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Haken Virus album cover
3.59 | 310 ratings | 15 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1*. Prosthetic (5:58)
2. Invasion (6:42)
3. Carousel (10:29)
4. The Strain (5:23)
5. Canary Yellow (4:14)
6. Messiah Complex I: Ivory Tower (3:57)
7. Messiah Complex II: A Glutton for Punishment (3:38)
8. Messiah Complex III: Marigold (2:24)
9. Messiah Complex IV: The Sect (2:02)
10. Messiah Complex V: Ectobius Rex (4:57)
11. Only Stars (2:10)

Total Time 51:54

* - "Prosthetic" song is a bridge between the two albums, "Vector" and "Virus"

Line-up / Musicians

- Ross Jennings / vocals
- Charlie Griffiths / guitars
- Richard Henshall / guitars
- Diego Tejeida / keyboards
- Conner Green / bass
- Raymond Hearne / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Blacklake

Label: The Orchard Music, SME (on behalf of InsideOutMusic)
Format: 2LP/CD, Limited 2CD, CD, Digital
July 10, 2020

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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HAKEN Virus ratings distribution

(310 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

HAKEN Virus reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
4 stars Is the new album of Haken is an indication of a new direction of the band with his title that reflects the new reality in our world? The previous ''Vector'' album was supposed to be a double album, but they knew they were going to write another album which is ''Virus''. They had the title 2 years ago, so it's just bad timing.I couldn't recognize the band with the first song ''Prosthetic''. This sounds more like an extreme metal or even a new metal band with this big and fast pace metal more in the vein of Fear Factory. We can feel the urgency in the music with a dark atmosphere and that fast pace style. The second song brings back the usual Haken style with this djent influence and the way Ross Jennings plays a sort of instrument with his voice, Leprous style. The band keep his Dream Theater complex style of metal with many tempo changes, some lighter breaks that bring the calm after the storm.

Despite his heaviness, this is still melodic and more eclectic than anything previous this one. This is coming at the right time bringing more excitement for the fans.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Having released its first album "Aquarius" only a decade ago, HAKEN has since become one of prog metal's most celebrated and anticipated acts with a series of albums and EPs that show a band that loves to change things up on every release without losing the core idiosyncrasies that makes this English band stand out from the prog metal pack. Despite the stylistic shifts from album to album one can easily distinguish the first three albums more focused on the progressive rock side of the equation from the latest three which crank out a more bombastic metal heft often at the expense of falling into the traps of mediocrity which was particularly so on the band's last album "Vector." It seemed as if HAKEN was fresh out of ideas and innovation and was resorting to a paint-by-numbers techniques of songwriting but with the band's sixth album VIRUS, the inspiration seems to have returned and although i wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to check out a new HAKEN album, i have been pleasantly surprised that this is a well-thought out intricately designed expression of prog metal in the modern era.

Although its merely happenstance that the title VIRUS was picked for an album that came out in the year that is all about microscopic pathogens, the title refers more to mental psychopathies rather than the physical varieties. This album that clocks in just shy of the 52 minute mark encapsulates themes that arise in the form of institutional abuse as well as physical and metal abusive relationships, anxiety, depression as well as suicide. Musically the album merges both aspects of the band's well known sounds. While rooted in the heavy djent-ish guitar riffs of the later albums, HAKEN has returned to its atmospheric roots by adding emotive counterpoints meticulously engineered and mixed by ex-Periphery bassist Adam "Nolly" Getgood. The result of this grab bag of HAKEN-isms is a stellar well-balanced album that celebrates a decade of prog metal ingenuity cleverly truncated into a single album's listening experience.

The album starts off with the lead single "Prosthetic" which was the first track crafted by the band and which sets the tone for the entire album's feel. The track immediately blends the eerie atmospheres with heavy guitar stomping bombast steeped in staccato palm muting action and accompanied by technically infused energetic drum workouts. At this stage in the band's career i would say they sound more like where Leprous should've been heading had they not abandoned their metal origins altogether and steered into sleepy time prog. The album continues with twelve tracks that blend the subtle melodic counterpoints of vocals, guitar and bass with the soaring keyboard accoutrements and jazzy drum workouts. The twin guitar attacks are tastefully reserved with dueling riffs and occasional soloing as extended pastiches of the emotive lyrical directions. The brashness of the slightly atonal djent guitar orotundity during the heavier parts in conjunct with Ross Jennings fragile and expressive vocal parts offer a beautiful contrast that works on all levels.

The highlight of the album has to be the five part "Messiah Complex" which is a tale of the ascent to power, tyranny and subsequent endgame beautifully brought to life by a series of musical motifs and musical gymnastics not heard from HAKEN since "The Mountain" such as the beautiful vocal harmonies heard on "Marigold." Despite the multi-suite magnitude of these tracks the individual parts are actually quite succinct with most just over two minutes and the grand finale "Ectobius Rex" just missing the five. Some of the most daring prog metal gymnastics occur in these final moments when wrestlers guitars riff up a storm with jittery time signature ambushes and Gentle Giant inspired vocal games emerge unexpectedly in "The Sect" along with angelic atmospheric backdrops and groovy rhythms, sizzling little solos and even a few video game noises. After a climactic finale of the "Messiah Complex" suite, the album tenderly drifts off into the spacey closer "Only Stars" which drops the metal altogether and offers a little dream pop ambience.

While HAKEN started out with a series of strong albums that crafted an intricate display of metal and prog in a powerful combo effect, on "Affinity" the band started to get cold feet and retreated from the more ambitious mingling of styles that got them noticed in the first place. While "Vector" was a step up at least in terms of quality of the composiitons, the band was still suffering from sounding generic and failed to stand out from millions of similar sounding bands. Happy to say that on VIRUS these guys have struck gold again by taking the heaviness of the last two albums and bringing back the diverse elements that made the first three albums so unique. Add a little emphasis on staccato driven grooves and an incessantly eerie atmospheric presence accompanied by strong melodic vocal performances and i can only conclude that HAKEN has made a triumphant return to form. While HAKEN will never rank high as one of my favorite bands of all time, i do enjoy their unique stylistic approach that they have made all their own even if influences are sometimes a bit too close for comfort. VIRUS doesn't miss a beat and offers an album's worth of updated HAKEN tunes to allow you to forget about the wild roller coast ride that is 2020, at least for nearly an hour's length.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars They're back! And they're still doing that djenty-metal thing that they've been doing for the past ten years.

1. Prosthetic (5:58) full-on djent-metal! I actualy love the distortion effect on Ross's voice--and the opening vocal section. After that it turns into an aggressive KARNIVOOL song. Not bad. (8.5/10)

2. "Invasion" (6:42) cool start before it descends into usual acrid metal. (These plastic-sounding drums are so annoying.) The vocal reminds me of KARNIVOOL's Ian Kenny. In fact, the whole song reminds me of KARNIVOOL. (8.75/10)

3. "Carousel" (10:29) what?! Britain's Got Talent?! Tears for Fears? 0:30: Oh, good. This is Haken. (Though I still hear so much of KARNIVOOL. And maybe a little of the older LEPROUS.) The chorus at 5:00 is outright lame. The sparse slowdown section in the eighth minute is spoiled by that childish Hallowe'en bass line. Too bad cuz there's some other good stuff going on here (voice, keys, guitar, drums). (17/20)

4. "The Strain" (5:23) a horrible vocal (partly due to the effect chosen) opens this one before it turns nice-LEPROUS. Ross's voice sounds worn and old here, the chorus like KARNIVOOL's "Whipping Boy." The spacious, slowdown section in this song is better, more atmospheric--and the high octave vocal very nice. (8.75/10)

5. "Canary Yellow" (4:14) the gentler, more sedate side of KARNIVOOL. Wish it was better--more compelling. (8.5/10)

6. "Messiah Complex I: Ivory Tower" (3:57) psych guitar?! Weird! Not a bad song--until 2:15. That guitar riff is horrid--ruins it! (8.25/10) 7. "Messiah Complex II: A Glutton for Punishment" (3:38) continues the drumming here is so off-putting! Then they try to put LEPROUS and QUEEN vocals over the top! No! (7.75/10) 8. "Messiah Complex III: Marigold" (2:24) the music takes a complete turn here, into soft Neo Prog with some respectable drum play beneath the choral voices. But they couldn't let it go--had to burst into the militaristic heavy metal music. I'm not sure I can take these plastic drums any more. I'm going to have to go listen to some nice 1970s psychedelia just to get over the trauma! (4/5) 9. "Messiah Complex IV: The Sect" (2:02) something cool about all the stop-and-go epithets being spouted out here. (4.5/5) 10. "Messiah Complex V: Ectobius Rex (4:57) great start to the finale turns to DEVY TOWNSEND. They do a fairly good job of it, too! Doesn't save the epic suite, but gives me a shred of lingering hope. (9/10)

11. "Only Stars" (2:10) are they trying to elevate Ross into the realms of Einar Solberg or That Joe Payne? (4.5/5)

Total Time 51:54

This year's model shows a continued addiction to loud, violent forms of human expression. And it's so like several other contemporary djenty metal bands. I guess I've been waiting for their album of chamber music.

B/four stars; an album that you might like--especially if you're into the TOOL-DEVIN TOWNSEND school of heavy metal prog.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
3 stars A really good progressive metal album! I must say that at this point nothing less is expected from Haken - the 'relatively' young London outfit that started well in 2007, has released a bunch of milestone, in my opinion, hard-hitting heavy prog albums since then.

'Virus' was presented as the continuation of their 2018 release 'Vector' - both lyrically and musically, even the covers are also purposely identical. And in reality the sound of their new album is not too far away from what we got on 'Vector', maybe even a bit heavier, which is the direction they have been re-orienting themselves into since the middle of the last decade, most likely influenced by the rising popularity of the so-called 'djent' (which is ideally a sub-genre of progressive metal that became notorious for its distorted, palm-muted, and low-pitch guitar sound). So, the grandiosity and lavishness of their first three albums is almost gone, in favor of a heavier sound, more guitar-centered sound.

The album is well produced, and even better written. There are several interesting moments but overall this is far from the quality of their first albums, if you ask me. This album is in a way replicating the trends in the genre from that period which I am not so much in favor of. The initial impressive idea that the album gave me has faded away slightly, giving place to a feeling that this is just another really good prog metal album.

The opening track 'Prosthetic' is one of the heaviest songs by Haken ever, also serving as a bridge between this album and 'Vector'. The Devin Townsend influence can be felt here, as they toured together not too long ago.

'Invasion' is a guitar-oriented song with multiple keyboard effects and an interesting vocal performance by Jennings.

'Carousel' is undoubtedly the best song on 'Virus' - it is heavy, complex, with all the quirky twists and turns performed gracefully by the band, very memorable and interesting addition to Haken's repertoire.

'The Strain' is almost a 'power pop metal' track if this makes any sense. Very fast-paced, with a catchy chorus but not too much adventure, this is my only problem with it.

'Canary Yellow' is a bit more lyrical, and atmospheric, not a bad track but not among my favorites.

'Messiah Complex' is for me the watershed track here - As much as I understand the reasons for which they split it into five pieces rather than one 17-minute killer song, I really believe they took a bit of the [possible] magic of it. The song itself - I find it too sharded and swerving into so many different places that in the very end it does not make too much sense. Just as an example from the band itself, 'The Architect' from 'Affinity' is a much more coherent 15-minute metal epic.

'Only Stars' is a decent album closer.

'Virus' is a great addition to Haken's catalogue, the album is very turbulent and technical, chiseled on the edges, and still containing colorful song ideas. However, it is a bit less special in terms of the aftertaste that albums like 'Aquarius' or 'The Mountain' give. I wonder if they will go on with this direction of guitar-oriented heavy prog, or they will look back and embrace again the more cinematic and dramatic early prog sound, or even better - reinvent themselves and show that they really carry the progressive spirit.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Haken have proven themselves to be one of the most consistent acts in all of progressive metal. Even their worst album is only spotty. Virus shares a lot in common with its predecessor, Vector, with the two having been recorded in quick succession. Everything here is meticulously crafted, highly dyn ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904265) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars - Review #22 - So, Vector and Virus are one album. They both feature the same characteristics, the same story, even a similar minimalistic album cover. I also think it deserves the same three star rating as Vector, even though I think it's better than Vector. Virus features the same amount of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2546145) | Posted by King Brimstone | Thursday, May 27, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Virus is more or less the same album as Vector, which makes sense since they're both technically one album. That's why I'm giving it the same rating as Vector, because they both have the same quality. Basically it's Djentesque progressive metal. Djent has been growing in popularity, that doesn't ... (read more)

Report this review (#2526554) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Friday, March 19, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2477559) | Posted by Corcoranw687 | Thursday, November 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 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 bombast ... (read more)

Report this review (#2453769) | Posted by FatherChristmas | Sunday, October 4, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2451377) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Sunday, September 27, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Haken formed in 2007 in London England. They had their critical breakthrough in 2013 with The Mountain, which was pretty much met with critical acclaim everywhere. A little side note i do have to mention is the title of this album has nothing to do with the current covid 19 outbreak. The ba ... (read more)

Report this review (#2448523) | Posted by thesimilitudeofprog | Thursday, September 17, 2020 | Review Permanlink

2 stars On Haken's previous effort, 2018's Vektor, the band embraced a heavier chock-full-of metal riffs approach. While I found the album enjoyable all around, I had hopes that the sound on that record was more of a detour and not a full-fledged pivot. You see, although perfectly competent as metal com ... (read more)

Report this review (#2441908) | Posted by ssmarcus | Thursday, August 27, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars VIrus is Haken's best album yet. The six Englishmen have always been a bit of a hit-and-miss for me. Of course, I always appreciated their incredible technical chops and that hunger for pushing the envelope that led them to incorporate so many influences and styles into their music to the point of n ... (read more)

Report this review (#2440364) | Posted by lukretio | Saturday, August 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Haken continue to explore the territory of their most popular song with a quick successor to 2018's Vector. The music remains similar to what can be heard on the red one: lots of heavy technical riffing adulterated with melodic vocals and different kinds of stuff one might classify as prog elements. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2432563) | Posted by Homotopy | Monday, July 27, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I will avoid using the typical talking-points as they have been mentioned so many times such as the fact that "Virus" is the second part of a story that begins with "Vector" and ends with their song "Cockroach King". Long story short, "Virus" is not the melodic playground of the past that we hea ... (read more)

Report this review (#2432492) | Posted by xavier.petrick | Sunday, July 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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