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Haken Affinity album cover
3.95 | 680 ratings | 19 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. affinity.exe (1:24)
2. Initiate (4:16)
3. 1985 (9:09)
4. Lapse (4:44)
5. The Architect (15:40)
6. Earthrise (4:48)
7. Red Giant (6:06)
8. The Endless Knot (5:50)
9. Bound by Gravity (9:29)

Total Time 61:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Ross Jennings / vocals
- Charlie Griffiths / guitars
- Richard Henshall / guitars
- Diego Tejeida / keyboards
- Conner Green / bass
- Raymond Hearne / drums

- Einar Solberg / vocals (5)
- Pete Rinaldi / acoustic guitar (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Blacklake

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLTDCD 449 (2016, Germany)
2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 449 (2016, US) Bonus CD with instrumental versions

Thanks to Sr. Valasco for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HAKEN Affinity ratings distribution

(680 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

HAKEN Affinity reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars Haken is a band that take the best of the Progressive Metal music and add their own special twist to it. There is an infectious groove to the complex musical structures of their music. In this new cd, the band decided to let every musician take part to the writing process, which gives the album more variety. The band has been inspired by 80's music, especially obvious in the song "1985" where you'll recognize the 80's keyboards sound, some electronic drums, but also some djent metal. But the highlight of this cd is the epic "The Architect" that display many atmospheres from quiet keyboards lines to heavy guitar riffs. The band goes from a symphonic Dream Theater style to a King Crimson guitar sound where every instrument has the space to shine including some tasty bass lines. The second part of the album contains more atmospheric songs with post-rock/metal ambiance where you see the band incorporated the new technology tools to make the music sound modern. Sometimes the heavy parts don't flow naturally with the quieter parts, left you to wonder where the melody is heading, but overall there is a lot of cohesion in this work. I am not sure that this one is better from previous albums, maybe lacking a bit of consistency from one song to the other, but that what's can happen when you let everyone taking part of the writing. Still a four stars, because it's still Haken!
Review by LearsFool
3 stars As my man, the late great Spaceape, once chanted: One step forward! Two step backward!

We all know Haken. I love Haken. First they blistered through some wonderful prog metal 'n' roll with the one-two punch of "Aquarius" and "Visions", and then they knocked us all out with the mean left hook of "The Mountain". That third album, ladies and gentlemen, the structure, the flow, the instrumentals, the Gentle Giant vocals of "Cockroach King"... you know it's simply one of the best albums of the decade. So obviously, even with the hype around them evaporating, they had a tall order with this one. And they get points for effort, with a nice if increasingly common concept around computers and the effects of technology, and the length of the tracks and album. We knew that it would be good, but now I'm one of the ones asking just how good it actually turned out.

In what has to be both a good and bad sign, the main thing I find myself talking about is the production. There's the step forward, indeed, as everything sounds clearer and tighter. Between that and the structure of the tracks, there's also this cold, logical form that synthesises their first two albums into a whole. Especially in light of the concept, it mostly works. "Affinity" is an enjoyable listen. I'm also pleased with the inclusion of the second CD of the versions of each track, allowing a listener to take the instrumentals in without the vocals, or for crazy people like me to toast over them.

But now we're getting into the issues. In general, there's nothing new, no progression. There's no special payoff for the wait after "The Mountain", which did do things differently, not even a return to anything from that album. The concept falls flat lyrically, paling before, say, last year's 3RDegree album, and in general the vocals are sub-par on top of that, so that CD2 is definitely the better listen. Most of all, though, is that while the instrumentals are entertaining in the moment, they don't leave much of an impression after listening. I remember "The Point of No Return", "Cockroach King", "Falling Back To Earth"... all I remember here is "affinity.exe", the electronic washes that proclaim the album and pique the interest but, like Steven Wilson's "First Regret" last year, is simply more memorable than what follows.

I'm more than happy to give them a pass on this one, it's something that I know I enjoyed from a good band, but they can do much better than this.

Review by Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The sound of a computer bleeping, in a science fiction way, sounds from my headphones. It is followed by vaguely human noises underneath an industrial soundscape, which floats seamlessly into a bass and guitar riff. A riff that stops abruptly to make room for a synth sound and the high pitched voice of Ross Jennings, a pattern that repeats a couple of times - forming a track called Initiate. The initial sounds, which lasted about a minute and a half were for Affinity, the opening and title track of Haken's 2016 release.

After hearing Mountain, their 2013 release, early last year, and seeing them live at the Night of the Prog Festival in Germany, I was quite interested in hearing this release. A release that surprised me a bit, because it sounds very different from Mountain. Much less the 'metal version' of Gentle Giant (the brilliant Cockroach!), this album has a slightly more 'electronic' feel to it, with synths and keyboards that, on 1985, even remind me sometimes of 1980s Rush and Asia - but with a modern twist and a heavy edge to it - and lots of room for quiet, melodic and atmospheric parts.

At the point I heard this, I had a look at the press release that InsideOut records included with the promo material. Indeed, Haken made a conscious choice this time to work with their influences from the 1980s instead of the 1970s. And with good result - the album sounds fresh, different from what they did before, with recognisable parts in it but never a copy of what was done before. That same 1985, which is according to the band influenced by the likes of 90125, Toto IV and Three of a Perfect Pair, also contains heavy guitar, bass and drum work as to be expected from what is still labelled a progressive metal act. This track, and the 15 minute epic The Architect alone make the album worth the money. The Architect mixes heavy sections with atmospheric ones, making it into a muscial trip through the 1980s and the 21st century. At one point I as surprised to hear a death metal vocal, which I hadnt' expected from Ros Jennings. And rightly so, because fo this piece, Haken had invited Leprous vocalist Einar Solberg.

Every track besides those mentioned has it's merits on this album, a mouth watering source of variation and musicianship. The 80s electronics of Lapse, the poppiness of Earthrise, the sustained beat of Red Giant, the whirling of the guitar that comes back later in the synths on The Endless Knot, and the spacy atmosphere of Bound by Gravity.

After being surprised by them on Night of the Prog, was planning on going to see Special Providence end of May at De Boerderij in Zoetermeer, and now that I know they are support act for Haken, who are there to promote this new album, that plan will have to become reality. A six piece that may stick with us for a few more years.

Also published on my blog

Review by FragileKings
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.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK Prog-metal with crossover appeal band Haken are now up to their fourth album (fifth if you throw in their great `Restoration' EP from 2014 that runs for over 33 minutes, which is longer than many 70's prog discs, so let's count that too!), coming after their well-received occasionally Seventies-flavoured `The Mountain' in 2013, an album that lifted their profile considerably in the prog community, even if opinions on it are still divided today! 2016 sees them return with `Affinity', this time adopting a frequent Eighties sheen and AOR power to their always soaring pieces (and ditching the Gentle Giant obsessions of their previous two discs along the way), and it's one of their most accomplished, varied and sophisticated musical statements to date. `Affinity' is not so much a concept work as a collection of tracks with a loose shared sci-fi theme, and despite offering some of their purest metal moments, it also remains powerfully and endlessly melodic with smart choruses in between the delirious and bombastic instrumental technicality going on around the strong tunes.

After a mysterious lightly industrial intro, `Initiate' is an introspective and gently melancholic rocker with a tougher late-era Porcupine Tree-like bluster that, while probably one of the least interesting tracks on the disc, improves into a reliably easy opener on repeated listens that gets the blood flowing right from the start. But the first `wow' moment hits with `1985' that bounces with a buoyant Eighties vibe, grooving bass and snappy drumming powering the piece, and it's unsurprising to learn that keyboard player Diego Tejeida was greatly influenced by composer Vince DiCola, as the synth-heavy instrumental spot at the 5:45 minute completely recalls his E.L.P-styled soundtrack to the fondly remembered `Transformers' animated film of the same decade! Add in some snarling heavy riffs, a battery of pummelling drums and an earworm chorus delivered with precision from lead vocalist Ross Jennings that refuses to quit grafted to infectiously cheesy stadium rock fanfare, and it's shamelessly "Prog" dialled up to eleven with a side order of guilty-pleasure!

A shorter piece with the hopeful and romantic qualities of Coheed and Cambria, `Lapse' is another reflective rocker with a lofty chorus that bookends an impossibly tight little blitzkrieg soloing spasm (little shades of Yes' Steve Howe in there!). But the centrepiece of the album is the frequently Tool/Porcupine Tree-like fifteen-plus minute `The Architect', and despite it being loaded with an endless variety of hard-riffing grooves, slithering bass and powerhouse drum-work, making it one of Haken's most balls-out gutsy metal efforts to date, it also incorporates some sublime slinking electronic programming, ambient passages and ethereal floating voices (although a brief guest vocal from Leprous' Einar Solberg in an Opeth-like passage at about the ten minute mark may push the friendship for some older prog listeners, but to be fair, its more `tortured pained moan' than `death metal growl'!).

Another stream-lined piece `Earthrise' is an unashamedly power AOR/80's pop-rocker with a catchy chorus, yet not overly simplistic and obnoxiously radio/chart-friendly, and the fanfare synth break in the middle reminds of the first (good!) Asia LP and the E.L.Powell album. The moody `Red Giant' is more concerned with building a sombre atmosphere but delivers a surprising up-tempo sprint in the second half over sighing harmonies, and the breathless `The Endless Knot' is crammed full of stop-start spiralling electronics and frantic snapping drumming with a hopeful anthem-like chorus. Nine-minute closer `Bound by Gravity' begins as a classy and dreamy ballad of great hope to a low-key ambient synth backing that slowly has the group coming together in restrained drama, with little traces reminding of the most recent Anathema albums before a powerhouse symphonic finale.

While there's occasional little dull moments and the album initially feels overlong at just over an hour, the trick here is to really commit to giving it plenty of spins. Take the time to read into the lyrics, listen closely to how carefully controlled Jennings' vocals are and especially pay close attention to the variety of the lavish instrumental elements (try to pick up one of the two-CD special editions that have a bonus completely instrumental version of the album on a bonus disc). There's such a joyful energy to so much of the soloing that proves hugely addictive, the choruses are frequently anthemic without being dumbed down easy AOR, and the disc archives a great balance of accessible and technical qualities throughout.

Placing it alongside other heavy rock/metal discs of note of the last year or so, it's more focused and punchier than Dream Theater's bloated if ambitious `The Astonishing', not as fanbase opinion-dividing as Opeth's `Sorceress', and certainly much more complex and weightier than Riverside's `Love, Fear...'. `Affinity' sits alongside Headspace's `All That you Fear is Gone' as one of the most surprising and musically rich metal-related albums of 2016, and it's another winner for the hugely talented group that is Haken.

Four stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Electronic gadgets, the 80s, modern metal, prog, HAKEN: 8/10 HAKEN is one of the most prominent progressive rock bands of modernity, especially after the media attention they received following the release of THE MOUNTAIN (2013). It was through that album I was introduced to them, and while I ... (read more)

Report this review (#1775577) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Saturday, August 26, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was impressed by 'The Mountain', having discovered it long after it was released, so I had high expectations for 'Affinity'. These have largely been met. I agree with others who regard 'The Architect' as the best track. It is my favourite track of 2016 - I love its adventure, its range of mood ... (read more)

Report this review (#1676884) | Posted by dmwilkie | Saturday, January 7, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The artwork for this album mimics a floppy disk sleeve, and has the perfect green phosphor colour of CRT screens... it is so nostalgic for anyone who remembers the era of MS-DOS, NewWord & Space Invaders. Of course, a 1980's inspired album does require the listener to have retained some positive ... (read more)

Report this review (#1600731) | Posted by Einwahn | Wednesday, August 24, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Affinity does not rise to the heights of The Mountain or Visions. It has a fun 1980s feel to it that I partly enjoy. But where are the songs that grab a hold of the listener and don't let go? Maybe The Mountain was too hard an act to follow and surpass. I think Affinity is a pretty good CD but ... (read more)

Report this review (#1598448) | Posted by stefano | Wednesday, August 17, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've been a Haken fan for a very long time, discovering the band back with their debut Aquarius. Its been quite a journey watching them grow and evolve. With Affinity they have delivered what for me is their best album to date. Much has been made of the 80s influence on this album, you can def ... (read more)

Report this review (#1584979) | Posted by Hrvat | Tuesday, July 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's unfortunate that there are those who would even consider rating this work something less than '4 stars'. The debate between 4 and 5 is beyond the scope of any necessary review. Better we leave that to the forums or party conversation. I'm typically too verbose, so I will try and be as succin ... (read more)

Report this review (#1567104) | Posted by XavierMX | Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Very good, but overproduced record leaves you empty handed after a couple of listens. Haken's latest, 'Affinity' offers something very different compared to 'The Mountain'. The band decided to go to a different direction, which is certainly a good thing for a prog band. While Haken's songwriting ... (read more)

Report this review (#1565885) | Posted by RuntimeError | Monday, May 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Affinity af·fin·i·ty əˈfinədē/ noun -noun: affinity; plural noun: affinities -a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something. Well, as a lover of all that is prog, I unequivocally experienced a spontaneous and/or natural liking to Haken's la ... (read more)

Report this review (#1562544) | Posted by Timdano | Friday, May 13, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I feel compelled to write a review for this album since may of the existing reviews do not treat this album fairly. I have to admit I'm a huge fan of Haken, and find that their work has gotten progressively (see what I did there?) more impressive and unique with each album. Rating this a 3 or ... (read more)

Report this review (#1561476) | Posted by SbMSU | Thursday, May 12, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I just recently got into Haken's stuff, and some of it utterly blew my mind. Tracks like "Celestial Elixir", "Visions", or basically anything on "The Mountain", made this album one of my most highly anticipated releases of the year. If you go in with such high expectations, I'll say that it does ... (read more)

Report this review (#1559306) | Posted by TheWall7 | Thursday, May 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars So close.. I anxiously awaited this release, as a huge fan of The Mountain, this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and now that it has come, how does it live up to my hype? Meh. Slated to be a throwback late 80's/90's album, this seemed right up my alley, but now that it's ... (read more)

Report this review (#1558884) | Posted by jazz2896 | Wednesday, May 4, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's not all rainbow high-tops, ghetto blasters and swatch watches -- but it is a bodacious album to listen to! For those who had the opportunity to listen to Haken's Visions and Aquarious, they were offering a renewed vigor at a time when the Dream Theater phase was starting to get grody. Li ... (read more)

Report this review (#1558664) | Posted by buddyblueyes | Tuesday, May 3, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Still at the top of prog! I was blown away by the Mountain, and, to be honest, I couldn't imagine anything coming close to it's greatness. Boy was I wrong. Haken were able to give yet another new cool spin to their already awesome music. 80's influence was there, especially in "1985", heavine ... (read more)

Report this review (#1557263) | Posted by Blackwater Floyd | Friday, April 29, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was already very curious to hear what Haken would have come up with for their fourth full length. After reading in Prog that they were going for 80s influences I was - as they anticipated most people to be - quite sceptical. The two singles already released beforehand - Initiate and The Endles ... (read more)

Report this review (#1557000) | Posted by arschiparschi | Friday, April 29, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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