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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 04 2020 at 10:36
My long overdue Haken review...
#7 – Virus (by Haken) Review – Five Stars 

Haken is one of those bands that becomes better with each record, and this is their masterpiece. Musically, I think this is a concept album (which I’ll go into later), though I don’t know if it has a story. Whatever, it’s a great album and I recommend to all. 

The album begins with the bombastic “Prosthetic”, a mainly instrumental track with just two distorted verses, and a few rounds of choruses. I think this is Virus’s overture, some of the structures, if not exact riffs, are repeated later on. It demonstrates Haken’s powers of musicianship immediately, imaginative riffing, various motifs, and – believe or not, a catchy chorus! I can actually remember the words! Anyway, an eye-opening opener. 

Next, solo vocals accompanied by a synth begin “Invasion”. More imaginative riffing, but with a (only slightly) more conventional structure (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle section-verse-instumental-verse-chorus-instrumental). Don’t let that turn you away, hardcore proggers! This is the first proper song on Virus, begins things nicely for the vocals, and is another top-notch track.  

Nothing compared, perhaps, to what’s coming. “Carousel” opens quietly, but gets louder quite quickly, and that’s all I’ll say. The song boasts complex structure, idiosyncratic time signatures, some of the best playing yet and an epic accomplishment altogether. Talking of the word “epic”, this song really is the first epic – anything you might want in a song is here. That’s all you need to know; if you buy it/have just bought it this one to look out for. 

“Strain” begins with a fairly quiet guitar riff that, like “Carousel”, becomes loud.  It pretty much sticks to this all through the song, which is almost like an aftermath to “Carousel” (and if this really is a concept album, it probably is about a strain of a/the virus). It reminds me of another band I reviewed recently for the modern/new prog blog, Taskaha (not yet listed on PA), featuring hard rock but a very dramatic, emotional side to it.  

After “Strain”, the lighter “Canary Yellow” enters with drums and soft guitar. At about one and a half minutes through it becomes heavier, until it breaks down completely, and slowly starts building up again. And then it explodes. I suppose it’s a bit of a personal favourite for me, it’s very well done, and not too long or heavy. But that’s the end of what I like to refer to as... PART ONE. 

PART TWO, therefore, opens with “Messiah Complex I: Ivory Tower” (the first part of the Messiah Complex sequence). It begins with a muted guitar riff that soon develops into a loud, heavy riff. From there I won’t describe it, but it basically acts like the prelude to the whole sequence: dark, mysterious, almost warning of what’s ahead. 

The next part, “Messiah Complex II: A Glutton for Punishment”, flows effortlessly from “Ivory Tower” with a much faster, bombastic riff. The vocals are shouted over this throughout (though there are several changes made from the original riff – variations, if you know what I mean. It’s probably the loudest track on the album – in a good way, though. 

“Messiah Complex III: Marigold” opens a lot quieter than “A Glutton for Punishment”, but does not stay that way (Haken are prog metal, after all) - at about fifty-five seconds in a killer of a riff comes in that in my mind literally says anarchy. At about one minute thirty it slows down to a stomp and the distorted lyrics come in. In fact, I’ll take back what I said about just the riff saying anarchy. It’s the whole song. It’s completely crazy. But anyway...  

The sequence continues with “Messiah Complex IV: The Sect, opening with the same riff, which then stops and some weird harmonised vocals start. It’s probably the most techy, advanced track on the album – there are some especially weird synths and... a saxophone solo? That’s what it sounds like. It soon ends, however, into... 

“Messiah Complex V: Ectobius Rex”. The deadly ender. It begins with a fateful guitar riff, which builds up into a slow rhythmed song featuring some reprises from “Ivory Tower”, “Prosthetic” and “Carousel”. It has every quality of a finale – especially the crescendo at the end. It isn’t, though... 

“Only Stars” is. It starts with a dark piano ostinato accompanied by vocals, and stays like that until the end when it fades out. It is very quiet; like a rest from the loud, powerful Messiah Complex. Certainly a chilling outro – and the end of PART TWO, as I personally like to say. 

And so, I reach my conclusion. The question is, is it five stars or not five stars? To aid me in this decision, I present my personal requirements for a five star album, that I like to add to very one of my reviews to make it look all fancy and official: 

  1. 1. The songs must all be excellent.  

  1. 2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and in the end, both requirements are met. Every song is excellent (the Messiah Complex sequence in particular) and they couldn’t work better together. I really can’t fault this album. So it’s a strong five stars. 

[End of Review]



Edited by FatherChristmas - October 04 2020 at 10:40
"Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence" - Robert Fripp
"I am an anti-Christ" - Johnny Rotten
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 06 2020 at 12:19
Honestly wasn't sure where to post this, but decided on here as it's my project:
I will be taking a short break from posting at PA. I know I said recently there were lot of interesting threads about, but I keep having the same arguments with people and I'm getting a bit tired of it all. I'll still be posting my reviews here, I just won't be talking to anyone outside of this thread.
For my next review, I think'll I'll do an Iamthemorning album, since they seem so popular here. Smile
"Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence" - Robert Fripp
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Grumpyprogfan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 06 2020 at 13:58
^Don't go. You were one of the few people I could relate to.

Edited by Grumpyprogfan - October 06 2020 at 13:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Psychedelic Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 06 2020 at 14:52
Originally posted by FatherChristmas FatherChristmas wrote:

I keep having the same arguments with people and I'm getting a bit tired of it all. . Smile
I wonder who you've been having the same arguments/discussions with. Wink
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 07 2020 at 12:33
Originally posted by Grumpyprogfan Grumpyprogfan wrote:

 
^Don't go. You were one of the few people I could relate to.
And likewise. I came here for the music though, not arguing, and I don't want to be the one who's constantly biting everyone's head off. I'll still be reviewing though. I've settled on Iamthemorning's The Bell, their most recent release (something tells me I won't be reviewing Yazoo though, Psycho Paul Wink).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote foregonillusions Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 07 2020 at 21:34
It's quite hard, but you don't have to argue. Just post and be happy!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2020 at 06:57
Originally posted by foregonillusions foregonillusions wrote:

It's quite hard, but you don't have to argue. Just post and be happy!
Guess you're right. Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2020 at 13:23
I haven’t done any reviews in ages, my apologies for my late laziness. After being told I was a very comprehensive reviewer, I’ve decided to take a new stance and focus more on evaluating the album, what’s good, what’s bad, etc. rather than going track-by-track.

#8 – The Bell (by iamthemorning) Review - Four Stars

Iamthemorning, like so many modern prog bands today, has strived to become different from what you might call “normal” prog (if any prog is normal). They, in particular, combine prog with classical music – perhaps not the first band to do so (one that I am fond of is Barock Project), but even then, any other prog band I’ve heard with classical influences still doesn’t sound remotely like it. You have to hear it to know what I mean. 

Anyway, the band’s latest album opens with “Freak Show”, a song that builds up from a simple guitar melody to a very upbeat, thick textured song – probably my favourite on the album. It’s not the only achievement though, “Ghost of a Story”, “The Bell” and “Lillies” are another two honourable mentions – the astonishing piano on “Lilies” so fast it’s worthy of Chopin (ok, maybe not that good). 

This album is (loosely) about Victorian England – I say loosely as each track is a story on it’s own, generally about human cruelty. Musically, it is inspired by Schubert, which you can tell from the lovely piano played throughout. The music and lyrics are beautifully written, and the album is in two parts – something featured sometimes in both prog and classical operas. 

What’s really good to see is the variety of instruments – instead of just your quintessential classical instruments (violins, trumpets, etc.) you can hear marimbas, bells, and a very nice guitar solo on “Freak Show”. Nevertheless, it is not less classical than Iamthemorning’s previous albums, in fact, it is perhaps more so, there is very little rock in the texture and melodies of The Bell. 

To conclude, my requirements for a five star album - 

  1. 1. The songs must all be excellent. 

  1. 2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 

Number one is fine – as I said earlier, the music and lyrics are beautifully written. As for number two, the songs work perfectly well together, but it is a bit heavy in places. I don’t mean that it’s like metal, but that it can get what you might call “a bit much” - listen to too much of it and it’ll give you a headache (for me, at least). It’s a bit difficult to explain, some might agree, some might disagree, but it knocks off a star for me – I'd want to listen to a five star album all day. 

So it’s another four star review! 

[End of Review]

Tell me, is this a better way of writing reviews than going track-by-track as I do usually?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2020 at 12:31
^ As usual, I answer my own questions. LOL
From now, I think I'll go back to my old way of doing it.
And my next review will be of the post metal band Bossk's album Audio Noir, which I have only just added onto the site (it wasn't on the database beforehand).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Psychedelic Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2020 at 13:11
Originally posted by FatherChristmas FatherChristmas wrote:

^ As usual, I answer my own questions. LOL
From now, I think I'll go back to my old way of doing it.
And my next review will be of the post metal band Bossk's album Audio Noir, which I have only just added onto the site (it wasn't on the database beforehand).
I always write my album reviews by going through them track-by-track, but I don't relish the prospect when there are twenty tracks on an album. Smile
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