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Haken - Virus CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.59 | 310 ratings

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3 stars With Virus I finally decided to dive in the discography of Haken and see what they're all about, and i'm very glad I did. This was the first album I really fully listened to from them, I think it's a great and truly progressive album that will certainly make the 2020 podium for me. The album is stellar from a production standpoint, it checks all the right boxes for how a modern rock/metal album should sound. Front to back we have no shortage of memorable hooks, nasty riffs and chugging rhythms. This is a very guitar-centric album with the keys playing a little more of a supporting role, however when they do shine through they really help to set the stage for a very pristine and modern sound. Prosthetic kicks off the album in an electrifying fashion packing fiery interplay and a great hook. Apparently this track is a bridge between the previous album Vector (which I haven't heard yet) and Virus. Invasion is another track I really enjoy with this very interesting steady staccato vocal delivery opening things up. The instrumentation satisfyingly kicks in playing off of the vocals with some sweet grooves in the mix. Once again the main chorus is just super catchy and I love the somewhat unconventional nature of it. All these songs are very dense, they're just jam packed with twisting instrumental passages that surely leave this album with a ton of replay value. The third track Carousel is my favorite on the album and far and away my favorite song of 2020 (so far....). This songwriting and structure of this track is so strong, I get so excited just hearing the opening vocal line. It gives me the same vibes as something like Ghost of Perdition or The Glass Prison by Opeth and Dream Theater respectively, where I feel like it's just a thrilling 10+ minute showcase of face-melting riffage, memorable vocal lines, great lyrics and several high musical peaks. The riff at 0:44 is just filthy, I also want to highlight the main guitar solo in the second half of this track. Honestly just listen to this song, any descriptive words I can put together simply can't do it justice. The Strain is a good track that perhaps comes up just a little short after a bit of a three punch combo with the opening trio of songs, though I always smile when he sings in the strained voice while singing the line "Strain my voice." I can say the same for Canary Yellow which is a generally nice softer track, but it doesn't get me all that particularly excited. I usually enjoy is while i'm listening, but I don't think its all that memorable. I think it's these two middle tracks that keep the album from potentially reaching into higher rating territories. The following 5-track suite of "Messiah Complex" is fantastic with its stunning and engaging twists and turns, thundering riffs as well as dynamic and creative rhythm patterns. I find that this track always goes by very fast which I think is a testament to the high quality maintained throughout as well as generally good pacing which can possibly be attributed to breaking the track up into shorter sections. The album ends on the short and mellow "Only Stars" which is a decent little bookend to the album, I could take or leave it.

In conclusion, Virus is an excellent and tasteful progressive metal album with djent tendencies. I think it dips a little in the middle, but it manages to end on a very high note. I enjoy this album a lot and I think i'll be revisiting it for years to come. I'm very excited to backtrack through the discography of Haken and hear what else they have to offer!

4 Stars

dougmcauliffe | 3/5 |


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