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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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Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$4.48
$4.47 (used)
MountainMountain
Inside Out U.S. 2013
Audio CD$11.23
$7.93 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$9.82
$7.76 (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)

4.07 | 837 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.09 | 832 ratings
Visions
2011
4.17 | 830 ratings
The Mountain
2013

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)

4.03 | 74 ratings
Enter The 5th Dimension
2008
3.93 | 102 ratings
Restoration
2014

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Visions by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.09 | 832 ratings

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Visions
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars If you ever wondered whether Haken can be best classified as heavy prog or prog metal, chalk this album up as a firm evidence for the latter. This is Haken's most Dream Theater-like release, combining the signature mix of symphonic complexity, metal loudness, high-speed soloing and saccharine pop sensibilities, but with more weirdness thrown in (computer game sounds, Latin beats). Hey, the group credits two guys both for guitar and the keyboards. Even the somewhat whining vocal of Ross Jennings reminds of Dream Theater. Anyway, this a deliciously over-the-top album, culminating in the 20-minute Visions . Sure, the vocal and the narration drag on a bit, but otherwise this song finds Haken firing on all cylinders.

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.17 | 830 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Mountain is top-tier art rock that shimmers with complexity, intensity, thoughtfulness, and a heavy metal crunch. I shied away from Haken's early releases (not caring for the vocalist from what I heard on samples), but am very glad I was swayed by the avalanche of praise here on ProgArchives. Is The Mountain a masterpiece? It's pretty darn close, and even though I'm giving it "only" 4 stars, it is a highly recommended and fulfilling experience.

We open in typical prog rock fashion with the overture to the album that introduces the premise of ascension through the human experience (via the mountain metaphor), and emotive vocal work by Jennings. It has sort of a candle in the dark feel that sets the stage for the grandiose "Atlas Stone" that follows. This is a great track that features the band's signature of complex writing that features punctuation of intensity with mellow moments scattered throughout. It's nothing especially new for fans of this kind of music, but Haken performs it exceptionally well, with very tight playing that sounds crisp and focused. Jennings lyrics and vocals are melodic and optimistic; this is a feel good track that doesn't disappoint.

"Cockroach King" is a quirky follow-up that features massive, crunching guitar riffs juxtaposed to bouncy vocals that echo Gentle Giant or early Spock's Beard. The band outs a ton of sound, and isn't afraid to kick your teeth in even in a playful song.

"In Memoriam" has the rhythm section creating a scintillating tension that cooks beneath complex riffing by guitarist Griffiths and (I assume) Henshall. "Because It's There" reprises the overture to the album, set to overlapping choral work that gives way to sweeping melodies. This brings up one of my criticisms to The Mountain: this track is clearly meant to be an emotional touch-stone of the album, but it sort of falls flat. Jenning's vocals are in a high register and don't always connect, even though the lyrics are engaging. Its sort of a quibble, but I noticed it enough for it to draw me out of the piece.

"Falling Back to Earth" is probably the highlight of the album. It's a centerpiece that uses Icarian metaphors to transition the album into a darker place intellectually. The song does a great job creating dramatic tension, with driving melodies and guitar/keyboard interplay that shifts into a etheric plucking and atmospheres at the half-way point. A great showcase of the band's song writing. This is kept up in the also excellent "Pareidolia." Things get more abstract the deeper we go.

The closing song is unfortunately not as strong as the preceding songs. It's set up well but doesn't feel like it wraps up the musical ideas it creates, just sort of ending on an unsatisfying fade out.

So all in all a great album. The Mountain is highly energetic, has powerful dynamics, impeccable instrumental delivery, and good (but not great) vocals. The lack of emotional connection for me is the only detractor in what is otherwise a first rate art rock experience. Highly recommended!

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

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.17 | 830 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by ScottTisdel

5 stars This is more a review of Haken's live show, but there is a lot about the music of "The Mountain" as well. Hopefully die-hard fans and novices alike will enjoy reading it. SKT

Haken at Reggies Rock Club in Chicago, IL 4/26/15

"HO-LY SHIT!!! HO-LY SHIT!!!" Such was the refrain a couple of months ago at Reggie's, but I still remember it like it was yesterday - Delirious concert-goers shouted, banging the edge of the stage, after the British band Haken finally left the stage for good at 12:30 am. This was after they played their final piece, the epic and masterful 20 minute "Crystallised" from their brand new EP Restoration, AND played as their encore the even more massive title cut from Visions, clocking in at 22 mins. Finally, drummer Raymond Hearne came out rather sheepishly and told the crowd, in his cultured British accent, "I'm sorry, but we really have to put away our gear now". And he was right - Haken was in the middle of one of those grueling 10-cities-in-11-days tours, and were playing Detroit tomorrow night. Having not yet hit the big time, they were probably traveling by bus.

Of course everyone screams and yells at rock concerts, whether it is any good or not. If bands don't get the requisite level of enthusiasm, they try to drum it up artificially. But this was something different - It was genuine, spontaneous enthusiasm, but mixed with awe and a sense of disbelief at what they had just witnessed. Yes, Haken was THAT good that night in Chicago. If my jaw could have hit the floor that night, it would have been there for the entire 2 hour show.

And, they did it, amazingly, without their leader, main songwriter, and helluva lead guitar player Richard Henshell. (According to lead singer Ross Jennings, he was ill - Hopefully nothing serious.) I know the songs VERY well, and Henshell's parts were covered amazingly by Diego Tejeida (keys) and Charles Griffiths (2nd guitar). New bassist Conner Green held his own, taking a couple of Henshell's lines and playing as brilliantly as everyone else. Only once did I notice some sampling to help out Tejeida on "Cockroach King" (Yes, Henshell plays great keys, too!). Still, it would have been an even more phenomenal concert if Henshell had been there, if that is even possible to imagine. Hopefully I'll have the chance to hear him in future tours.

So, where to start (and where to stop!) when trying to describe why Haken is so great? Of course, it starts with the actual music. Haken certainly fits the bill for prog: Lots of virtuosity, odd time signatures, dense counterpoint, but what sets Haken apart is how well the songs are put together. There is no meandering, no endless soloing, no mindless repetition. Haken is a band that can write an 8 or 9 minute song and make it seem short. This is best exemplified by their latest full album The Mountain, where every single song is compelling and compact, despite the fact that four of the songs approach or exceed the 10 minute mark. Fortunately, they played almost the entire album that night in Chicago, to the delight of the crowd. (And they played all the songs uncut, even though they had a great excuse in Henshell's absence. For instance, there is a "single edit" version of "Cockroach King" on youtube that they did NOT use.)

And Haken knows how, amid all the prog complexity, to write a good tune that is truly memorable. Often the refrains are the perfect opportunity to do this - Such is the case with "Altas Stone" and "Falling Back to Earth". The latter, with its Sonata form-like 3 part structure, energetic riffing (including some truly incredible guitar playing at the 4:00 min mark), and wonderfully satisfying climax at the end, is the favorite of many fans, judging from internet reviews. But even more impressive is "Atlas Stone", which does almost the impossible - Write simple melodies in regular meter over an extremely irregular, jagged accompaniment and maintain this polyrhythm throughout the 7 1/2 minutes of the song! I've actually spent a lot of time trying to figure out the rhythms of "Atlas Stone", which go by incredibly fast. I won't bore you with the details, but they are various combinations of 11/16 and 10/16, mixed together in unpredictable ways. Somehow, Haken writes melodies over this that sound like a much slower 4/4!! Furthermore, they can do it live - I'm a witness!

My favorite song though, is probably "In Memorium", another breathlessly energetic number in syncopated 7/8, with another great melodic refrain. At the 3:00 mark there is a passage that is so rhythmically complex that even I have been unable to figure it out, yet they played it flawlessly live. Then, just when you expect the refrain to come back, Haken launches into a new melodic idea, with new harmonies. There is so much packed into this song that it probably could have been twice as long!

But, Haken not all bind-blowing rhythms and amazing virtuosity, like so much prog these days. Haken actually has a sense of humor, most obviously on "Cockroach King" with skittering guitars and synths imitating the roaches scurrying across the floor. Also, especially on The Mountain, Haken is not afraid to cut it way back, and write very delicate, intimate songs for just voice and piano. Such is the case with the beautiful and serene "The Path", and the gorgeous "As Death Embraces", both played live in Chicago. Here is where lead singer Ross Jennings really has a chance to shine, and shine he did. Such songs, along with "Because It's There" and "Somebody" provide a needed respite from the frenetic intensity of the rest of the album, and they had the same effect in the live show.

Of course it is one thing to write and record an album like The Mountain in the studio, and quite another to be able to pull it off live. This starts with lead singer Ross Jennings, who was just astounding. Jennings has a voice that reminds me of Jon Anderson of Yes, very clear and boy-soprano like, yet with enough oomph to cut through the densest music easily. He has charisma to burn and an amazing range of expression, from metal growling to serene innocence. Likewise for his actual vocal range, which I calculated as over 2 1/2 octaves. There were things he covered in Chicago that I had assumed, from listening to the albums, were done by a different singer. (If you listen to the beginning of "Falling Back to Earth", you will hear Jennings use 3 different voices on the 3 verses, like he was Jekyll and Hyde + 1!) Perhaps most incredibly, he sang everything perfectly in Chicago, with nary a strained note, fuzzy rhythm, or word out of place. And we're taking about some really complex, difficult music here!

So it was a great time in Chicago, fully worth the schlepp. One of the great things about live concerts is that you see people who are just as passionate about the music as you are - There were many who seemed to know every word of every song, including the new EP Restoration, which has been out less than a year and is only available through Haken's website. The crowd was in a great mood throughout the long evening, even though we had to endure two woeful opening acts, pushing Haken's starting time back to 10:30. I even left my newly bought Haken TShirt in the bathroom and some good samaritan gave it back to the merch table! When I decided to get another one, the girl remembered me and gave it back to me for nothing! I was shocked - How often does that happen at a rock concert?! Yes, it was that kind of special evening in Chicago.

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.17 | 830 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by flamenco

5 stars Wow. As a dedicated Gentle Giant fan (since 1970s) I had never heard of Haken until a few weeks ago when my son told me he'd seen their name crop up over and again when viewing GG on YouTube. So found them and listened. Wow.

The Mountain is now right up in my top 10 albums. (And no, I have avoided the awkward decision as to which album is now out). A fabulously varied collection of pieces which all show a group of musicians at the very top of their game.

The vocal harmonies, arrangements and intricacies are outstanding.

Unlike others, I love the pure piano and voice of As Death Embraces. It is an exquisite piece. Likewise Because It's There displays vocal writing and performance of outstanding quality.

There are instrumental touches in all parts throughout this album to delight and demand attention and as always in music of quality, repeated listening.

I remain utterly astonished that music of this complexity, assurance and verve is being produced right now. As a huge Gentle Giant fan, I am just so delighted.

Wow.

Looking forward to seeing you guys in Nottingham in September 2015.

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 Restoration by HAKEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.93 | 102 ratings

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Restoration
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm going both go against the grain (given some folks' criticism of this album) and set a new personal first (never given 5 stars to an EP) and call this album a masterpiece of progressive rock.

I'm late to the game in truly appreciating Haken, although I have been monitoring their buzz and attention on ProgArchives and at festivals and live events. There were a number of aspects to their previous works (a bit derivative, playful bits that were perhaps a bit more childish than interesting, etc.) that just kept me from really coming back (although I have to admit that I have overcome some of these reservations in more recent times).

I can find none of these nitpicks on this album. There are no extraneous or repetitive parts. There are no playful bits that make me cringe the first time I hear them. There is no pushing of vocals beyond what I would consider to be tasteful or out of range. Instead, this is the work of a band that appear to be songwriting and recording pros. Of course, given that this album consists of reimagining prerecorded material (which I admit to not having heard), there is perhaps a bit of irony to my initial stance. On the other hand, it could instead be the case that Haken are more able to cut the fat and get down to business in a way that they were not able to when first starting out. I'm going to go with the second option. I love every second of this album, and there are very, very few albums about which I can say this.

Darkest Light is the rifferific opener, and it is great throughout, and just bursting with creativity and variety. Sometimes with the syncopated bits and thundering bass lines, I hear the brutality of some of my favorite Leprous material, only to be pushed out of my short term memory by a crunching riff that worms into my brain. I wouldn't want a whole album of this, but it's an excellent slice of prog metal in my book.

Earthlings is the haunting comedown from the opener, and it is captivating to my ears throughout. Relying much more on traditional song structure, this song really works due to the musicality (note: not technicality) involved, from each slight guitar vibrato to subtle bass crescendo. And just when the traditional song structure might begin to tire, a powerful and understated outtro takes us home. Great atmosphere and restraint throughout.

Crystallised represents the band's finest epic in opinion. Although earlier extended songs contained undeniable high quality material, there were either moments of extending too far (Visions) or not quite nailing the change-of-pace sections (Celestial Elixir), with this song I hear a procession of creative and well-executed ideas, strung together in a way that flows quite nicely, and transitioned expertly. This song has just about anything I could want from Haken, from a killer guitar solo to open the middle section to inspired and energetic vocal harmonies to the grandiose conclusion.

There you go: a great album throughout, without a second that I wouldn't qualify as excellent. So what if it's under 35 minutes??? If I don't hold it against Rush, than I'm not going to hold it against Haken either. I'm certainly looking forward to what Haken might come up with next!

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 Restoration by HAKEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.93 | 102 ratings

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Restoration
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by progadicto

3 stars Have to say that Haken turns into one of my fav bands during this last years. The mixture of hard prog metal sections and pure symphonic movements is very intense and totally captivating.

Perhaps the three songs of this EP are not totally original but renewed versions of old tracks, I really appreciate Haken hard work which turns this songs into very powerful and surprising epics.

Even when I feel a certain lack of creativity in here, the album has in "Darkest Light" a great and strong metal opener that sounds a little bit "Dream Theater" to me. "Earthlings" is the more "melodic" song of this EP and have some awsome dark atmospherical moments based on guitar. The long epic "Crystallised" is an almos 20 minutes mixture of all the styles played by Haken on their previous albums, from pure prog metal to experimental and delightful complex sections.

Not the best of Haken but a very strong bunch of songs that confirms Haken as one of the most interesting bands nowadays... 3.5*

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.17 | 830 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by steelyhead

4 stars I sat stunned when I finished listening for the third time this CD in a couple of days. So much harmony, so much clever ideas, so much perfect music blasting thru my earphones.

This is my first experience with this group and surely will not be my last because the have the vocal harmonies from Gentle Giant, The fierce playing of Rush and just the delicate keyboard this side of Supertramp.

There's too much to tell here: Oustanding songs: Cockroach King, Atlas Stone, As Death Embraces and maybe the whole CD. And the players and the main voice is superb.

This is exactly how prog should be played in this century so far away from 1976. This is somethig You gotta heard to believe. Not to be missed.

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 Restoration by HAKEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.93 | 102 ratings

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Restoration
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Fearabsentia

4 stars Haken-Restoration

'Restoration' is Haken's re-recordings of three songs from their 2008 demo 'Enter the Fifth Dimension'. I find this interesting though, this new EP actually shows them heavier and less apt to copy other bands. There is still definitely a Dream Theater influence, but it's not as prominent and comes up at better times. Unfortunately, it still shows them copy Gentle Giant at the end, but they're getting there as far as 'being their own band' goes.

It begins with a very strong opener 'Darkest Light', where Ross Jennings's vocals are very strong. The keyboards fit surprisingly well with the crunching guitar, and this is a much heavier song then anything that was on 'The Mountain'. If you have a good ear for bass like I do, I'm sure you'll also be able to hear the great bass work given by Conner Green. The next song 'Earthlings' is a softer melancholy track. Unlike the soft songs on 'The Mountain', however, this song isn't a ballad and is actually more akin to a melancholy Porcupine Tree song such as 'Heartattack in a Layby'. This isn't a copy though, this is a unique song. It's nice how they started out with the heavy 'Darkest Light', then went to 'Earthlings', it shows that they are powerful in both styles.

The final song is the suite 'Crystallised'. It's unfortunate that this is a song that has almost everything about Haken that originally annoyed me. This sounds more like an outtake from the previous album then something that would fit well on this EP. At least the Dream Theater-sound alike is understandable, seeing as Mike Portnoy plays the drums on this track. The song is okay until about halfway through when the Gentle Giant-copying comes back. So I find the second half of this song boring and having the same problems as 'The Mountain'.

Overall, if you're like me and was annoyed by Haken's copying of bands you should certainly check this EP out. I'm glad I gave it a try, and I hope they take the styles of the first two tracks and continue with that for whenever they release a new album. I'll be curious to see what a new album by them will bring.

Hope you found this review helpful.

(Originally Written for www.MetalMusicArchives.com)

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.17 | 830 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Fearabsentia

1 stars Haken-The Mountain

'The Mountain' is Haken's third studio album, and it was released to raving reviews. Haken has basically been one of the most critically acclaimed progressive rock/metal bands in the past few years. Their debut 'Aquarius' was already hailed as a masterpiece soon after it's release. Their next album 'Visions' was also well-received. Now on 'The Mountain' I think this may very well be the most overrated progressive metal album of all time.

I'll start by saying when I first heard Haken when it was suggested to me ,because of my love of Porcupine Tree, I wasn't impressed. I could see why they were suggested, they sounded exactly like Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater combined. Overall, they were okay. This album sees Haken reach their most pitiful state of copying yet, the old 'Sound like a classic prog band an get an instant prog classic' route. I'll just say, I hate it when bands do this. It's one thing if you are influenced by a band and show your influences, it's a whole other thing to just blatantly copy classic bands. The thing that peeves me the most is the fact that if a prog band does this, they get hailed as masters. If people who heard this album never heard Dream Theater, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, or Porcupine Tree, I would completely understand if they thought this was a great album. They are talented musicians, no doubt about that.

Now that I'm finished explaining my dislike for this album, lets move onto the most important part of any review, the music and content.

I'll begin by talking about the song that instantly made me know that this wasn't any unique album. 'Cockroach King' is a blatant Gentle Giant rip-off, not copying a song but completely mimicking their music and even lyrics. The vocals sound exactly like the unique vocal work and a Capella of Gentle Giant, and the lyrics share that same kind of fantasy subject-matter that Gentle Giant covered. Near the end, there is also some King Crimson- sounding music. The music fluctuates between some heavy riffing and Gentle Giant-copying, musically I enjoy this song but unfortunately that is stained by the blatant copying. Another copy-cat song is 'Pareidolia', which sounds strangely similar to Dream Theater's masterpiece 'Home'. By strangely, I mean the solo sounds almost exactly the same as the solo in 'Home'. It even copies the middle-eastern styles of 'Home'. I will admit I do enjoy the song 'In Memorian', it's the most unique song on the album, and even then you can here a Anathema or Porcupine Tree influence.

Overall, I find this album to be just another typical 'copy a classic prog band, and get famous quick' album. It's barely unique, and shows too much influence even going to ripping off. I would only recommend this album for those who already enjoyed Haken's music. Thankfully, their recent EP shows them developing their own sound and not just copying other bands.

Hope you found this review helpful.

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 Restoration by HAKEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.93 | 102 ratings

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Restoration
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by escruting

3 stars They've taken the bad things from the last 3-4 Dream Theater albums and they've incorporated them into the Haken formula. Hoping this is just for the EP and they come back to creativity for the new album in 2015.

I havent listened to the 2008 demo too much, so it hasnt affected my vision of this EP. Its just uninspired and bland. I actually like Darkest Light, but Earthlings seems shallow and Crystallised just has a good moment here and there, too much wankery and meaningless "musical masturbation", not a very epic ending, maybe because the whole song lacks epicness and cohesiveness.

I also miss the riffs a lot on this EP, after listening to it i feel like there isnt a lot of "headbanging" segments like on Cockroach king, Falling Back to earth, pareidolia, portals, visions, etc. I just need heavy riffs and this EP lacks in that regard IMHO.

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