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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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MountainMountain
Inside Out U.S. 2013
Audio CD$8.28
$11.61 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$9.40
$11.37 (used)
AquariusAquarius
Sensory Records 2010
Audio CD$9.24
$10.00 (used)
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HAKEN shows & tickets


  • Rosfest on 1 May 2015
  • Hellfest 2015 on 19 Jun 2015
  • UK Tech-Metal Fest on 9 Jul 2015
  • Be Prog! My Friend on 11 Jul 2015
  • Night of the Prog X on 17 Jul 2015
  • Euroblast 11 on 1 Oct 2015

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)

4.07 | 770 ratings
Aquarius
2010
4.09 | 758 ratings
Visions
2011
4.18 | 693 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)

4.04 | 58 ratings
Demo 2007-2008
2008
3.68 | 44 ratings
Restoration
2014

HAKEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Restoration by HAKEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.68 | 44 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
4.18 | 693 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
3.68 | 44 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
3.68 | 44 ratings

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Restoration
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

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
4.09 | 758 ratings

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Visions
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion 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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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.18 | 693 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by frogeater

4 stars After experiencing somewhat mixed feelings about Visions and its overall balance, compared to an outstanding debut album in my opinion, I bought The Mountain right after release with moderate enthousiasm. It took me a couple of listenings to get used to diversity of atmospheres, where Aquarius was more homogeneous. Nevertheless tracks like Cockroach King or Pareidolia proved catchy and then the variety is what makes it possible to listen to this album without any feeling of tiredness. All in all the most impressive point is that this 3rd album does not have any taste of more-of-the-same compared to the previous two efforts. Individually, the musicians are all good, the voice is definitely getting finer, keyboardist is no virtuoso but ensure the atmosphere is there, the 2 guitarists are very complementary if not born shredders, drum and bass provide the right foundation for those multiple atmospheres, and make everything sound easy and simple when compositions are actually complex. That's the main strength of Haken to me: it does not sound technical or virtuoso, there is no solo exploit, but it feels really tight and rich in sound. The production is impeccable as well.

Then there is one thing I must say: I am in my mid 30s and I have never listened - or rather, never really enjoyed - 70s-80s prog rock. Since this very album I tried a couple of Gentle Giant, I did listen to some Rush, ELP, King Crimson etc... but never got hooked and it never shocked me that Haken blatantly plagiarized without adding their personal pinch of salt. This seems to be a common criticism amongst the crowd of older prog fundamentalists... I am a fan of Dream Theater first and of the series of prog metal bands it contributed to engender; Thus I cannot comment on similarities with old prog rock, but I can say I am happy that a band uses influences to create something I truly enjoy. And for what I know, there is little trace of Dream Theater in there (that cannot be said of Circus Maximus for example, which I adore as well - or to a lesser extent of the Aquarius album).

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.18 | 693 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by ergaster

2 stars Lots of my friends love this album to death, and it seems to have rated pretty highly in a bunch of prog-type year-end music lists and suchlike...so finally I broke down and listened to it a few times.

Wow. And I don't mean that in a good way.

Now, there is lots of virtuosity here, no argument. These guys can really play, they have moments of compositional brilliance, there are seconds in a row where I can appreciate the sheer unapologetic progness of the enterprise....

...but holy god guys, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it. I don't think there is a "prog" meme or trope or notion or bridge or passage or stereotype these guys haven't used. Repeatedly. Over and over and over, bludgeoning the listener with sheer unadulterated progacity into whimpering submission.

And influences are one thing...but seriously...Okay, you like Gentle Giant. But you don't have to like them every thirty seconds for a bloody hour. Even occasionally tossing some Porcupine Tree tributes into the mix can't save this mess.

I just don't get it. The Mountain is like a parody of everything that made prog a laughing stock back in the day. This isn't brilliance, it is a relentless, poorly-thought-out stew of derivative "prog rock" spewed out by my speakers. It's too bad really, because there are some decent moments.

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.18 | 693 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Dream Theater once played music kind of like this, so we should all just stop wasting our time and blast Scenes from a Memory one more time, right?

Seriously though, Haken are not "copying" anyone, and it's more than irritating to see repeated accusations of plagiarism. If they're guilty, then we all are!

My experience with Haken was interesting, because I thought they were a new band of young players just getting started in the prog world. Casual listens to their first two albums confirmed this belief in my mind, although the production and effects did seem mature for prog newbies. Fast-forward to recently: after finally doing some actual research, my initial impression was clearly wrong. Haken started off with plenty of playing chops and have put in the songwriting time and effort to improve. Now I see Haken as respected veterans, and The Mountain sounds like it was produced by such.

To the music: What a fun and varied album! They introduce some tantalizing vocal harmonies, creative riffs and counterpoints, and tasteful keys and effects. More importantly, the band has also added by subtraction, by which I mean removing aspects of previous albums that were almost certainly turnoffs for many listeners (i.e., the goofy jazzy bits that don't fit, and the vocal bits that are clearly not part of Jennings' range/ability). Prog is certainly about mixing influences, but transitions and progressions matter, and the strategies chose in The Mountain largely work quite well.

Highlights: Of course, Cockroach King is immediately a form of crack to prog ears, and it's quite an accomplishment, and also has a delightfully oddball and British-y feel. Pareidolia is perhaps the most derivative, but it sets up a killer late section groove that really delivers a therapeutic climax. The best highlights for me, however, are In Memoriam, which, like Gentle Giant, throws in ten minutes worth of ideas and makes it work in five. Falling Back to Earth is also a keeper: even though the metal bits sound a bit generic, that spacey build-up toward the end is simply awesome. That's my favorite kind of metal--not just playing faster and heavier, but instead building up the listen and then delivering pure power crunching at the perfect time.

Lowlights: As Death Embraces is simply wimpy and not the best showpiece for Ross' voice, and the chorus of Somebody is way too generic, repetitive and irritating (which is a shame, because there is a nice vocal round section, and a memorable Hans Zimmer, Inception-era horn-blatting finale).

This album was quite the pleasant surprise, because I did not enjoy previous Haken material as much as prog reviews and ratings might have let me to predict. Here's looking for more innovative material from the group, although this has the feel of an album that might represent a career pinnacle.

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.18 | 693 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I agree that this is a really good album but it just doesn't grab me as a masterpiece. It might just be my taste but the sappy piano ballad parts really make me bark at the moon and remove a star for me. As for the rest of the album there are some really great prog metal twists and turns that are really exciting but some of the influences are just a wee bit too obvious. "Cockroach King" is an good example. It's just a little TOO Gentle Giant. In fact this band relies a lot on borrowing rather than creating. That's all fine and dandy since I like similar bands such as Magic Pie and The Gourishankar who have similar sounds and approaches. HAKEN does up the ante with that formula a bit and really manages to keep it interesting and instead of floating from one genre to the other they do package it well but for all of the reasons i've already sited means this is a very good but not outstanding album for me.

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 The Mountain by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.18 | 693 ratings

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The Mountain
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is one of those albums that so wonderfully fit in to what progressive music is about. It should not be rated out of 5 or 10 but out of 100 because the only places where I feel points could be taken off are in small pedantic considerations of personal preference. It is not that I am head over heels about every song, but even the songs that haven't securely grabbed my attention and secured my listening intensiveness are still masterfully crafted. This is a great achievement in both progressive music in general and progressive metal. Haken mix the light with the heavy, the beautiful with the bombastic, eclecticism with a little eccentricity and create a diversified yet unified album without loosing themselves as a progressive metal band. They had an idea which they built into a concept and developed into a album. Where they needed a clever idea they found one, and where they had an idea they found a place for it. Well played, Haken. Well played indeed.

I am not familiar with Haken's first two releases though I had been listening to samples on Amazon on and off. They were one of those bands I might have wanted to check out later. However, after I read so many rave reviews on PA and MMA I thought this new album might really be worth giving my ears and money. And oh yeah, it sure was.

Stylistically speaking, I find myself often thinking of Gentle Giant meets System of a Down with some Dark Suns added in. But Haken have made use of so many good ideas spread across the history of prog rock and metal including gentle piano and strings, pseudo-Gregorian chant and minor key barbershop quartet, quirky and bizarre musical effects, jazzy sections, and an array of other musical techniques both within and beyond the heavy metal spectrum.

Fans of less heavy progressive rock will find moments of rapture. Fans of metal will find moments for head banging. Fans of both will declare this album a modern triumph of progressive music.

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