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Haken - Visions CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.13 | 1109 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars London-based progressive metal outfit Haken immediately gained a reputation as one of the new decade's biggest talents with the release of 2010's Aquarius, and Visions proves that they have no intent of slowing down. The band's unique and modern blend of progressive rock and metal is still fully in-tact, and Visions effectively delivers over seventy minutes of top-notch progressive metal wizardry. Make no mistake - Visions is anything but a sophomore slump, and I'd even venture to say that this is a notch above their masterful debut album. This is a well-composed, focused, and mature masterpiece of modern progressive metal. Absolutely essential.

With Aquarius, Haken established a distinct blend of progressive metal that, while still drawing heavily from the likes of Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, sounded totally original and unique. Visions is more or less that same exact style, but a lot more focused and mature (in my mind, at least). Any flaws that were found on Aquarius - which were, admittedly, not very many - are nowhere to be found on Visions. Gone are the out of place growled vocals, as well as a few of the more unfocused sounding instrumental sections of Aquarius. Visions strikes me as a very polished, mature, and concise work of art - although the songs are exceptionally long and complex, and the full album exceeds the seventy-minute mark, there's hardly a weak moment found on Visions.

The first thing that will grab the attention of most prog fans is probably the epic, 22-minute title track. On this song especially, Haken's masterful abilities as composers are shown in full-force; through all of the complexity and odd time signature shifts, there's not an awkward transition anywhere in sight. Any listener should not let this overshadow the rest of their listening experience, though - the other sixty minutes or so are every bit as amazing. The Porcupine Tree-sounding 'Deathless' is another big highlight, with its somber lyrics and melancholic keyboard textures sending shivers up my spine every time. 'Nocturnal Conspiracy' is probably the other highlight, with Ross Jennings's fantastic vocal performance grabbing my attention immediately. Picking highlights is rather difficult, however, when the entire album is this damn good.

One thing that really took me by (pleasant) surprise about Haken's debut was how professional and confident they sounded as musicians - that's still definitely the case with Visions. All five instrumentalists are technically outstanding and musically pleasing to listen to, and every single one of them delivers their fair share of jaw-dropping moments throughout Visions. Ross Jennings's vocals are also powerful and unique - he sounds very different from your average prog metal vocalist, and I think his mid-range style is another factor that helps give Haken their own identity.

To top things off, Visions also sports a remarkable production job. The mix is evenly spaced and every instrument is powerful and clear, resulting in a modern sound that is simply unbeatable. If you've got a good pair of headphones on, it sounds almost as if the band is right next to you playing the music - this really sounds that good.

While perhaps less adventurous than Aquarius, Visions is an equally terrific (and possibly even more mature and concise) masterpiece from Haken. I'm not one to usually feed the hype machine, but this British prog metal act is one case where you truly must believe the hype - so far these guys have crafted two stunning masterpieces over the course of about a year. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next exports from Haken, and in the meantime I'll keep enjoying the hell out of Visions. Of course, 5 stars are the least I can give here. 2011 has been a year filled with great albums (particularly in the prog metal genre), but Visions is a truly essential masterpiece that should be experienced by any fan of progressive rock and metal. So after two amazing albums in a row, all I have left to say is 'keep up the great work'!

J-Man | 5/5 |


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