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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$13.99
Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$4.97
$4.96 (used)
The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$9.00
$8.95 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$9.70
$11.43 (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 | 871 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.08 | 872 ratings
Visions
2011
4.16 | 874 ratings
The Mountain
2013
3.91 | 90 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)

4.01 | 81 ratings
Enter The 5th Dimension
2008
3.99 | 131 ratings
Restoration
2014

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 90 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by rdtprog
Forum & Site Admin Group Heavy Prog Team / Site Admin

4 stars Haken is a band that take the best of the Progressive Metal music and add their own special twist to it. There is a infectious groove to the complex musical structures of their music. In this new cd, the band decided to let every musicians take part to the writing process, which gives the album more variety. The band has been inspired by 80's music, especially obvious in the song "1985" where you'll recognize the 80's keyboards sound, some electronic drums, but also some djent metal. But the highlight of this cd is the epic "The Architect" that display many atmospheres from quiet keyboards lines to heavy guitar riffs. The band goes from a symphonic Dream Theater style to a King Crimson guitar sound where every instruments has the space to shine including some tasty bass lines. The second part of the album contains more atmospheric songs with post-rock/metal ambiance where you see the band incorporated the new technology tools to make the music sound modern. Sometimes the heavy parts don't flow naturally with the quieter parts, left you wonder where the melody is heading, but overall there is a lot of cohesion in this work. I am not sure that this one is better from previous albums, maybe lacking a bit of consistency from one song to the other, but that what's can happen when you let everyone taking part of the writing. Still a four stars, because it's still Haken!

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 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 90 ratings

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Affinity
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Blackwater Floyd

5 stars Still at the top of prog!

I was blown away by the Mountain, and, to be honest, I couldn't imagine anything coming close to it's greatness. Boy was I wrong. Haken were able to give yet another new cool spin to their already awesome music. 80's influence was there, especially in "1985", heaviness was there, as noted in "The Architect", calmer tunes, like "Red Giant"...This record has almost everything. It's not all good, though. My only criticism of this album, is that the second half seems to be less memorable than the first. It's as if they crammed their excellent tunes all together. Nevertheless the album is not short of excitement, intrigue and beautiful melodies. Some people claim this album sounds mechanic and robotic and is, thus, soulless. On the contrary, it is my belief that the "robotic" sound, as intended, means to emphasize the vibe proposed by the band.

High points: The Architect, 1985, Initiate, Bound by gravity (though not as great a closer as Somebody), Red Giant "Less high" points ;) : Earthrise (great chorus, and such a lovely tune to ease the ears after the monstrous 15 minute epic ), Lapse, the Endless knot (kind of like Never Enough in Octavarium by DT. Nice tune, but maybe the weakest on the record).

Overall, Haken do it yet again, staying true to their style while adding new twists and turns. This is in my opinion another creative masterpiece. As the mountain was a solid 5 out of 5, I'll give this one a 4.5 out of 5 (rounding up to a 5 star rating).

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 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 90 ratings

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Haken Heavy Prog

Review by marcobrusa

2 stars I am sorry but with all due respect this album is cold. I cannot remember one single moment. I applaude the production effort and musicmanship but (i am sorry) the music seems completely uninspired. Maybe i am a grumpy cynical person but honestly the mix makes everything sound robotic as if it was made by a computer. Is it the excessive use of dynamic processors and effects the cause maybe? What's wrong people? Will i be the only one that notices this? First two albums at least were a treat for DT-like prog metal enthusiasts. This is boring. 2- stars. Level up your emotions.

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 Affinity by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 90 ratings

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Haken Heavy Prog

Review by arschiparschi

4 stars I was already very curious to hear what Haken would have come up with for their fourth full length. After reading in Prog that they were going for 80s influences I was - as they anticipated most people to be - quite sceptical. The two singles already released beforehand - Initiate and The Endless Knot - did not impress me as much as their previous efforts had, Initiate being a very nice listen but somehow very poppy and The Endless Knot just didn't quite grab my attention despite its interesting complexity. The Endless Knot also had a slight autotune sound, which they luckily didn't use throughout the album.

But listening to this album in its intended song order now I must say that they've delivered some quality material that does not necessarily disappoint me (after all, it's difficult to follow up the great 'The Mountain'). They've managed to garner new influences - less Gentle Giant, more 80s Yes etc. - but still remain true to their own sound. The guitar sound is just like in their previous albums, lovely and smooth bass lines (as in The Architect), a distinct modern metal sound in parts (heavy, 7-string riffing in 1985 and even a blast beat as well as growling vocals in The Architect), thankfully a real drum sound and not the artificial sound so popular in the 80s and the vocals are always very recognisable (in a positive way).

As the desired sound shifted, so did especially the keyboards. I must say that I personally enjoy the warmer 70s sound more than the synthesizer-drenched sounds of the 80s but it doesn't destroy it. One criticism, however, would be that many songs have lots of underlying sound beds, which gives it a slightly overproduced, artificial sound and takes away the band-sound a bit. But the musicianship is nevertheless great as usual with plenty of odd time signatures, impressive soli and great melodies.

I will listen to it a couple more times but my first impression is positive. There is great variety in the music (some more serious as The Architect, some very poppy and cheerful as Earthrise) but I find the mix quite enjoyable. The band wanted something different than before, which is why I would not directly measure it against their previous releases. It's a good thing that they want to keep innovating their own sound and on this record they have succeeded in doing so while still retaining a high quality as well as their own identity in the music. 4 stars +. :)

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 Visions by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.08 | 872 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
4.16 | 874 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
4.16 | 874 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
4.16 | 874 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
3.99 | 131 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
3.99 | 131 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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Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates

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