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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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VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$9.58
$8.00 (used)
MountainMountain
Inside Out U.S. 2013
Audio CD$9.93
$9.28 (used)
AquariusAquarius
Sensory Records 2010
Audio CD$17.13
$131.99 (used)
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HAKEN discography


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

4.06 | 811 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.10 | 800 ratings
Visions
2011
4.17 | 788 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)

4.02 | 69 ratings
Demo 2007-2008
2008
3.89 | 88 ratings
Restoration
2014

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.17 | 788 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 | 788 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
3.89 | 88 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
3.89 | 88 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 | 788 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
3.89 | 88 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 | 788 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
3.89 | 88 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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 Restoration by HAKEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.89 | 88 ratings

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Restoration
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I've been accused of being a Haken fanboy. In fact, I have to admit that I have been at times. For a band this young, they have remarkably little in the way of missteps or duds, and I'm proud to be a fan of their quirky, groovy heavy prog that will be remembered for decades. However (and this is a big however), I feel nothing but disappointment over their new EP called "Restoration". You see, back in 2008 or so, Haken was shopping their original demo around, and it was really amazing stuff. The production values, however, were pretty bad. For years, then, fans have been clamoring for a remaster of this original demo. Problem: the masters for this demo no longer exist. So, instead of rerecording the tracks, Haken decided to take three of them to modify significantly. These three tracks---"Darkest Light" (originally "Blind"), "Earthling" ("Black Seed"), and "Crystallised" ("Snow")---make up this new EP.

I feel very strongly, though, that Haken has made their first misstep. This EP will sell very well and many fans that never heard the originals will love it, but I find all three of these remakes to be far inferior to the original recordings, even with the production problems in the old demo. There are two main reasons for this opinion. First, I feel that Haken added a ton of "wankery" for no purpose. Their original demo had none of this technical poppycock, and so it feels forced, out of place, and almost lazy, as funny as that sounds. Second, the personality has been sucked out of these songs. While they are still recognizable, many of the melodies have been altered, structures changed, and the highs and lows have been nerfed, so to speak. This is a very sleek EP, but it has lost the character that made me fall in love with the band.

Since this is such a short EP, I will simply go over the three tracks in order to explain. First, "Darkest Light" is relatively similar to the original. Though this is true, I feel that some additions are simply not composed well, and I dislike the changes to the stuttering riffs, especially the omission of layers. As with all these tracks, too, I feel that new bassist Conner Green has either been silenced in the mix or simply isn't that interesting when compared to former bassist Thomas MacLean. It's very guitar-heavy and has little in the way of groove.

Next, we have "Earthlings". This is my favorite of the three because I do feel that the new structure of the song is rather nice. The last few minutes are pretty close to the original, and so I liked that. The first half, however, just feels weak and like it's missing something, especially in the vocal portions.

Finally, we have the abomination: "Crystallised". Yes, you read that word correctly. "Snow" is one of my top three favorites from Haken, but they have taken it, elongated it to pretentiousness, added meaningless wankery, and composed new parts that seem totally out of place. "Snow" was a masterpiece of stark, black and white folk music, full of Gentle Giant influence and organic emotion and melody. All this has been sapped out, and a nominal orchestration has been added that destroys everything the original was. In addition, the technicality takes away from the masterful lyrics, and my very favorite parts have all been either erased or neutralized. Even the vocal rounds in the middle are incredibly dull, as they completely miss both the high and low notes of the original. Haken has destroyed one of their best compositions. With Mike "Bluebeard" Portnoy's involvement on this track, I guess I should have expected this.

"Restoration", then, is nothing of the sort. It comes across as being created under compulsion by InsideOut, and the performances are by the book, emotionless, and simply "blah". I'm not sure if I can bring myself to hear this EP anymore, as I cringe every time I hear the mediocrity. Haken, I beg you, please do not let this be representative of your next album. For the love of all that is holy, don't lose yourselves in your success.

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 Visions by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.10 | 800 ratings

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Visions
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars After becoming completely enthralled with Haken's 2013 release, "The Mountain", I kept my eye out for copies of their earlier albums. Recently, I found "Visions" available locally, so it looks like I'll be working backwards through this band.

Apparently. "The Mountain" is no fluke. While I personally like it better, especially for the jazzy influences and Gentle Giant-like vocals they added. But this album is no lightweight either. Working on a base of Dream Theater influenced prog metal, these guys have come up with a unique blend of prog of all sorts.

While the most prevalent sound may be metal, it is not so overbearing as to make this a thrashing headbanger album. The elegant vocals and swirling complexity raise this far above most prog metal, and most modern bands in general.

This, like "The Mountain", is a joy to listen to from start to finish.

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

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