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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
$8.68 (used)
The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$11.39
$8.23 (used)
Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$5.84
$7.79 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$9.99
$11.06 (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 | 891 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.09 | 897 ratings
Visions
2011
4.16 | 905 ratings
The Mountain
2013
3.96 | 277 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
3.96 | 277 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 | 897 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
3.96 | 277 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
3.96 | 277 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
3.96 | 277 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
3.96 | 277 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
3.96 | 277 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.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 277 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by SbMSU

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 4 star album because it's not your favorite or because it does not have a song like "Celestial Elixer" on it is silly. Affinity really showcases the band building on their own unique sound. I'm not sure they really fit in the "progressive metal" genre any longer, and that fine with me! This music is so melodic, emotional, complex, and coherent that it really defies categorization. While I'm not as blown away by an epic like "The Architect" as some have been, I find that I wish songs like "Earthrise" or "The Endless Knot" could go on forever. I literally say to myself each time after "Earthrise" ends, "man, I wish that was about 5 minutes longer". While I agree with some that this may not be the best overall Haken album, in the vast world of "prog", this is a clear 5-star effort for me.
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 277 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by TheWall7

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 live up... but not completely. Don't get me wrong, Affinity proves to be an excellent album, no doubt about it. It's just that there are some parts that are a little forgettable at times. The album starts with "Initiate", which I initially didn't like but grew to love. One of the main treats of the album is "1985", a track that is elegant in its absolute cheesiness. It sounds exactly like the type of 80's prog song you hear from bands like "Rush" or "Yes", but it still has the Haken-ness that makes it one of the highlights of the album. The next highlight of the album is their juggernaut of a track, titled "The Architect". Now, as much as I liked this track, the growling was so very unnecessary and out of place. I've never been a fan of Haken growls. I didn't like them in "Aquarius", I definitely did not like them here. Otherwise, this song has an amazing bass solo, an excellent chorus, and is overall one of Haken's strongest tracks yet. Just... the growls. Anyway, one of the problems in this album is that some tracks are less memorable than others. That's the one issue that prevented me from giving this a solid five. Tracks like "Lapse" and "Red Giant" were pretty good tracks, they just don't hold up when compared to the amazing amount of experimentation and musical genius found on the rest of the album. I might be nitpicking a little, but I'm merely giving my full thoughts. Overall, this is an extremely strong outing that displays amazing musicianship, and if it weren't for a few setbacks, I would definitely call it an absolute masterpiece. Seriously though, no growls.
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 277 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by jazz2896

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 in hand, I can't help but feel this concept could have been more fleshed out, and used to greater effect. Part of the reason The Mountain was such a good album was that the band managed to create some great tension/release moments with their juxtaposition of quiet/loud moments, and while there were plenty of flashy instrumental sections (not my cup of tea), they still managed to mix it in with a sense of humor. This made The Mountain a fun album, it knew when to be serious, it knew when to be fun, and the compositions flowed quite well. Unfortunately, with this release, most of the fun and self awareness appears to be gone, and with it, any emotional depth. Don't get me wrong, there are still some excellent parts on this album, in fact there are excellent parts on all songs on this album, but as a whole, the compositions leave me cold, and don't tend to have any natural flow to them. A lot of these songs seem to follow a technical verse/big chorus/overly complex instrumental/big chorus pattern, and it seems the depth of the compositions have been sacrificed for flashy crazy time signatures. Some of these melodies (especially in the choruses) could be quite memorable, but they've been chopped up and put on top of needlessly changing time signatures, and because of this, I can't recall a single melody of any song on here. This isn't to say I hate the album, I do love the track 1985 for it's incredibly cheesy synths (the only hint of the Haken I know and love on this album), Lapse for it's Allan Holdsworth-ian sound, and Earthrise is a wonderful progged up pop song. Overall though, I'm going to have to give this 3 stars (minus half a star for the screamo section on the Architect).
Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates

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