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4 stars -Before I start the review- Why is this demo named "Enter the 5th Dimension" here in Progarchives? It doesn't say anything regarding to it (or any other name) on the album sleeve I got from the band. As far as I know, this demo is either untitled or named Haken. Strange... anyhow, on with the review. Also, this is my first review and English isn't my first language, so I'm sorry if it's not too great. --------

Here we see a collection of songs made by the band in the years 2007 and 2008, a few years before releasing their highly acclaimed Aquarius that made me (and much other people) gain interest in the band in the first place. This demo was produced in one of the member's house rather than in a studio, so the production is pretty rough and the sound quality could be better, but it's still a highly enjoyable album. The overall sound is similar to the one in Aquarius, if less dark. The Dream Theater influence is pretty clear, but this is very far from being a DT clone. The sound is less "all over the place" in comparison to Aquarius, but there still are some funky circus-sounding parts (particularly in the first track, Blind, which happens to be one of my favorites) and even a short growl in the beginning (in that same song). I personally prefer the 2008 tracks (tracks 1-4) to the 2007 ones (5 and 6), but not by a long shot.

The score isn't perfect because I try to not be too generous with my five stars, and because not all tracks are on the same level, but it's still an excellent demo that does a good job at showing how were the roots of the band. Haken is a band I couldn't recommend more to anyone that even vaguely likes prog or has a good sense of music. 4 stars, which would be followed by a 5 star masterpiece.

Report this review (#479487)
Posted Saturday, July 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Eye opener

When any artist of any kind becomes popular or is brought to new light as a progressor in that field, fans and scholars alike often look to that artist's roots in an attempt to trace his or her path to their renowned greatness. The relatively new progressive metal group Haken is no different. With their incredible debut album Aquarius, they gained instant status within the progressive rock community as one of the "new greats." Being relatively unknown prior to that 2010 release, it was natural for people to begin to dig around and look for previously unreleased material. This search was manifested in the re-release of some of the band's earlier demo material, dating back to the band's formation in 2007. The six song CD runs at nearly an hour, showcasing some of the band's earliest collective recordings. In it the listener can truly hear the roots of Haken's successful style developing within the music. From the pseudo-death metal passages to the fun near-circus music orchestral runs to the overall balance between classic progressive metal and experimental progressive rock, the demo showcases not only a collection of fantastic tunes, but the beginning of a band that is quite clearly on the road to greatness.

True to their debut album's style, the six songs run at a rough average of 10 minutes, ranging from around six minutes to over thirteen. Each song is dynamic, exciting, and jam packed with some truly creative music. Whether the band is chugging along with a killer riff, enjoying a gentle melodic section, or sailing along lines of virtuosic instrumental sections, the band seems to know exactly the right amount of each emotion in their music. I really enjoy how even as a young band the five guys have an excellent degree of chemistry and communication between instrumental as well as vocal parts. No matter the arrangement, each musician contributes fully to the overall atmosphere of the composition, giving each track a truly full sound.

I was impressed originally on the band's debut of their ability to fuse effortlessly melody in a "heavy prog" fashion with the typical prog metal seen in bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X to create something that's not quite what I would call your standard prog metal but also not your average heavy prog. This dynamic is also present on this demo, and in some cases even more so. While the metal moments appear to be denser and heavier than on the debut, the lighthearted melodic sections also seem to be more frequent and "merry" as well, with more free-flowing orchestral arrangements and major-keyed vocal sections. The wider dynamic between the two essential poles of Haken's music give the compositions an even more creative edge, drawing in a wide range of audiences as well as appealing to an eclectic base of tastes.

In the end, despite simply being demos, Haken's early recordings are a true gem for the foreseeable developing fanboy to own. The hour of official unofficial Haken tunes are fit to appear on a full-fledged album, and are a treat really for any fan of the band's creative and fresh style. Of course as demos the production and execution is not the most perfect it could be as one would see on a studio album, but granted these are demos of a mostly independent progressive rock band, one must give the band some credit - the tracks are pretty damn good. Overall, I really enjoyed listening to these tracks and am really looking forward to the release of the band's second album Visions! 4 stars.

Report this review (#556502)
Posted Monday, October 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Surprisingly good album. When it comes to demos, quality is usually quite bad, writing hasn't yet reached the levels it would come and melodies are non-existent (because they often take time and experience). That's not the case with Haken's demo years captured in this nifty little 58 minutes package.

The problem is that it's by certain group called Haken. Nudge-nudge, Wink-wink ? Known for their extraordinary successful 2010 album of epic proportions and scope, their 2011 follow-up which pushed the barrier even further (however unrealistically it sounded at the time) and in just few weeks, coming up with their 3rd studio release which I suppose will do the same. They're just like that.

So the problem is that here we are going back (to the future?), so strong majority of listeners will discover this album after listening their 2010-2013 work. It's like first knowing Gabriel-era Genesis and then discovering their late 70s efforts, the comparison will inevitably be here (even we can try to avoid it).

Haken's demo years are unpolished beauty. Wacky circus sounds are here (different than those on later albums), melodies are here (some were later re-used, some are "new") and concept story elements are mostly missing. There is far less death metal growls than I feared (they simply do not fit well to their music, 'fcourse in my opinion only).

So, it's solid album, you just have to give (peace) Haken a fair chance. Their later work is epic, can't be compared. This is great album too.

Report this review (#1003512)
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permalink

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