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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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The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$14.97
$9.95 (used)
Aquarius (Re-issue 2017)Aquarius (Re-issue 2017)
Inside Out Music 2017
Audio CD$8.34
$13.01 (used)
Visions (Re-issue 2017)Visions (Re-issue 2017)
Inside Out Music 2017
Audio CD$8.37
$13.01 (used)
Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Imports 2015
Audio CD$5.64
$8.99 (used)
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$16.98
Audio CD$518.29
$25.00 (used)
Audio CD$92.49
$56.68 (used)
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HAKEN discography

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

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

4.08 | 938 ratings
4.09 | 942 ratings
4.16 | 974 ratings
The Mountain
3.92 | 424 ratings

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 | 86 ratings
Enter The 5th Dimension
4.04 | 176 ratings

HAKEN Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.92 | 424 ratings

Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars Electronic gadgets, the 80s, modern metal, prog, HAKEN: 8/10

HAKEN is one of the most prominent progressive rock bands of modernity, especially after the media attention they received following the release of THE MOUNTAIN (2013). It was through that album I was introduced to them, and while I could definitively see potential and musicianship, they weren't interesting to me. I felt like they sounded just like every other modern prog metal band. They had particular characteristics on their own, but generally speaking, they still sounded bland. It's similar to NWOBHM and how most bands of that particular style are all absurdly similar in their core, with little uniqueness among them. The thing is: I like NWOBHM's core, but not modern prog's. So HAKEN was not for me.

While I thought fondly of them and on several occasions tried to dig their stuff, I just couldn't. I still can't, honestly. Although I admit THE MOUNTAIN is sorta more interesting than AQUARIUM and VISIONS, it still wasn't enough for me. They still retained a visible amount of said plague of genre homogeneity.

Not on AFFINITY, though. They merged electronic and the 80's in their well-sculpted style (please note that when I say 'sculpted' it does not necessarily mean it's unique, all it means is that it has been matured and became characteristic of them). I think the album has two highlights: it is fresh, featuring a blend of antique methodology on new influences and it is antithetically technical AND simple. I'll develop those ideas right ahead.

You see, in the early days of the progressive genre, you had two (actually three, but I'm going to conveniently discard the importance of classical music for the sake of simplifying my argument) mainstream influences: jazz and rock. Rock was based on blues and folk and had divergent origins from jazz (sort of...). The grand idea of prog was to create music based on the fusion on the couple, that is, to get those two contemporaneous musical directions and merge them. Nowadays, we have, mostly, rock and electronic, on mainstream terms. What HAKEN did is comparable to what was done back in the day, to this antique technique: to get those two musical directions and merge them, along with some technical virtuosity and straying away from radio-friendliness for the sake of quality, and to blend the "electronic" part on characteristically eighties' electronic. This is taking the concept of progressive rock literally; which, as Robert Fripp states, is to break boundaries (don't confuse it with Avant-garde: music that is already beyond the borders). Well, there's no paradigmatic shift or breakthrough with AFFINITY, but it does sound fresh. Honestly, for as much as there are many great new prog metal bands, it's nigh impossible to refute the claim they sound way too much similar. This, in my opinion, is the case for HAKEN as well, excluding on AFFINITY.

In conclusion, if you're a prog puritan ('Symphonic Prog is the only true prog!'), this isn't for you. Electronics are omnipresent and relatively meaningful in virtually all moments and this might be enough to make any purist shiver in anger... spoiler: dubstep.

Now, talking about technicality, HAKEN nails it. They have an enviable ease to mess around with odd time signatures which I find appalling. Particularly on their ability to maintain a fluid song even with alternating signatures, a feature easily observed on 1985's intro and verse parts (6/4 and 7/4 played as naturally as 4/4). You might argue that this characteristic isn't really noteworthy, especially on the technical scene that is prog - and that might even be a prerequisite instead of a "quality" - but hear me out, the thing I'm praising is not how they are able to play it, but how they're able to make it sound natural. So much so, that their music sound rather simple. On a rushed, superficial listen, you might feel prone to contest my affirmation, but upon closer inspection, you'll realize the intricacy I'm talking about. And well... there's The Architect to prove my point. Also, kudos for Charlie Griffiths. All of the musicians are skilled, but he deserves particular acclamation for his masterful lead playing, especially on the solos. HAKEN's solos are pretty dope.

Highlight, undoubtfully, is 1985. That solo, man. Nothing beats it. Cheerfulness and images of palm trees and dudes in white suits motorboating through Biscayne Bay on the sunset will flow in your mind as Raymond's rhythm makes you swing and Griffiths' melodic riffs make you go wow, but if you think it's over, well, don't kid yourself, because Diego Tejeida's heavy keyboards preludes the second piece of the solo, which, much darker than the first, is even more climaxing, as Tejeida and Griffiths play along until its ending. Miami Vice. Vaporwave. ELECTRONIC DRUMS!

In the end, I consider this Haken's best release and, by far, one of my favorite releases from 2016 (although being honestly I listened to what, three or four albums from that year?). Definitely worth checking out. They're still not ultra famous, so if you check them out before they attain that level (and trust me - they will), you'll be the hip and cool guy who'll say "yeah, I knew them since the beginning". It'll be worth it.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.92 | 424 ratings

Haken Heavy Prog

Review by dmwilkie

4 stars I was impressed by 'The Mountain', having discovered it long after it was released, so I had high expectations for 'Affinity'. These have largely been met. I agree with others who regard 'The Architect' as the best track. It is my favourite track of 2016 - I love its adventure, its range of mood and tempo, and I thought the importation of growly vocals was a masterstroke. '1985' and 'Lapse' are also outstandingly good, in my view. The other tracks range from good to rather ordinary, making it a bit of a mixed bag. But, given that Haken have an adventurous approach, this is hardly surprising. One of the best of 2016.
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.92 | 424 ratings

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
3.92 | 424 ratings

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
3.92 | 424 ratings

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: Einwahn's #1 album of 2016.

 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.92 | 424 ratings

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
3.92 | 424 ratings

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
3.92 | 424 ratings

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 | 942 ratings

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
3.92 | 424 ratings

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

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

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