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HAKEN

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Haken biography
HAKEN is a young but respected outfit from London that started strong, rose to the top of the progressive market, and ended up producing the 80-minute epic 'Aquarius' in 2010. Initially the band was the project of three school buddies - Richard HENSHALL[guitar/keys], Ross JENNINGS[vocals], and Matt MARSHALL[guitar] - who were soon joined by keyboardist Peter JONES and drummer Raymond HEARNE. With the help of TO-MERA guitarist Tom MacLEAN on bass they recorded a three cut demo in 2007 that received good responses and got the band booked in support of RIVERSIDE that year.

In 2008, JONES and MARSHALL left to pursue other interests and were replaced by guitarist Charlie GRIFFITHS [LINEAR SPHERE/ANCHORHEAD] and the keys of Diego TEJEIDA and after touring to support KINGS X, BIGELF and TO-MERA, Laser's Edge signed HAKEN to their progmetal label Sensory Records.

Musically HAKEN is many-faceted: sometimes song-oriented, sometimes avant-garde, often heavy, and always Prog. A twisted meeting of RUSH, The TANGENT, KANSAS,and hints of Italian symph, the six-piece is sure to please a very wide spectrum of prog listener.

- Atavachron (David) -

See also:

- To-Mera

Haken official website

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AffinityAffinity
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$11.79
$8.05 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$9.99
$10.84 (used)
The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$10.64
$7.20 (used)
Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$5.10
$7.79 (used)
AquariusAquarius
Sensory Records 2010
Audio CD$137.47 (used)
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HAKEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HAKEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 895 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.09 | 900 ratings
Visions
2011
4.16 | 914 ratings
The Mountain
2013
3.98 | 296 ratings
Affinity
2016

HAKEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HAKEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HAKEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HAKEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 83 ratings
Enter The 5th Dimension
2008
4.03 | 156 ratings
Restoration
2014

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Einwahn

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 feelings about the sounds of that least-favoured decade for prog fans. I am definitely in that category and the 'Affinity' concept sounded interesting from the start for me. The album opens with a short track called 'affinity.exe' that is surely a Morse code transmission, not particularly 1980's ... and then the first real track, 'Initiate' rather threw me on first hearing, because it simply sounded like the Dream Theater-inspired music that makes up so much of Haken's first couple of albums (this is not a complaint). But with '1985' (I guess around when this band's members were born), the decade's influence becomes explicit and several of the tracks are in the same vein. But this always sounds like Haken nonetheless, they have a very distinctive sound that could only be mistaken for Dream Theater at times - though with much wider invention.

There is a short episode of 'growling' from Leprous's amazing vocalist Einar Solberg, who can really sing if he wants to. Like others, I am not a big fan of growling, but I note the first two Haken albums each have a growling episode, it isn't an innovation for them. Anyway, it has its artistic purpose I am sure, and it's short.

Well I said I didn't mind the 1980's, and if more of that period's music sounded like this Haken album, I would have absolutely loved it. Every single album of this band is 5 stars for me, they are a major presence in prog rock.

Verdict: the 1980's, improved.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Stiyekton

4 stars Affinity is a great album overall. The first track works very well as an intro and transition into "Initiate," which has an interesting rhythm, catchy but not annoying melody, and great atmosphere. "1985" is a highlight with creative riffs, unusual time signatures, and a really fun instrumental section, and the total 80's feel of the song is fun also. "Lapse" is the inevitable U2-style song, and is one of the weaker tracks on the album, but it is far from a bad song. The epic "The Architect" is another highlight, with an instrumental intro with fun rhythms in different time signatures, a section with more glitch drumming, and a part with growls which are not bad and actually add to the emotion of that part of the song. "Earthrise" is a modern-sounding pop rock track, but with several parts to which it is fun to tap or drum along, and the chorus really highlights Haken's unique vocal style, so it is overall a good track. "Red Giant" is a rather unusual atmospheric track with more electronic drums, and the song starts out slow but it later speeds up. "The Endless Knot" takes repeated listens to get, but it is worth it as it is totally a highlight of the album. This track has more modern influences including djent and dubstep, and this song also has parts in unusual time signatures that are not apparent unless the listener is paying close attention. "Bound by Gravity" is a somewhat boring ballad that is also a bit too long and is in my opinion the weakest track on the album and is a big part of why this album loses a star.
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by stefano

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 it ends and I don't feel like any of the songs stay with me and resonate. Also I really dislike the screaming/ growling on Architect. It seems really out of place. Once again, it is a fairly good song, but marred by a mis-step.
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Hrvat

5 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 definitely here sprinkled throughout nods to the 80s period of bands such as Rush, Yes, King Crimson and Marillion. But that only tells part of the story of this album, as it just as much grounded in modern sounds as it is the 80s. This is seen with a strong djent streak on the album, on songs like Initiate and The Endless Knot. Not the first time the band has had this flavour, but never as prominent as this.

Ultimately its that blend of old and new that makes this album work so well. Every track on this one is great, the stand outs not surprisingly as the epics 1985, The Architect and the underrated Bound by Gravity. The latter of which showcases the lighter side of the band, with a track that will remind listeners of the most emotionally impactful moments of fellow Brits, Anathema.

I had ridiculously high hopes for this album, something which usually would set myself up for disappointment. Yet in this case my expectations were met, if not surpassed. Over 2 months after its release Affinity is still in regular rotation, no better sign of an albums quality.

 Visions by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.09 | 900 ratings

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Visions
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Prog-rock golden boys Haken's second album is an unquestioningly excellent showcase of hard rockin', not-quite- metal, not-quite-classic-prog. Visions has production values and performances that are off the charts with technical competency. This album hits hard, drifts ambiently, and hits all the right notes between. It's a great example of the modern genre. The songwriting is creative and effective, and the vocals passionately delivered. So, is it a masterpiece? (grumble grumble). Maybe.

If you're not familiar with Haken, you probably should be. They're on a winning streak of tremendous prog-rock that is heavier, faster, and more creative than most of the neo-prog bands, but not so noisy and vapid as some of the prog- metal bands; they've found a wonderful balance in their sound that wears classic prog influences on their sleeves, but not in a way that detracts from the listening experience. Visions strongest points are its deep, polished songwriting and impeccable instrumental performances. These guys not only have monster chops, but real instincts on how to use them to create varied and interesting songs. There's a sense of momentum to the album that tells a narrative all by itself, even without the heavy use of lyrics and vocals. Listening is a lot of fun, and feels like a complete experience upon conclusion - exactly how one should feel after listening to this kind of music!

So why not 5 stars? For me, it's the vocals and lyrics. Jennings is a totally competent vocalist, but his voice and lyrics don't resonate with me. The narrative within the lyrics are sort of a weird hybrid of narrative and existentialism that just bounces off of me. It works best when he's in the abstract, singing verses that sound more like poetry instead of trying to string a plot through the whole thing. My other criticism is that the production of the vocals doesn't feel big enough to fill the scope of sound that the band is creating. Jennings' high timbre is sort of crushed by the whirlwind of hard riffing that accompanies him. The sound would benefit from overdubs in a lower register.

So, is it a quibble? Not really, when it contributes to something that prevents an album from creating an emotional response in the listener. But believe me, Visions as a whole is an outstanding album that contains more "wow" moments within songs that you'll hear on the last three Dream Theater albums combined. A worthy addition to any heavy prog lovers' library!

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

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 www.angelosrockorphanage.com

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

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.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by XavierMX

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 succinct as I can about this album.

It takes a lot to be compared to Dream Theater, much less be considered as equal or even better. I'm not even entirely convinced that this album isn't better than anything DT has ever written (coming from a huge DT fan). It doesn't mean that it 'replaces' or 'goes above' DT's best works; but it does occupy a different space altogether, while still maintaining an obvious inspirational influence of DT's style. This space, however, may even inhabit more musical dimensions and sophistication than we've received from DT in years.

I'm not saying they should even be compared to DT. This is just one metric that helps elaborate any discussion on their musical prowess.

***The Highlights (only songs that receive a 5 out of 5)***

Initiate - An intensely dramatic opener (first piece counts more as a set-up/overture to the album) that has soaring melodies and interesting rhythms indicative of Haken's other albums. It's hard to describe this song in words alone, which is yet another hallmark of a great piece of music.

1985 - A multi-faceted epic that is exponentially enhanced by a potential love of 1980s feelings. Even if the 80's weren't your thing, this wonderful piece of music quickly evolves into something more. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Tool's Aenima (title track from the album Aenima) crossed with DT's Octavarium (again, title song from the album). It is dramatic in the same fashion that Initiate is, but includes even more depth and linear continuity. Again, listening to the entire song in order to get the full understanding is required.

The Architect - An epic that will be enjoyed in a widely fashion from person to person. There are musical reasons for this. But suffice to say, it has depth and structure just like most other songs on this album.

Earthrise - Just beautiful and musically complex in its structural simplicity. Depending on your age, the lyrics may also mean something to you.

The Endless Knot - Perhaps the most rhythmically complex song on the album. An exciting climax that comes surprisingly close to the end of the album.

Bound By Gravity - Gets better with subsequent listens.

As you can see, the majority of songs on the album are worthy of near perfect scores. The ones that are not listed here are not bad; in fact, they may rate highly on another band's release. It's just that this album is of such high quality (high and CONSISTENT quality) that it's almost overwhelming to listen to.

Taking into consideration that this is the FOURTH time this band has impressed the world musically with their virtuosity and originality, I wouldn't hesitate to call this group one of the most prominent modern classic bands in the making.

They are definitely worthy of the progressive rock label and worthy of any individual's time... or at least, worthy for those individuals who have a passion for extremely exciting, impressive, and meaningful music. The band themselves, along with this album, will become more appreciated over time. Mark my words.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by RuntimeError

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 has always been rather mediocre, they make up by superb instrumental proficiency and interesting progression within each song. In this record Haken decided to use a lot of choruses, and I mean a lot, and It get's boring quickly. While at the first listen it may seem exiting, you want to skip these parts at your third listen.

However; this record contains wonderful songs and they do put a smile on your face. 'Earthrise' and '1985' are must songs for every progfan to listen this year. The proggy instrumental section at the end of 'Earthrise' is Haken at their best. 'The Architect' offers some nice heavy pounding with some kind of 80's-90's Sci-fi movie soundtrack feeling. Rest of the songs have left me quite underwhelmed unfortunately and I won't be spending too much time with this record anymore.

As said earlier, the production is too much. It fees like every instrument is edited to grid and this record is played by midi sequencers which was not the case for earlier Haken records.

Summary: + Earthrise, 1985, The Architect - Bound by Gravity, Initiate

3,5 stars.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 296 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Timdano

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 latest opus Affinity.

What is perhaps most striking to me is this fairly young band's ability to construct enjoyable songs, rather than virtuosic, boring, exercises-in-musical-masturbation jam sessions (post-Portnoy Dream Theater). After a couple weeks of constant rotation, a thought kept popping into my mind, "this is what Dream Theater should sound like at the latter stage of their careers." But they don't; and these guys do. I'm not complaining.

Affinity has class, soul, brevity, diversity and (arguably my favorite aspect) a pretty damn cool (but not obnoxious or cheesy) 80s vibe. And the album doesn't meander or trail off near the halfway mark; if anything the diversity of soundscapes accelerate to the absolutely beautiful, perfect close, "Bound By Gravity."

These guys seem to be even more on top of their craft than the confidence displayed on the masterpiece The Mountain. They should be very proud of this album. I'm very happy I recently found them. Give it a shot; you'll be happy too.

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates

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