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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$11.36
$8.49 (used)
The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$10.66
$8.10 (used)
Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$5.59
$8.80 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$26.97
$42.41 (used)
AquariusAquarius
Sensory Records 2010
Audio CD$79.95 (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 | 911 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.09 | 917 ratings
Visions
2011
4.16 | 937 ratings
The Mountain
2013
3.94 | 352 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)

4.02 | 83 ratings
Enter The 5th Dimension
2008
4.04 | 164 ratings
Restoration
2014

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.94 | 352 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

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.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.94 | 352 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.94 | 352 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
3.94 | 352 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
3.94 | 352 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
3.94 | 352 ratings

BUY
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 | 917 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
3.94 | 352 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
3.94 | 352 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
3.94 | 352 ratings

BUY
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.

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

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