a year and a half later (a little earlier than the official release date for the lucky few who attended ProgPower USA), a relatively short time for any progressive artist.

Listening to the album though, proves that you don't always have to wait for a masterpiece. With Visions, Haken have outdone themselves; they have taken the essence and sound that they displayed in Aquarius, removed the excess, and poured style, grace and improved production values into the mix, as well as a few surprising new ideas. The band manages to flow seamlessly between styles and levels, displaying aptitude in an eclectic range while remaining unmistakable and unique in their own sound. There really is never a dull moment in this album - if you want progressive metal/rock that displays incredibly technical virtuosity, but never sacrifices compositional prowess for the sake of it, this is for you. The beautiful, full, sometimes (literally) orchestral sound can be aggressive and exciting, or melancholy and sweet, and is carried forward by Ross Jennings' brilliant understated vocals. These I must compliment emphatically; Jennings' vocals are smooth and emotional; you won't find any disasterous operatic warblings that many progressive metal singers have a horrific propensity for, but he can certainly belt it out with gusto when the situation calls for it. The Mind's eye and the very pretty "soft" track (every prog metal album has to have one, right?) Deathless, are examples of his versatility.

My current highlights include the undeniably epic title track, the relentless and intricate riffing of the instrumental track Portals (constantly moving, but also a prime example of Haken's playful transitions between styles - there are jazz chords, choral moments, even some comedic moments that remind me of a clown-show at the circus), and the many facets of the second (and first full length) track, Nocturnal Conspiracy.

If you liked the last album, if you like progressive rock or metal, if you like music... Listen to this.

jonnyfrostbite | 5/5 |


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