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HAKEN

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Haken picture
Haken biography
Founded in 2007 in London, England

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

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HAKEN discography


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

4.05 | 1141 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.11 | 1177 ratings
Visions
2011
4.20 | 1279 ratings
The Mountain
2013
3.95 | 665 ratings
Affinity
2016
3.67 | 306 ratings
Vector
2018
3.61 | 278 ratings
Virus
2020
3.61 | 136 ratings
Fauna
2023

HAKEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.45 | 85 ratings
L-1VE
2018
4.43 | 23 ratings
L+1VE
2018

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)

3.94 | 115 ratings
Enter The 5th Dimension
2008
4.04 | 275 ratings
Restoration
2014
3.91 | 22 ratings
The Endless Knot
2016
3.80 | 20 ratings
Initiate
2016
4.00 | 21 ratings
Nightingale
2022
4.07 | 15 ratings
The Alphabet of Me
2022
3.22 | 18 ratings
Taurus
2023
3.70 | 10 ratings
Lovebite
2023

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Virus by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.61 | 278 ratings

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Virus
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Haken have proven themselves to be one of the most consistent acts in all of progressive metal. Even their worst album is only spotty. Virus shares a lot in common with its predecessor, Vector, with the two having been recorded in quick succession. Everything here is meticulously crafted, highly dynamic, intelligently structured, and skillfully played. However, much like Vector, once the record is over, almost none of it has stuck with me. I'm not the biggest fan of Affinity, their 2016 release, but that album (and the three which preceded it) stuck out in my mind when I heard them. I'm not sure what it is about Virus (and Vector), but it feels ephemeral. Like, if you're not actively listening to it, it doesn't really exist.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/09/14/odds-ends-september-14-2020/

 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by BBKron

2 stars Haken is considered one of the premier Progressive Metal bands of the day. So, first off, I need to state that I really do not care much for Prog Metal, thus, I have not checked out most of Haken's previous albums (but I think The Mountain is wonderful). However, with this new album several reviewers have commented that this album is not as heavy and contains more 'proggy' elements than their other recent albums, and should appeal to those that are not as into prog metal. So, I decided to check this out. But, alas, I did not enjoy it at all. But before I dump on it, let me say what I did like about it. I love Ross Jennings vocals, great voice and style, very versatile (but almost too sweet for some of these songs), strong throughout the album. I also liked the drumming from Ray Hearne, and I also appreciated that they did incorporate various rock and pop styles into their songs. However, even when employing more melodic and rock influences, there was still an overbearing metal presence that permeated every song. Essentially, the poppier elements just seemed like window dressing as the tracks eventually reverted to a mostly metal onslaught. Best tracks for me were those with less metal content, such as 'The Alphabet of Me', but which was still just an OK pop-rock song, and 'Elephants Never Forget' (the longest track at 11+ min), which started out great, with an opening Queen-like section leading into a great Gentle Giant imitation section. However, after that, (about the 4 min. mark), the song gets heavy again and those overbearing power metal guitar and bass lines take over again and the song never recovers. I just find nothing appealing about the ever-present all-consuming heavy guitar onslaught typical of metal. There are some moments on this album that are nice and refreshing, but no full songs that I enjoyed all the way through, as the songs were just not good (and the melodies throughout unmemorable), and at some point they all became relentless bores. This is not an album I will ever listen to again. So, why did I bother to review it if I don't like prog metal? Well, just to indicate that, no, it does not really appeal to those that are not already prog metal fans, as others have indicated. Rating: 2.5 stars (and its only that high due to the fine musicianship throughout and Jennings great vocals).
 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by alvanx

5 stars Haken is exploring fresh sounds here, and it's their proggiest album in a while. It's intricate, thoughtful and surprisingly soft, considering Haken's typical sound, which develops but remains the same on this record. Henshall and Griffiths do their wonderful guitar interplay, weaving riffs into the melodies and rhythms contributed by the other members. The influence of the new keyboarder is noticeable in many small ways. The quality of the music is outstanding: Very few bands manage to to take rhythm and melody to the places Haken does and actually still get it to sound pleasant and catchy.

My favorite Haken album since The Mountain. Reviewers generally seem to agree it's a strong showing. Early contender for album of the year.

 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by lukretio

3 stars Haken's seventh full-length album, Fauna, is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year in the progressive rock/metal genre. The British band have been playing together for nearly two decades, and with each album, their popularity has steadily grown. Their most recent LP, Virus, topped our very own Top 30 Albums of 2020 chart, a testament to Haken's impressive rise within and beyond the prog metal community. With Fauna, there are understandably high expectations, as fans are eager to see how far Haken can push the boundaries this time around. Will Fauna live up to the hype? Will it exceed expectations?

To get straight to the point, Fauna is Haken's bold attempt to secure a spot at the top of the food chain by blending classic progressive rock, (djenty) prog metal, and 80s pop to create new sonic hybrids that are both accessible and rich in depth and complexity. This places Haken right at the forefront of what defines progressive music today, competing head-to-head with other progressive rock/metal giants such as Steven Wilson and Leprous. While this is a blessing, it's also a curse for the album, as I will try and argue next.

On the one hand, Fauna is perhaps the most accessible and accomplished collection of songs by the Brits. Tracks like "Taurus", "The Alphabet of Me", "Sempiternal Beings", "Lovebites", "Elephants Never Forget", and "Eyes of Ebony" will linger in your mind long after the LP has ended, with their skillful fusion of grand arrangements, soaring melodies, and exceptional musicianship. The songwriting is remarkable, gracefully treading the fine line between simplified pop music and complex progressive works. Verses and choruses are repeated, yet never in the same manner, retaining a freshness and vibrancy that most contemporary metal releases lack. There are plenty of quirky guitar riffs, extravagant keyboard sounds, and clever rhythmic tricks, but they are all used with moderation and in service to the songs ? something that Haken have not always accomplished in the past, but have fully mastered this time. The melodic hooks are massive, yet never mundane. Ross Jennings' performance is his most convincing with Haken yet, as he uses his lower register more, creating a striking contrast with the high-pitched vocals he is known for. The performances of the rest of the band are also top-notch, as one would expect from a band of such caliber.

Despite all the positives, there is an obvious elephant in the room that demands attention and is closely tied to Haken's ambition to be at the forefront of contemporary prog rock/metal. The album's blend of prog, metal, and pop takes Haken into similar territory as artists like Steven Wilson or Leprous, to the point where the similarities between Fauna and albums like Leprous' Pitfalls and Aphelion or Wilson's Hand.Cannot.Erase or To the Bone can be hard to ignore. This is particularly evident on "Taurus", where the contrast between sparse, dark textures and elegiac vocals reminds one of Wilson's fondness for chiaroscuro compositions. Later, in the same song's bridge, Haken veer towards the kind of ominous, epic sound that Soen has been perfecting on their latest releases. On "The Alphabet of Me", Jennings seems instead to channel his inner Einar Solberg (Leprous), complete with trademark "ooohs" and "aaahs", while the song's overall jittery unfolding brings to mind the English art rock band Everything Everything. Similarly, echoes of Leprous can also be heard on "Beneath the White Rainbow" and "Sempiternal Beings," while Wilsonesque melodies and harmonies surface among the notes of "Island in the Clouds" and "Elephants Never Forget".

As a fan of all the bands mentioned above, I find it incredibly difficult not to fall in love with Fauna. In fact, since receiving the promo, I've been playing the LP on repeat more than any of Haken's previous albums. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's hard not to see Fauna as a transitional record, much like their 2016 album Affinity, in which the band incorporated 80s prog rock influences into their sound. With Fauna, Haken is experimenting with much more contemporary prog rock/metal influences, which is considerably more challenging. The album is at its best when the band seamlessly incorporate these influences into their own unique sound, as they do on tracks like "Sempiternal Beings" and "Elephants Never Forget". In other places, however, the new influences are a bit too prominent, which detracts somewhat from the band's essence. It's a delicate balance, and although Fauna only gets it right half the time, it sets an exciting course for the future of one of the most talented and promising bands in the prog metal scene today.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Prototypical 2020's Prog Metal Trying to do Too Much

Haken's FAUNA typifies all the sounds of modern prog metal - complex rhythms, computer perfect precision, and rapid changes in directions multiple times within the same song. Thankfully it breaks from the main by having all clean vocals. Djent-y guitars are the primary sonic element underlying Russ Jennings' emotive voice. The production is thick and compressed but the individual instrument sounds are pristine. Keys and intermittent harmony vocals add flavor along with technical guitar solos and occasional squeals and noises. There is nothing sonically surprising to any regular prog metal listener.

I saw Haken open for Symphony X last year and was probably as excited to see them as the headliner. However, I was somewhat disappointed in spite of spending a lot of time listening to the setlist ahead of time. All the usual prog metal elements were there and well executed, but everything seemed to blend together as many of the songs didn't have enough of their own identity. The band had a stock repertoire of sections - riffy opener, big drop to an intimate verse, high energy chorus, trippy bridge, breakdowns, all in very odd time. The cut and paste feel included "Nightingale" from this album which was already on the setlist by that time. The exception was long time favorite "Cockroach King" from what I consider the band's high water mark, THE MOUNTAIN. My initial listen to FAUNA was similar disappointment. Too much kitchen sink on every song, not enough melodic hooks or themes that anchored an individual track.

The good news is that on multiple listens, FAUNA has gotten much better for me. Some of the songs definitely have their own identities ? the poppy synths of "Alphabet of Me" ? the heavy pop prog of "Lovebite," being times where I thought the band was trying to forge their own identity. But we have to talk about "Elephants Never Forget." This song typifies where Haken tries too hard, does too much in one song, gets lost in their own attempt to outprog them all. The band clearly has an affinity for Gentle Giant, but during "Elephants" the first verse is almost a direct quote. It is almost exactly like "Cogs in Cogs" or "Knots." I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it is an homage. Fine. But in the same song Russ Jennings seem to impersonate Korn's Johnathan Davis, and there are instrumental sections where my ear immediately said "There's Devin Townsend, there's Dream Theater." I went back to the lyrics to see if perhaps the theme of the song was remembering the ones that led you to where you are now, which would be an interesting musical idea. Perhaps that was part of their intent but apparently it's about "Leviathan of Doggerland." To their credit, the "I Remember" refrain is the most memorable melodic element in the whole album, and it does bind the piece together.

Now, after quite a few spins, I actually like FAUNA quite a bit. There are some really great parts and some great ideas. The performances are at a very high level. But it also seems quite flawed, not knowing exactly what it wants to be. I actually went back to THE MOUNTAIN and listened again to make sure I wasn't misremembering. Indeed, the songwriting was better, the album more coherent, I didn't forget. They have it in them. So how to rate? Trying to bind all that together, I'm landing on 3/5.

 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Soul2Create

4 stars Another fantastic album by Haken. Very varied, covering nearly all styles they have developed throughout all these years. You can find melodic breaks and cinematic moments like on Aquarium or the more recent djent sound from their later albums. As always happens with these guys, there is a good dose of experimentation and innovation, which adds an extra layer of fun to their album.

1. Taurus - little smart rocker to start the album in the most effective way 8.5/10

2. Nightingale - the chorus is a wormhole, and the whole song is great, a highlight on the album that reminds me of the best traks on Vector. 9/10

3. The Alphabet of Me - A very accesible song for the band, and very cool too. Love the vocals and the rhythm section accross the full track. The chorus is amazing. 8.5/10

4. Sempiternal Beings - reminds me of the style of The mountain with some hints of opera rock a la Muse. Abslutely epic track and my favourite from the album. 9.5/10

5. Beneath the White Rainbow - Good song, but very expermental. I will need some more listens to appreciate all the details, changes and tricks going on here 7.5/10

6. Island in the Clouds - a more typical Haken song combining melodic vocals and heavy breaks. Cannot go wrong. That crescendo at the end is simply gorgeous. 8.5/10

7. Lovebite (3:49) - again an accesible song, kind of indie rock mixed with djent and some 80s flavours. Maybe the track I like the less, but by no means a bad one - 7/10

8. Elephants Never Forget - Back to the style of the first albums of the band. Very playful with a Gentle giant twist and a display of all the new things that the band brings. 8.75/10

9. Eyes of Ebony - gentle and evocative. A great way of ending the album. 8.25/10

Four solid stars, and a strong contender for the best albums of the year. Highly recommended.

 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by proghaven

1 stars The most untalented album I listened to during last 10-12 years. Noisy and empty. Virtuoso musicianship plus interesting lyrics vs complete absence of musical content. All the band members play their instruments fine, but what they play is hooey, not music. Awful. A saturnalia of dullness. Impossible to believe that it's the same band who started with amazing Aquarius 13 years ago. Looks (i.e. sounds) like they have completely written themselves out. They've come to the point that they literally squeeze out their musical themes from nothing. I was sure that Vector was a bad album. I was wrong. In comparison to Fauna, Vector is a piece of perfection.
 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Deadwing

5 stars Very fun album to listen. For me it's a big step foward compared with Virus (which I didn't enjoy at all) and Vector (good short album, but weaker than my favorite Haken album Affinity).

Fauna brings a wide range of different songs to the Haken pallete, some pieces have a heavy jazzier approach ("Nightingale", "Beneath the White Rainbow"), others are more accessible ("Lovebite" and "The Alphabet of Me") and others are more progressive and even have some Gentle Giant-esque moments maybe? ("Elephants Ever Forget" and "Eyes of Ebony").

For a 60 minutes album and considering how distinct each song is, it's a really surprising consistent album with solid compositions. It didn't feel very virtuous to me, especially when compared with Virus, for example, the melodies do work well here and the album grows after a few listen.

 Fauna by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.61 | 136 ratings

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Fauna
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars Haken is the mega-group of young pals Richard, Ross and Matt initially, Charlie joins them and they tour for Riverside, which makes me follow them; having released 'Aquarius' cult album their sound is between heavy, avant garde and prog; between Rush, Kansas, The Tangent, Gentle Giant and many convoluted djent groups for a modern rock with intrepid writing and a striking voice. This is their 7th album on a central theme of the animal kingdom, hence the cover, to note Peter's return to keyboards.

'Taurus' shredded djent riff, heavy polyrhythmic sound, drawn vocals, languorous, the Haken signature. 'Nightingale' airy intro then jazzy air on a melody, conglomerate between Leprous and rushian-sounding rock; electro-funky-jazzy-djent break, heavy opening with piling up riffs, voice and percussion rise, singular fusion not to be snubbed. 'The Alphabet Of Me' as a single that hit the headlines because it was removed from their original sound; melodic, pop, new-wave, bluesy, a melting pot with a central riff to stay in the metal spirit; strange, disconcerting like the backing vocals in 'oh-oh' and the final trumpet worthy of an Xtc; expect freshness. 'Sempiternal Beings' centerpiece with uphill, superb guitar solo; half-soft, half-violent oxymoron tune or both at the same time, to see live to test the power; progressive metal djent. 'Beneath The White Rainbow' continues with a strangely melodic title between typical Ross voice and chiseled breaks; the 2nd third on Alice in Chains, rap-zappaesque improvisation then the djent spirit returns with riff and soft voice counteracting, disconcerting.

'Island In The Clouds' voice la Einar des leprous, soft sound for a bucolic wandering and crimsonian break of a 'Thrak'; the second part with synthetic sound, post-djent riff showing an avant-garde taste that will have to be remembered for the next few years. 'Lovebite' short, chiseled, strafing bringing a pop-rock air to the well-oiled chorus; sound that progs will hate because too simple with this 'oh-eh-oh' reminding me of Police; the pleasurable solo that squirts. 'Elephants Never Forget' bombastic from the introduction with Queen just lurking behind the tree; Xtc for the rhythm of a blow and the frenzied voice of Ross which goes so far as to graze the verses of Yes; a musical demonstration of high art; the break sets off on a progressive wandering high-pitched voice and heavy riff that drives home the point of what the prog of tomorrow will be like, another break of gentle madness with the Anglican Charisma spirit. 'Eyes Of Ebony' for the summary of their album, melodic, bushy break with Crimsonian experimentation; controlled explosion on pure math rock. I had a hard time but the listenings confirmed to me that it is good.

Haken releases a bomb that will take time to digest, too far ahead and too different from their original sound; an avant-garde musical softness with nourished riffs and divine voice; unique group, fascinating album with an anachronistic sound that will disappoint first-time fans who do not want to progress, just that.

 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.20 | 1279 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Semibreve

4 stars (NOTE: Excluding the two bonus tracks of the reissue for this review.)

Few albums start in a way that suspends you, readying you for a compositional left-turn into heavy territory that juxtaposes a soft beginning. The Mountain, an effort from the modern prog-rock band Haken, does this beautifully with its tranquil opener The Path, and leads a perfect transition into the piano arpeggios of Atlas Stone that eventually throws the listener into an explosion of heavy prog, contextualizing what the album intends to do for the rest of its length. In a sense, this well-crafted opener reminds me of prog-rock classics like Close to the Edge or Foxtrot, except Haken's efforts aren't derivative and instead establish their own sounds through the opener.

Though the arrangements of individual songs are unpolished and sometimes unfocused (especially towards the beginning with the chaotic Atlas Stone and Cockroach King), the album as a whole is an excellent portrait of what Haken can do next. It is clear that the members have pursued new musical territory, with a wide variety of genres being explored from acapella in Because It's There to conventional jazz in Cockroach King. Sometimes the genre diversions can feel disorienting and out-of-place, however, they never fall below the quality that the album has established as a precedent.

Many of the tracks are triumphant representations of prog rock, though the pristine track of the album is Cockroach King, which is a fantastic amalgamation of various prog-rock influences, from the vocal harmonies of Gentle Giant to the synthesizer wackiness that can be seen across many classic bands such as Yes. The problem with a perfect track being situated in the middle of the album is that the subsequent tracks feel underwhelming compared to the creativity of the opening trio of songs, though the later tracks feature more focused compositions and fewer genre diversions that can both be an improvement and a boring detraction. Falling Back to Earth, although a concentrated effort of progressive metal, is noticeably less creative than the other progressive metal track Pareidolia, and both less creative compared to the heavy prog modifications Haken added within the first few songs. As a result, the album loses a lot of musical excitement towards the back half. I found myself distracted more once Falling Back to Earth came, though my focus was revived once the quiet reflection of As Death Embraces leads into the slow buildup of Pareidolia that marches the listener into a dark and brooding climax that helps finalize and conclude the various emotions and tensions introduced throughout the album.

Despite the few compositional mishaps, this album is nearly perfect due to the talent of the instrumentalists and the creativity of the production. From the heavily plucked guitar arpeggios in Pareidolia reminiscent of Close to the Edge to the quirky bridge of Cockroach King or odd vocal effects near the end of In Memoriam, we can see both the extreme talent of the players as well as the creative control they have over their instruments. As a bassist myself, I'd love to shout out Thomas MacLean for his versatile bass work on Cockroach King. The various tones that he incorporates throughout the track--as well as the various genre influences--is a sight regularly unseen within heavy prog-rock.

Although this has grown to be the peak effort of Haken when compared to their recent releases, there is more in them that they can achieve within their discography. I believe that The Mountain is a representation of what they can achieve, and now the only step for the band is to master cohesiveness within their albums. All in all, the album should be required listening for modern prog (due to it already surpassing the quality of other albums), but I believe it's not the end for Haken's efforts and what their talents can achieve next.

(When listening, be prepared for numerous jaw-dropping moments. When the album shines, it REALLY shines.)

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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