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Haken - Virus CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.59 | 310 ratings

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5 stars This album is crazy. I can't think of any other album from 2020 I've heard so far that defines "progressive rock". These guys are not sound chasers, looking to recreate the musical palette of older bands. This is an album that only cites one influence, and it cities it so heavily you can't help but wonder what they were even thinking when they decided to take a chorus from one of their most popular songs and make a 20 minute epic out of it? I don't even know where to start with this album, so I'll start where I think they want me to; their previous album. This album continues the story of the previous album, and yes there was one. Something very important here is listening over and over again with the lyric booklet, to both of these albums. This is some "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" level stuff, I keep listening and the picture becomes easier to visualize. This is such a multi-layered puzzle box with such clear layers and pieces, it's incredible really. This is a collection of two albums that never stops giving... I want to take a quick look at each track and then what I think makes this truly a perfect album.

I've seen several reviews call Prosthetic a "to the point opener", someone even likened this track to Fear Factory which I think about every time I listen to the first 90 seconds of focused heavy metal playing. This begins simply and then starts to unravel, as Haken like to do, and within those 90 seconds you have 6 or 7 different riffs and sections, but it never feels too frantic or unfocused. Invasion continues, reminding one of Leprous at first before giving that distinct sound I call the "Haken chord", also found at the start of Puzzle Box on the previous album. Carousel might be the best Haken song overall and I don't want to say much more, what a brilliant progression of sections. The Strain is delightful, Haken like to put a slower piece in the center but the reduced BPM doesn't change the fact they are crafting a brilliant song, within the confines of a longer story and theme, and all musicians are constantly showing off in a very non-obnoxious way. Here we can draw comparisons to Rush. Canary Yellow is slow and deliberate, once again a nice song, an attempt to calm us before we are attacked again. The production stands out here more than ever; this album sounds beautiful. There are so many tracks at once and everything sounds so...correct. Everything breathes the way it should and not one note ever sounds out of place or poorly mixed. The praise doesn't stop as we reach Messiah Complex which still baffles me, and I have heard this album well over 100 times now. What other band just... takes a piece of an older song and makes it a new song, and we all love it? We listen to them repeat pieces of Vector and The Mountain in a new context and I don't speak for everyone, but I don't groan, I think "this is such a confident and complete piece of music". Haken have done pieces of similar length before, but this one has about one minute of "downtime" in part 3, otherwise it's a constant heavy metal epic. Calling back to their own achievements, wearing their influences on their sleeves and creating something new because they can. Only Stars is a great ending, about 2 minutes of Ross Jennings and atmosphere. I don't need anything else from a closing track. If this ended a concert I would probably be the first audible "WOOO".

If you've skipped out, please listen. This is a sequel to Vector, although I honestly don't hear any sort of connection between A Cell Divides and Prosthetic, apparently they are a bridge between the albums? 2018's Vector and 2020's Virus are Haken's defining statement and I agree with it. Haken are telling us they have only been around for 10 years, and yet they are the future of their own type of music. I appear to be able to listen to this every day and encourage you to try it if you haven't. Easy 5 stars

Corcoranw687 | 5/5 |


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