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Haken - Visions CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.13 | 1109 ratings

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4 stars When Haken released Aquarius in 2010 and they were receiving such rave reviews here on PA naturally I was intrigued. I listened to a couple of tracks, admittedly on some tinny poor quality PC speakers and my immediate thoughts were to wonder what all the fuss was about. It all seemed pretty average to me. I put them out of my mind until Visions recently came along receiving an equally enthusiastic response. I decided I'd have to give them another chance and I'm very glad I did because I'm absolutely blown away by it.

I'm not sure what went wrong with my first taste of Haken as for anyone who has a taste for the heavier end of prog, which I do, should find nothing to dislike about them. This album is stuffed full of great music from start to finish, its main strength lying in one great hook after another which gets even better with repeated plays. The strong melodies are instantly infectious, but despite having an excellent vocalist in Ross Jennings where I find the band at their most compelling is when they launch into one of their frequent instrumental workouts. Portals is the perfect example which is an exhilarating five minutes where they constantly shift from one captivating hook to the next and just when you think it must surely take a nosedive they come up with another. On top of this the band are all great players too. The music is often heavy - at its heaviest on the instrumental sections. This is not to say the vocal sections lack power and there are lighter moments here too but they really take things up a notch or two when they rock out on the instrumental parts. It sometimes drifts into metal territory but not often enough to consider Haken a prog metal band and there are symphonic elements too. The title track is a twenty two minute epic filled with all of the above and doesn't disappoint as it shifts through a myriad of changes, but such is the overall standard of the album as a whole it doesn't overshadow the rest the way epic pieces often can.

Overall Visions is a stunning piece of work by anyone's standards. It sounds big, grandiose and is totally compelling and being so close to the end of the year I can confidently say it's going to make my top ten of 2011, even perhaps the top five. Incidentally, since hearing Visions I've since revisited Aquarius in a more detailed manner and can say I clearly missed something that first time around. Whether it grabs me the way Visions has remains to be seen which gets a deserved 4 stars.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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