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Haken - Visions CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.13 | 1109 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Prog-rock golden boys Haken's second album is an unquestioningly excellent showcase of hard rockin', not-quite- metal, not-quite-classic-prog. Visions has production values and performances that are off the charts with technical competency. This album hits hard, drifts ambiently, and hits all the right notes between. It's a great example of the modern genre. The songwriting is creative and effective, and the vocals passionately delivered. So, is it a masterpiece? (grumble grumble). Maybe.

If you're not familiar with Haken, you probably should be. They're on a winning streak of tremendous prog-rock that is heavier, faster, and more creative than most of the neo-prog bands, but not so noisy and vapid as some of the prog- metal bands; they've found a wonderful balance in their sound that wears classic prog influences on their sleeves, but not in a way that detracts from the listening experience. Visions strongest points are its deep, polished songwriting and impeccable instrumental performances. These guys not only have monster chops, but real instincts on how to use them to create varied and interesting songs. There's a sense of momentum to the album that tells a narrative all by itself, even without the heavy use of lyrics and vocals. Listening is a lot of fun, and feels like a complete experience upon conclusion - exactly how one should feel after listening to this kind of music!

So why not 5 stars? For me, it's the vocals and lyrics. Jennings is a totally competent vocalist, but his voice and lyrics don't resonate with me. The narrative within the lyrics are sort of a weird hybrid of narrative and existentialism that just bounces off of me. It works best when he's in the abstract, singing verses that sound more like poetry instead of trying to string a plot through the whole thing. My other criticism is that the production of the vocals doesn't feel big enough to fill the scope of sound that the band is creating. Jennings' high timbre is sort of crushed by the whirlwind of hard riffing that accompanies him. The sound would benefit from overdubs in a lower register.

So, is it a quibble? Not really, when it contributes to something that prevents an album from creating an emotional response in the listener. But believe me, Visions as a whole is an outstanding album that contains more "wow" moments within songs that you'll hear on the last three Dream Theater albums combined. A worthy addition to any heavy prog lovers' library!

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |


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