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Haken The Mountain album cover
4.21 | 1315 ratings | 45 reviews | 51% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Path (2:47)
2. Atlas Stone (7:34)
3. Cockroach King (8:15)
4. In Memoriam (4:17)
5. Because It's There (4:24)
6. Falling Back to Earth (11:51)
7. As Death Embraces (3:13)
8. Pareidolia (10:51)
9. Somebody (9:01)

Total Time 62:13

Bonus tracks on 2013 IOM editions:
10. The Path Unbeaten (2:12)
11. Nobody (4:53)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ross Jennings / lead vocals
- Charles Griffiths / guitars, backing vocals
- Richard Henshall / guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Diego Tejeida / keyboards, sound design, backing vocals
- Thomas MacLean / bass, backing vocals
- Raymond Hearne / drums, percussion, cimbasso, tuba, backing vocals

- Joey 'Dah Lipz' Ryan / French horn
- Matthew Lewis / trombone
- Barry Clements / bass trombone

Releases information

Artwork: Joanna Krause

2LP+CD Inside Out Music - IOMLP 388 (2013, Germany)

CD Inside Out Music - IOMLTDCD 388 (2013, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Inside Out Music - 0659-2 (2013, US) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Mazzar Records - MZR CD 643 (2013, Russia)
CD Belle Antique - MAR 132161 (2013, Japan)

Thanks to Sr. Valasco for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HAKEN The Mountain ratings distribution

(1315 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(51%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

HAKEN The Mountain reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
4 stars "Life is a dream: a gift we receive"

"Once upon a time, there was a band named Haken". The story of Haken really should begin that way because this band is showing the world time and time again that they have the chops, the maturity, the composition skills, and the sheer emotional enunciation to be put at the top of the prog pile. As Haken's new album, "The Mountain", approaches; the prog world holds its collective breath until one question is answered: "Will they be able to do it a third time?" The answer? "But, of course".

Yet, I would argue that this is the fourth time that they have wowed us: Their original demo from 2007-2008, "Enter the 5th Dimension", is a masterwork in its own right, and I believe that "The Mountain" can best be understood when this demo is considered, too. You see, Haken has proven themselves to be masters of styling music around a theme. With "Aquarius", Haken explored fantasy which involved very fluid and epic arrangements. Next, they experimented with psychedelia in "Visions"; which, obviously, involved one heck of a mind trip and a very circular, technical style of music. With "The Mountain", however, they are exploring much more palpable material; as the style is very raw, personal, and almost adventurous.

The songs often center on the vocals, but the instrumental passages are as lively and creative as ever. We get the well-known Hakenisms; such as the acrobatic riffing, the amazing and appropriate drumming, and the delicious bass that bounces all over the place. One thing that changes on each album, however, is the keyboard style. This time around, the keys are very ethereal, airy, and atmospheric. Yes, you can almost feel the cloudy cliffs all around you. Sometimes, there is even a neo-prog style to the keys that takes an incredible track and lifts it to new heights. Along the way, "The Mountain" gives us even more creativity with jazzy portions, choir arrangements that make you feel like you are on a mountaintop, raw and emotional ballads, and plenty of horns.

But, why do I say that their original demo is needed in order to absorb this new album? I think that one of Haken's original influences has been brought back into play: Gentle Giant. Haken's original demo is very folksy, medieval, and features a vast amount of vocal harmonization. This is exactly one thing that sets "The Mountain" apart from the rest of Haken's albums: a Shulman brothers style of vocal harmonization that Haken's vocalist/lyricist, Ross Jennings, pulls off by himself. Thus, metal fans might be surprised to hear "a cappella" passages, vocal portions that seem to answer and supplement each other, beautiful vocal-sustain portions, and other surprising uses of Jennings' voice. Is this a turn-off? Not in the least. Haken has always been notorious for their quirk, and now they are becoming not notorious, but endearing and impressive. Jennings has one of the best voices in music. Period.

Now, let's talk songs. Everyone wants to know, "Is there an epic?" Emphatically, there is not. This album does not fall into the structure of their previous albums, and with good reason. This album doesn't need an epic because it is highly personal and candid. It does, however, feature nine amazing tracks that range from quiet and pensive ("The Path", "In Memoriam", "As Death Embraces") to heavy and technical with jazzy and quiet interludes ("Falling Back to Earth", "Pareidolia", "Atlas Stone"). A couple tracks are in between ("Because It's There", "Somebody") and may even include horns or a touch of pop, but both center around Jennings' voice.

However, there's just one more track to discuss, and I believe it is not only the best track on this album, but also the best track I've heard this year: "Cockroach King". I could write an entire review on this track because it is powerful both musically and lyrically. This is the definitive track on "The Mountain" where we get a little bit of everything I've mentioned so far. However, on this track, Haken really brings the quirk. The bouncing and odd vocals, the psychedelic keys, the epic chorus, and the general Middle Earth feeling all combine to make this the definitive track, not only on this album, but also of Haken's career. It perfectly covers all of their albums to date, and it could even be called a tribute of sorts. In addition, this track has one of the most thought-provoking themes I've heard this year, so I believe that "Cockroach King" will be the song that everyone is talking about on "The Mountain".

So, as you view the solitary peak on the front of "The Mountain", know that you are in for a journey lyrically, musically, emotionally, and even spiritually. The music is a bit heavier than before, but the album also features a few tracks that might be the softest that Haken has crafted yet. In other words, "The Mountain" has a stunning balance to it. There is something for everyone here. I also feel that everyone will be able to relate to the incredible theme that Jennings has created: The album covers the trials, tribulations, battles, goals, and successes that we each have on our own journey up the mountain. This album is about life. It is about death. It is about the human experience. I won't spoil anything here (though, I will be spotlighting this album on my Facebook page, The PROG Mind, soon), but suffice it to say that you will find yourself tearing up, nodding in silent agreement, and falling in love with this album. I'm truly beginning to believe in this band, and I certainly hope the ending to Haken's story, "And they lived happily ever after", is a long way from now.

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
5 stars Haken has found a way to add new arrangements and sounds to their prog metal symphonic style. They still give us their share of times signatures, but this time there's some tone variation, especially with the vocals harmonies. The songs offers some of the most enjoyable melodic development you can find in the progressive metal genre. The band continue his recipe by juxtaposing many styles from metal, to jazz and classical, but there is a different atmosphere from previous efforts. There's some heavier parts with the guitar riffs and at the same time, some lighter, beautiful and intense moments, illustrated by the vocals and the piano lines.

Every songs keep the listener busy, because you want discover on the next step through the mountain, what is hidden. But you know that the journey is intense and enjoyable from the start to the finish. Let's climb to the highest point of excellence in the Haken's mountain. There are no standout tracks on this, every songs flow well together. After their 2 first excellent releases, i was not sure if this band could pull it off again, but they did better than this, with their best release yet.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars I was sat at my desk the other day when I was asked if I had yet played Haken's 'The Mountain'. When I responded by saying that it was on my list and hadn't got to it yet, I was told that I needed to. So, when I got home that night I made the time to actually play it for the first time. It was a lot later when I was asked if I was actually going to go to bed, as I had just sat there in awe, taken away into a new musical world. To say that this is one of the finest albums to ever come out of the prog scene is something of an understatement, but accurate. I've just had a quick look on PA to see what others feel about this and note that there are two collaborator/expert reviews, both of whom give it 5*'s, and I am convinced that the only reason they have done that is because we're not able to give it any more.

This is absolutely stunning stuff, arguably taking Spock's Beard to a whole new level. But, that argument would in itself be flawed as they have instead looked to one of SB's influences, the incredible Gentle Giant (surely still one of the most under-rated British prog acts ever, and I know that they are rated highly, just not highly enough), and have moved on from there. Honestly, I have no idea where to start with writing about this. The vocals and harmonies are incredible, and they go from full on metallic monstrosity to a cappella in a way that should never be possible, but somehow with these guys it makes total sense. Metallic riffs combine with harmonies, strong bass with 'out there' keyboards, and the feeling that here is a band very much in control.

It is just not possible to fault this album, everything they do is accomplished and polished yet never loses that feeling of spontaneity and rawness that is so important. Unlike some progressive acts, there is nothing here that sounds contrived, the music just oozes honesty and passion. This is not something created by navel gazers in a sterile environment to prove how clever they are, but rather is the product of a band that are not going to conform to any pre-conceived ideas of what they should be producing but instead are out to do whatever they damn well please. I mean, what on earth is a prog band doing starting a song with a barbershop quartet? ('Because It's There'), but within the feel of the album as a whole it makes total sense with what they are doing.

My album of the year, of any genre, is Clive Nolan's 'Alchemy' (yes I know it's only September, but given how often I am playing it I just can't imagine anything else getting even close). But, although that features many famed progressive performers, it is in fact a theatrical musical production as opposed to a prog epic. When it comes to prog, I am convinced that I have found my album of the year and am listening to it now, as this is one of the most exciting and vibrant pieces of work that I have ever come across. The way that they can go from complex bombast to restrained and simple beauty, such as on 'As Death Embraces' where the vocals and piano interplay is quite different to what has gone before, but still contains a compelling majesty.

Looking at reviews that have been posted in various places I note that not everyone shares my opinion, but life would certainly be boring if everyone had the same view on everything. However, if you have never heard Haken then the time to do it is now, and if you have, then you can rest assured that these guys have kept pushing the envelope to create something which is stunning, just stunning.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Progressive rock and prog metal bands, are of course, often expected to experiment with their sound a little - the clue's in the word "progressive", right? - but even so this often is more the result of a gradual evolution rather than sudden creative leaps, especially when a band has already established a solid reputation with their previous sound and the very real risk of turning off their established fanbase mitigates against wild experimentation.

Haken, I'm glad to say, have shown the courage to take their sound in an intriguing new direction; the Dream Theater and other conventional prog metal influences I heard on their previous albums are scaled back dramatically (as, indeed, is the metal aspect of their sound - there's still plenty of metal here but it's competing with a wider range of influences this time - a bit of ethereal wave here, a bit of jazz-rock there, a bit of symphonic prog over there...), and in the compositions that make up The Mountain they engage in a series of interesting vocal experiments, playing around with harmony, rounds, and other complex intertwined vocal modes. They also incorporate a lot more piano and keyboards too; fans of up-and-coming piano prog duo iamthemorning may find the intro to Atlas Stone, for instance, reminiscent of that outfit's work.

Delving into these experiments to an extent unmatched by any other prog band I can think of with the exception of Gentle Giant and their imitators (and even then, they don't sound much like Gentle Giant here), Haken are clearly following their own blueprint here, and I suspect they might lose a few fans who prefer the more conventional prog metal sound of their previous albums as a result, but hopefully most prog listeners will recognise true originality when they hear it. Haken have grown on me rapidly with successive releases and with The Mountain I think they've finally begun to live up to the hype which surrounded their earlier albums.

Review by admireArt
1 stars This is a general public review. I, as a third unattached, NO COMPROMISES (no debts) observer, write it for ALL readers (not only for this band's followers, to be exact!). So forwarned, skip your "I HATE YOU!" mail, and follow your own instincts! (check my likings if you don't agree, I'm not for you!, easy does it)..... That spoken, I follow my review. HAKEN - The Mountain, is full of ballads or slow sections, that are supposed to be enhanced by contrast, with the fast-paced instrumental synchronizations, common to the genre. IMO, first thing is the song writing,.. performance comes next. So it could be that you are the fastest keyboardist or bass player, or even think you are Bob Dylan., at the end of the day, if the "canvas" is poor no matter how well or fast you play the results will be like that, poor. Therefore, even these guys "inspired" performances, the music itself does not go beyond its musical-composition, obvious limitations. They in fact offer very little in return, really, not a bit daring at all and completely PREDICTABLE, even at first listening you know what comes next and next and next,... boring!! Like a "reloaded" SUPERTRAMP, with an excessive un-pretentiousness that falls into childish, to put it lightly, tunes and lyrics. A band that relies too much on its vocalist's talents (1.5 pitch below Lee's), who by the way never shuts-up (idem), and becomes the boring lead man of the music behind. With no real musical proposal, they just play along the lines of the genre and follow the tedious "cheap-poetry" lyrics, all the way through. ...The saying goes- "that nobody can come up with the "corniest" ballads, BUT the "Heavies", sometimes even more than the Pop people...(except of course KC & The ZEP, but ironically, they are not in this Heavy-category). Well it's proven here with Haken!--- And of course, what made Dylan-Dylan, was not just his talents for the written word, it had to do mostly with his daring also, music composition, which here in "the Mountain", there is few and in drops. *1 PA "The "eagerness" in performance does not compensate for the TOOTHLESS, by the book. un-creative, musical composition results", star. Climb the ladder!!
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While I've listened to all of the Haken releases so far, and have been very impressed with the musicianship and compositional skills of the band, this is the first album in which I feel that the boys aren't just trying to "show off"--in which they aren't trying to purposely wow and dazzle. The slowed down compositional approach allows a more broad-spectrum emotional side of the band to be exhibited--which is what I've needed to feel engaged, drawn into the music. Both Aquarius and Visions are albums of impressive music, but The Mountain is the first I've liked well enough to actually buy. The impressive YouTube video for "Pariedolia" (10:51) (9/10) is what got me into really giving this album a serious listen. What makes me critical of this album, however, is the fact that virtually every song sounds familiar. "Atlas Stone" (7:34) (9/10) as excellent as it is, keeps reminding me of ANATHEMA, NEMO, Jem Godfrey's FROST* and AMPLIFIER's Octopus; "Cockroach King" (8:15) (9/10) seems like the band's foray into 'heavy' GENTLE GIANT and 10CC territory; "In Memoriam" (4:17) (8/10) brings me again to FROST*, ANATHEMA and STEVEN WILSON's recent more stuff (especially the vocals and lyrics); "Because It's There" (4:24) (7/10) out Moon's MOON SAFARI, but, in the end, it's just Moon Safari, isn't it? "Falling Back to Earth" (11:51) (9/10) has a cool combination of heavy metal and jazz in a MAD CRAYON/RIVERSIDE kind of way (excellent vocal, btw); "As Death Embraces" (3:14) (9/10) returns to a very STEVEN WILSON/RADIOHEAD kind of minimalist form (with better vocals, I must admit); "Pariedolia", as awesome as it is, could easily come from a PORCUPINE TREE album, and; "Somebody" (9:01) (8/10) plays out just like an ANATHEMA song, despite the silly "I wish I could have been somebody" vocal rondo section. Don't get me wrong, I've been enjoying this album--as a whole and as individual songs come up on my iPod shuffle. Sometimes I just get a little frustrated with the lack of originality or lack of innovation in today's music. Still, this is an excellent album--definitely worthy of four to five stars. A masterpiece? Probably.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Haken performs a masterpiece hat trick!

UK heavy prog kings Haken have always mesmirised me with their glorious blend of ambient prog and heavy instrumental blitzkriegs. Both previous albums delivered exceptional high quality prog rock and always offered a surprising array of musical styles. There was never a dull moment and overall the albums were masterfully produced. The band's lineup has not changed too much and on this latest release there is still the incomparable virtuoso musicianship of Charles Griffiths on guitars, Raymond Hearne on drums, Richard Henshall on keyboard and guitar, Thomas MacLean on bass and Diego Tejeida on keyboards. The vocals are well handled as usual by Ross Jennings, who can move from a range of octaves effortlessly. I always look forward to sitting down and being blown away by albums such as "Visions" released in 2011, so I was really hoping this new album would be something just as special, if not better.

The enigmatic Sisyphus inspired front cover is an immediate attention grabber. Obviously there is a concept involved somewhere with this. It opens with Gentle Giant nuances, a cappela harmonies, something the band returns to on songs such as 'Cockroach King'. The soundscape transforms to a heavy prog vibe as the guitars crank into life and then the crystalline vocals of Jennings chime in. 'The Path' starts off proceedings leading to the heavy approach on 'Atlas Stone'. This track takes more twists and turns then er.. Sisyphus himself. As that rock is rolled up that hill futilely and with blind purpose, the music takes on its own ambitious agenda. The keyboards are grandiose and they blaze over the incessant bass and drum rhythm machine.

'Cockroach King' channels Gentle Giant and then Genesis vocals, till after a springy boing there is a weird section of percussive mayhem. A lead guitar freakout and some squibbly electronics take on their own life. The time sig is fractured to pieces, and there are some quirky motifs that are at polar opposites to the actual melody. Suddenly it volcanos out into chugging distorted guitar riffs and shimmering keyboards. Then it breaks and channels a vintage Yes sound, before splashing out to an odd tempo instrumental. What a wonderful homage to the sensational golden era of 1970s prog!

'In Memoriam' opens with grand piano tinkling till an ultra heavy guitar riff destroys the ambience. A Porcupine Tree style vocal and melody locks in, then it leads to a raucous chorus. The mind blowing speed metal riff dominates for a moment till it moves to a slow meandering section. It all settles down with an a cappella harmony "life is a dream" and the harmonies are absolutely brilliant, like a progressive barbershop quartet. Then a broken tempo is heard as if someone had chopped up the mix; very complex and striking in its structure. 'Because It's There' is very tranquil driven by harmonies and some odd atmospherics.

'Falling Back to Earth' is an 11:51 rocker with some blazing guitar riffs, and a range of vocal styles. When Jennings reaches the high register it reminds me of Muse. The guitar chugs with a heavy low guttural distortion. The chorus is the one I remember the most when I return to this album. It has an infectious melody but the main drawcard of this masterful track is the experimental innovation on the instrumental break. There is a section that is like some manic jazz freakout and the time sig shifts boldly into adventurous directions. The lead guitar solo features some fret melting speed licks and spasmodic tempo shifts.

Somehow the track merges back to the main melody, with Dream Theater like precision. It settles into a haunting ambient passage of layered guitars. Then there is the memorable section with dreamy flowing harmonies "Ha-aaahh" and the lyrics that focus on the crest fallen angel falling back to earth into the ocean. The heavy distorted guitars return like an old friend, and some delightful vocalisations that add to the ethereal atmosphere. Finally we are treated to a pastoral flute, then it builds to a crescendo with swathes of synths and that catchy chorus; what a mind melting masterpiece!

'As Death Embraces' is minimalist piano and Jennings melancholy voice with the protagonist pleading for forgiveness at the end of his life as he leaves his wings behind and fate's doors close over. This quiet piece feels like a transition as we catch our breath before the next onslaught of delicious prog calisthenics. 'Pareidolia' is an almost 11 minute slice of infectious heavy prog. The melody grabs hold instantly and locks into the consciousness.

There is an Egyptian flavour, as we hear of the kingdom burning to the ground, and the treasure left for whoever to find in the desert. The sound gets heavier in the chorus and then a lead guitar riff bursts from captivity. The song delves into a very choppy staccato rhythm with the drums laying it on thick over metal guitar chunks. There is a freakout of hyper guitar and speed drums and some Egyptian sounding guitars thrown in; this is intense and builds into choral chants till it breaks and all is quietened again. There are vocals layered with harmonies, echoing phrases and some King Crimson like guitar rhythms take over for a while.

'Somebody' closes the album with a 9 minute finale, beginning with a calm atmosphere. The harmonised vocals are gorgeous on the chorus that has a melody that hooks into the memory.

The complexity on "The Mountain" is astounding, (how good would this be heard live!), and I admit at this point that half way through this I knew I was listening to another Haken masterpiece, who don't seem to be able to put a foot wrong. That's three masterpieces in a row for my ears and this latest release is perhaps the best in terms of musicianship and addictive melodies. Haken pour so much passion and energy on each release that it is impossible not to like if you are into the heavier side of prog while still demanding supreme complexity at the highest level, along with infectious songs that all have a unique and distinct flavour; Haken deliver every time and this is no mean feat. Somehow the band knows exactly how to hook in a listener, and they give every band member a chance to shine maintaining a strong unity with just the right amount of light and shade on every track. The Gentle Giant influences are prominent on this release, and it has its fair share of metal with classic prog influences sprinkled here and there. Haken are becoming one of the greatest prog bands of recent years because they deliver outstanding albums that are all killer, no filler. "The Mountain" gets my highest recommendations and is one of the finest releases of 2013 without a shadow of a doubt!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Oh my God ...what is this?

This might be my second experience getting hooked to a music at first listen and feel excited from start to end of the album. Not only that! I feel like my adrenalin runs three times faster than its usual speed. I could not believe it and I replayed, again the music from start with The Path that serves as a requiem to open the album, my feeling towards the album has even doubled in terms of degree of likeness ....oh my God .. This is really great to the bone maaannnnn!!! And when I said 'second experience' it relates to the first time when I heard Marillion 'Script for a Jester's Tear'. But this time with Haken "The Mountain" I feel different as the kind of music (the composition - to be exact!) is totally different. I feel like I never heard this kind of music before. So I am totally engaged with this wonderfully crafted album! Keep on proggin' ....!!!! Long live prog!

Well, it's too premature to say that the music presented here is original as I can see there are some influences (even though only a bit and not totally the same) from bands like Gentle Giat, especially in the choirs of some segments. But Haken is really inventive because they use different patterns so that the music sounds really fresh. Of course for those of you who have not heard at all about the music of this album, it's a bit taough to imagine especially through the words I put in this review. Put it this way.... Yes, it's the kind of heavy prog where you have that sorts of progressive metal riffs but at the same time you have the other kinds of vintage eclectic music that all and all are beautifully packaged into great soundscapes and wonderful sonic production at par excellent with any Steve Wilson's work. Just take an example of the second track that flows seamlessly from the opening requiem The Path through an ambient piano work. The music flows in a style that you can hardly find similar with other bands. But then suddenly you got changes in style where the music demonstrates some acrobatic patterns in staccato style. Oh mannnn .....!!! And not only that, there are some other breaks where the vocal sings differently backed with dynamic bass guitar work.

I think, musically Haken has reached its top creativity that I believe they would not stop right here and would embark on another creativity in their future releases, I think..... This "The Mountain" album is really mid boggling and adrenalin pondering kind of music as I cannot predict at all how the music is going to be as I spin the album. Just take a look on the third track with weird title "Cockroach King". I bet you will be laughing alone when you listen to the funny opening choirs that sond really greaaaaaat ....! "Tantalized by the cockroach and it's promise. I fantasised about soaring with golden wings. "Flying with gold wings"". And then suddenly the music turns o jazz with no compromise at all! Oh my God ... it's really creative and fabulous! This is the kind of music that I really love and I will promote this album to as many people as I can. I have already put this album on my personal blog and people start to make themselves curious about what I say. And ...yes ... you must also track track 6 "Falling Back To Earth". You will then definitely say: "This is it!". Yeah .. this is a true progressive music.

Overall: It's really GREAT album and of course it's a MASTERPIECE with well rounded five stars - no discount!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'The Mountain' - Haken (9/10)

I don't think there is a band in progressive rock today that has managed to impress me as consistently as Haken . From the release of 2010's stunning Aquarius onward, they have filled my ears with what I might describe as a progger's dream formula: rich, eccentric and boldly complex, yet melodic and ultimately heartfelt. Still, as enraptured as I was by the debut, Haken had left room for improvement. The narrative concept on Aquarius was hokey at best, the cheese factor was likely indigestible to the lactose intolerant, and the style took after Dream Theater a bit too much for the album to have earned top honours. In the few years since however, Haken have made audacious steps towards fulfilling their potential as the heroes of modern progressive rock. To anyone who was as disappointed by Dream Theater's latest affair as I was, I raise you Haken's The Mountain ; quite possibly the greatest statement in progressive metal yet released in 2013.

When I first heard Haken just over three years ago, I remember feeling a rush of excitement that signified I was witnessing the birth of something major. I was not alone either; Aquarius took the prog community by storm, and left listeners wanting more, with a handful of detractors loathing the album with equal intensity. It's not often a modern prog album divides and inspires audiences like Aquarius did, and that reception evidently lit an impetus for Haken to progress rapidly. Especially considering the industry standard of waiting years between the release of albums, it's a feat of its own for Haken to have unveiled a third album within three years of the first. The Mountain is indeed cut from the same proggy cloth as the debut and 2011's Visions , but this third effort is finally seeing Haken come unto their own stylistically. Considering how impressive the first two records were, this is a cause for excitement.

Even if Dream Theater hasn't been particularly consistent recently, they laid down a brilliant framework, the likes of which countless bands have tried to copy. Haken weren't as cookie-cutter as some of the clones out there, but there remained the impression that they were still lurking underneath the shadow of the tired gods of progressive metal. Not only is The Mountain darker in atmosphere and tone than its predecessors; Haken have also placed an emphasis on the weird and eccentric end of their style. Not only does their craft sound more focused here, they have also widened the range of their sound. Although they remain rooted in a framework of melodic progressive metal, Haken are so often over the map that the music never gets boring. For instance, "Atlas Stone's" uplifting atmosphere and epic scope give way to "The Cockroach King", an experimental piece that finds identity in its unsettling barbershop vocals and creepy whimsy. The epic "Falling Back to Earth" brings the progressive metal front and centre, before giving way to "As Death Embraces", an emotional zenith of the album that weaves soft piano and haunting vocals together beautifully. "Pareidolia" has everything from Middle-Eastern ambiance ( la Orphaned Land ) to blastbeats and groove-centred rhythms. At the very least, these examples should serve to convey what a rich variety of sound and style Haken is drawing upon.

Better still is how effectively The Mountain mixes this variety together. Granted, some of the choruses feel a little shoehorned within the context of the compositions, but Haken has taken some great steps towards smoothing out their proggy segues and detours. Although they're still weighted towards complex arrangement and strict composition over the merits of more conventional songwriting, there are plenty of hooks to stave the album from dryness. "Atlas Stone", "Pareidolia", and the gorgeous "Somebody" are all fine examples of how progressive rock can be made melodically sound and relevant. Haken's skill with melody is only amplified by the vocal talents of Ross Jennings, who owns a voice perfectly suited to the band's sound. Jennings' vocals are uncompromisingly melodic and graced with grace, but impressive above all else is that his delivery is distinctive and even unique. Progressive metal is filled with prodigy soundalikes, and it takes a distinctive voice like Jennings' to really impress me.

Even as their grasp of melody improves, Haken's best side still comes out in the form of their proggy instrumentals. The influence of bands like Dream Theater and King Crimson are undoubtedly evident, but Haken have finally claimed ownership of a sound unto their own with The Mountain. In terms of pure 'progginess', Haken are already two steps further ahead than Dream Theater ever dared to venture. The instrumental segment in "The Cockroach King" is wonderfully puzzling, and "Falling Back to Earth" features a salvo of off-timed riffs and oppressive textures worth consideration even by the most seasoned progsters. Although it's practically a requirement of the progressive metal label these days, Haken's virtuosic capability as musicians cannot be underrated, and unlike Dream Theater , Haken sound like they're still trying to push their own envelope.

As per usual, Haken's weakest link comes in the form of their lyrics. Keeping with the tradition imposed by the previous two albums, The Mountain takes shape as a conceptual piece. Unlike the first two however, it doesn't assume the form of a narrative, instead building itself around a vaguer theme of the human struggle for worth and meaning. It's a lofty concept to be sure, but the lyrics tend to feel as cheesy and heavy-handed as they have always been. "The Cockroach King" offers a welcome exception to this rule lyrically, with some sharp wordplay to bolster the Ross Jennings' eccentric a cappella. Others have written that The Mountain is a far more personal sort of concept album than what's usually seen progressive rock. While I'm still not feeling Haken's lyrics on a gut level, it's a marked improvement from the ridiculous fish-questing lyrics on Aquarius , and the decision to cut past the sci-fi/fantasy banter in exchange for something more sincere and mature has made for an excellent move on the band's part.

Having been a fan of this band since the debut, it's remarkably satisfying to hear Haken having come so far from their roots. Aquarius may have wowed me at the time, but with The Mountain, I'm truly sold on their sound. Solid arguments could be made for each of Haken's three albums as to which one is the 'best', but one thing is for sure: The Mountain brings to the table what the other two sorely missed; a sense of standalone identity. At this point, Haken are rivalled only by Norway's Leprous as the brightest stars of modern progressive metal. Haken haven't yet achieved progressive metal perfection with The Mountain, but their dedication to constant self-improvement and exploration means it can't be far away.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars 2013 has turned ot to be an excellent year for prog rock. We've had some outstanding releases from Spock's Beard, Dream Theater and Steven Wilson, just to name a few. And right there with them is this album from Haken.

Musically, Haken uses quite a bit of metal motifs, without falling into the traps of excessive repetition and overbearing headbanging. They also add a healthy dose of nods to classic prog bands, most notably Gentle Giant on this album. Particularly, Cockroach King is an example of this. Ross Jennings channels the spirit of Phil Schulman (who apparently doesn't use it much anymore), and creates a dense array of rhythmic and tonal complexity in his vocals. The rest of the band matches this, and even adds the light fusion touches that GG often used. This is my choice as the best track of the year from any artist.

The two songs bookending Cockroach are nearly as good. Atlas Stone and In Memoriam are modern prog as it should be done, with twists and turns galore, and again, more than a bit of fusion added in.

My only complaint about the album are the light spots, where Jennings sounds too close to the breathy, weak sound of Radiohead's Thom Yorke. But really, thats a very mild complaint.

My copy has the bonus tracks, The Path Unbeaten and Nobody. The former is a stripped down version of the light opening track, and the latter sound like a single edit of Somebody, which becomes tedious without the break section.

Without the bonus tracks I rate this 4.5, which I can safely round up. It's that good.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Haken. This band is quite unique in many ways. I must confess that I wasn't aware of the band's existence till the moment they released this new album, The Mountain (2013). But they've been together for some time and it seems that all their albums are great experiences. I did check Aquarius (2010) on Spotify and it really is something else.

I was holding my intention on posting anything about their new album because of the high amount of reviews praising the album as a new masterpiece, so I wanted to give the guys a good listening before write anything.

Review Haken's music is quite hard, their music is very complex and it brings a little bit of everything. But this little bit of everything turned out to be the bit of everything I really like!

The Gentle Giant vocals thing, the longer pieces, the use of several different instruments, the goal in writing complex music but yet full of catchy moments, the heavy moments without going full Prog Metal bull[&*!#]' Really, this is one of the great albums this year and probably of many years to come.

This makes The Mountain (2013) climb high in my top2013 and make most of the albums that were considered great this year as common Prog.

'Cockroach King', 'Falling Back To Earth' and 'Pareidolia' are by far my favorites.

What can I say? Highly recommended? Yes! It is!

Review by richardh
2 stars I felt obliged to get after the shower of 5 star ratings and people saying its one of the best albums ever. I've probably had my fill of heavy prog though. Anathema are a band I love and at times Haken try to imitate that particular band, but without the style , emotion and sheer joy. Of course Anathema have been around for 20 years and been developing their art and that is where this album falls badly short imo. They have no art at such and in a vein that is becomingly depressingly familiar just trudge out a load of cliches wandering between King Crimson and Gentle Giant like a drunken sailor trying to find his ship after a night out on the town. Undoubtedly talented musicians but whatever happened to having original ideas instead of borrowing from others? In truth the albums released this year by Riverside , Spocks Beard and the imperious Steven Wilson knock this into touch because they know where their boundaries are and what they are about.To sum up its well played but souless prog from a band that needs to go back to the drawing board and find their own voice.
Review by FragileKings
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 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.
Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars The Mountain is top-tier art rock that shimmers with complexity, intensity, thoughtfulness, and a heavy metal crunch. I shied away from Haken's early releases (not caring for the vocalist from what I heard on samples), but am very glad I was swayed by the avalanche of praise here on ProgArchives. Is The Mountain a masterpiece? It's pretty darn close, and even though I'm giving it "only" 4 stars, it is a highly recommended and fulfilling experience.

We open in typical prog rock fashion with the overture to the album that introduces the premise of ascension through the human experience (via the mountain metaphor), and emotive vocal work by Jennings. It has sort of a candle in the dark feel that sets the stage for the grandiose "Atlas Stone" that follows. This is a great track that features the band's signature of complex writing that features punctuation of intensity with mellow moments scattered throughout. It's nothing especially new for fans of this kind of music, but Haken performs it exceptionally well, with very tight playing that sounds crisp and focused. Jennings lyrics and vocals are melodic and optimistic; this is a feel good track that doesn't disappoint.

"Cockroach King" is a quirky follow-up that features massive, crunching guitar riffs juxtaposed to bouncy vocals that echo Gentle Giant or early Spock's Beard. The band outs a ton of sound, and isn't afraid to kick your teeth in even in a playful song.

"In Memoriam" has the rhythm section creating a scintillating tension that cooks beneath complex riffing by guitarist Griffiths and (I assume) Henshall. "Because It's There" reprises the overture to the album, set to overlapping choral work that gives way to sweeping melodies. This brings up one of my criticisms to The Mountain: this track is clearly meant to be an emotional touch-stone of the album, but it sort of falls flat. Jenning's vocals are in a high register and don't always connect, even though the lyrics are engaging. Its sort of a quibble, but I noticed it enough for it to draw me out of the piece.

"Falling Back to Earth" is probably the highlight of the album. It's a centerpiece that uses Icarian metaphors to transition the album into a darker place intellectually. The song does a great job creating dramatic tension, with driving melodies and guitar/keyboard interplay that shifts into a etheric plucking and atmospheres at the half-way point. A great showcase of the band's song writing. This is kept up in the also excellent "Pareidolia." Things get more abstract the deeper we go.

The closing song is unfortunately not as strong as the preceding songs. It's set up well but doesn't feel like it wraps up the musical ideas it creates, just sort of ending on an unsatisfying fade out.

So all in all a great album. The Mountain is highly energetic, has powerful dynamics, impeccable instrumental delivery, and good (but not great) vocals. The lack of emotional connection for me is the only detractor in what is otherwise a first rate art rock experience. Highly recommended!

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

Review by The Crow
4 stars Haken are one of the most interesting prog bands born in the past decade, along with other acts like Riverside or Leprous!

What they make is a mixture between very heavy passages, some jazz melodies and beautiful vocal melodies in the vein of Gentle Giant. They mix the power of early Opeth, the dramatism of Riverside and the technique of Dream Theater to craft a proper sound, very compelling and catchy.

The album has its flaws and a pair of fillers (In Memorian is clearly under the rest, As Death Embraces is an insipid mid-tempo...) but the quality of the other tracks is so high that I can clearly say that The Mountain is still one of the most inspired heavy-prog releases of this decade.

Nevertheless, I must say that I'm not really convicted about the vocals of Ross Jennings. He sings not bad, but he clearly does not have a beautiful voice. The falsetto is ok, but when he tries to reach higher natural tones, he sounds a bit unpleasant for my ears. And in other tracks like The Path, I think he is not completely toned.

But I can live with that, because his is good enough to no spoil the incredible work of the rest of the members of the band.

Best Tracks: Atlas Stone, Cockroach King, Falling Back to Earth, Pareidolia.

Conclusion: if you like heavy, intense and very powerful prog-rock Haken is just for you! If you can forgive the weak vocals and some tracks that are clearly under the rest, you will find a very well made and catchy album in The Mountain.

I'm eager to hear more records of this band! And I'm sure that seeing them live is also a remarkable experience.

My rating: ****

Latest members reviews

4 stars (NOTE: Excluding the two bonus tracks of the reissue for this review.) Few albums start in a way that suspends you, readying you for a compositional left-turn into heavy territory that juxtaposes a soft beginning. The Mountain, an effort from the modern prog-rock band Haken, does this beautiful ... (read more)

Report this review (#2695044) | Posted by Semibreve | Wednesday, February 23, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars - Review #2 - Terrific work. Very easily the best album by this British band that emerged out of nowhere. In this album, Haken combines the technicality and dynamism of Dream Theater with the bizarre vocal work of Gentle Giant, along with slight jazz influences and a very good use of melody. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2538631) | Posted by King Brimstone | Wednesday, April 28, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Haken's The Mountain is a pretty average progressive metal album. Nothing really shocking to be honest, although it's still enjoyable and musicality is excellent. Featuring tracks from two minutes to eleven, it's a very mixed bag of progressive metal elements and a few jazz aspects here and there ... (read more)

Report this review (#2508725) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Considered by many as the pinnacle of Haken's craftmanship, third album continues on the steeping curve of improved performance and composition - and reaching the top of the "mountain". The first mellow track prepares the listener for more challenging music. Vocal harmonies stand out here. "Atl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2153424) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, March 8, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I will admit that this band took a while to grow on me, but once it did, the greatness just poured out from my speakers. The Mountain, in particular, stands out as being especially terrific, thanks to the thematic nature of the lyrics, the flow of the record, and, of course, the great songwriti ... (read more)

Report this review (#1819299) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Saturday, November 4, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is more a review of Haken's live show, but there is a lot about the music of "The Mountain" as well. Hopefully die-hard fans and novices alike will enjoy reading it. SKT Haken at Reggies Rock Club in Chicago, IL 4/26/15 "HO-LY SHIT!!! HO-LY SHIT!!!" Such was the refrain a couple of ... (read more)

Report this review (#1458700) | Posted by ScottTisdel | Wednesday, September 2, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow. As a dedicated Gentle Giant fan (since 1970s) I had never heard of Haken until a few weeks ago when my son told me he'd seen their name crop up over and again when viewing GG on YouTube. So found them and listened. Wow. The Mountain is now right up in my top 10 albums. (And no, I have avoi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1450865) | Posted by flamenco | Sunday, August 9, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I sat stunned when I finished listening for the third time this CD in a couple of days. So much harmony, so much clever ideas, so much perfect music blasting thru my earphones. This is my first experience with this group and surely will not be my last because the have the vocal harmonies from ... (read more)

Report this review (#1328490) | Posted by steelyhead | Wednesday, December 24, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1300431) | Posted by Fearabsentia | Wednesday, November 5, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1159192) | Posted by frogeater | Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1154361) | Posted by ergaster | Thursday, March 27, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars So here it is, the album of the decade. At least this is what pops up if you go to the "PA Top Albums" section, choose the past ten years (2003-2013) over all genres and press the search button. That happens from time to time, if an album is new and has a few ratings, but this one here already appro ... (read more)

Report this review (#1083507) | Posted by Mexx | Saturday, November 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars With their third album, Haken has taken a Gentle Giant pill to add a further sense of quirky eclecticism to their sound. Unfortunately, the end result is a less impactful album than their masterpiece, Visions. Haken doesn't pull their stab at transcendence on this installment, but it ultimately fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#1081667) | Posted by Earendil | Monday, November 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars While the members of this band are clearly and undoubtedly a talented bunch, I don't quite understand the gushing of praise heaped upon this album. I have previously heard the debut, but not the follow-up ('Visions'), and indeed there are improvements in some areas from that album- as others have no ... (read more)

Report this review (#1078835) | Posted by Kazza3 | Monday, November 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Guys, I heard a perfect album... I heard a perfect album. I heard an album that somehow manages to throw literally everything at you without becoming overbearing. I heard an album with musicianship of the absolute highest quality that actually rivals the chops of other past masters, and match ... (read more)

Report this review (#1076140) | Posted by Neo-Romantic | Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I will be honest, I think Haken is one of those bands that have peaked early; their previous album, Visions, is their definitive masterpiece, and I do not believe anything they do will top it. With that said, The Mountain is a worthy successor, and with it brings a familiar, but changed sound. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1059473) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Monday, October 14, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The English sextet are one of the best up-and-coming prog rock acts in the world, combining classic prog sounds with modern heavy prog influences, and wrapping it all up in an ambitious package. Their debut album in 2010 Aquarius was hailed as an instant classic and its follow-up the next year ... (read more)

Report this review (#1057950) | Posted by Orsaeth | Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well it's only taken 2 years and over 30 listens to review this album, so here it goes! As with most of the heavier modern progressive bands, I never really got into Haken. "Aquarius" and "Visions" weren't particularly exciting to me, so "The Mountain" has broken down a lot of barriers. Although ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054916) | Posted by Xonty | Sunday, October 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Ross Jennings is the singer James LaBrie wants to be. Actually, this band plays wanky melodic vanilla prog metal (I'm being redundant, I guess) better than Dream Theater, even though DT were the ones who created that kinda thing. There are some memorable moments here, like the super cheesy but ... (read more)

Report this review (#1051471) | Posted by The Neck Romancer | Wednesday, October 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The good news is that Haken continues to expand its already impressive sound palette. A capella vocals, weird vocals, weird keyboards, church music, jazzy interludes, post rock, oriental music, you name it, and, of course, its foundation in Dreamtheater- esque bombastic metal. So the question is ... (read more)

Report this review (#1047814) | Posted by Progrussia | Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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