HAKEN
Progressive Metal • United Kingdom

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Haken is a progressive rock/metal band from London, United Kingdom that first formed in 2007. Haken started as the project of three school friends, Richard 'Hen' Henshall (guitars, keyboards), Ross Jennings (vocals) and Matt Marshall (guitars). They were then joined by Peter Jones (keyboards) and Raymond Hearne (drums). The final member to join was Tom MacLean (bass), also of the band To-Mera whom Richard Henshall also later joined. This line-up produced the band's earliest demo recordings; two songs in 2007 and four in 2008.

Following the demo's Matt Marshall and Peter Jones decided to leave Haken to pursue other interests and were replaced by Charles Griffiths, who has also played with the band Linear Sphere, and Diego Tejeida respectively. This new line-up of the band then recorded and released the debut full-length album Aquarius in 2010 via Sensory Records. The album received wide acclaim from both metal and progressive music sources.
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AffinityAffinity
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$11.36
$8.49 (used)
The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$10.66
$8.48 (used)
VisionsVisions
Sensory Records 2011
Audio CD$28.06
$30.57 (used)
Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$4.62
$8.80 (used)
AquariusAquarius
Sensory Records 2010
Audio CD$79.95 (used)
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HAKEN Discography

HAKEN albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.62 | 62 ratings
Aquarius
Progressive Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 3.98 | 51 ratings
Visions
Progressive Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.22 | 40 ratings
The Mountain
Progressive Metal 2013
.. Album Cover 3.94 | 10 ratings
Affinity
Progressive Metal 2016

HAKEN EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.99 | 6 ratings
Restoration
Progressive Metal 2014

HAKEN live albums

HAKEN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 4.34 | 8 ratings
Enter the 5th Dimension
Progressive Metal 2008

HAKEN re-issues & compilations

HAKEN singles (0)

HAKEN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

HAKEN Reviews

HAKEN Affinity

Album · 2016 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
UK act Haken surely must be considered one of the leading lights of the modern progressive metal scene thanks to the impact they have made as early as their debut full-length album Aquarius (2010). Going strong ever since with the subsequent releases of Visions (2011), The Mountain (2013) and the EP Restoration (2014), which featured re-workings of some of their early demo songs, they've certainly attracted their share of followers (any inevitably a few detractors too). Fourth album Affinity (2016) sees them returning after the longest gap between full-length studio releases and is the first of their albums to feature new bassist Conner Green, who made his first appearance on Restoration. The album is not a concept album but does revolve around a few recurring themes dealing with humanity's relationship with ever-advancing technology.

While some of Haken's work has always worn its influences on its sleeves, one of the band's biggest attractions is that every one of them albums has a different feel to it and Affinity is no exception to this. I believe that the band were more influenced by eighties music in its creation compared to The Mountain where they seemed to be looking more towards the seventies. There are some elements of the music though that strike me as having much more in common with modern progressive metal trends, particularly in the track 1985. Overall Affinity bears a sound that still contains a blend of progressive metal and progressive rock, but it relies much more on the heavy riffs of the former than usual for Haken. It's perhaps their most metal dominated record to date, though there are always softer sections thrown in to break it all up, of varying length. It's the complex metal guitar work of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall that they return to the most often though and that's just how I like it. Another notable feature of the music is how driven in its by Diego Tejeida's synths, which make affinity a lot more symphonic sounding album than The Mountain, though this certainly isn't the only context the synths are used in. There are proggy and electronic sounding bits too.

The gem of the album has to be its centrepiece, the over fifteen minute The Architect, which sees some guest harsh vocals included from Einar Solberg of Leprous. Another key track is 1985, also a longer one at about nine minutes. It's clear from these two that Haken's strengths lie in the prog epic, but the shorter compositions certainly aren't slouches either, especially The Endless Knot deserves to be counted among Affinity's best cuts. Not every track is an instantly attention grabbing with some such as the closing and much more progressive rock based Bound By Gravity required some time to open up. Fortunately Affinity proves to me the kind of album that gives up more secrets with each listen. And overall it's the kind of strong album that I've come to expect from Haken. I do, to be completely honest here, think that in the context of their four albums think that Affinity ranks fourth though, but it's still one of the best progressive metal albums I've heard from 2016, which has been a year where the genre has seemed rather sparse on the excellent albums and has also delivered one very notable disappointment from a classic band. Of course if there was one band out there that could be relied on, it was going to be Haken. Nice one guys.

HAKEN Restoration

EP · 2014 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Unitron
Haken-Restoration

'Restoration' is Haken's re-recordings of three songs from their 2008 demo 'Enter the Fifth Dimension'. I find this interesting though, this new EP actually shows them heavier and less apt to copy other bands. There is still definitely a Dream Theater influence, but it's not as prominent and comes up at better times. Unfortunately, it still shows them copy Gentle Giant at the end, but they're getting there as far as 'being their own band' goes.

It begins with a very strong opener 'Darkest Light', where Ross Jennings's vocals are very strong. The keyboards fit surprisingly well with the crunching guitar, and this is a much heavier song then anything that was on 'The Mountain'. If you have a good ear for bass like I do, I'm sure you'll also be able to hear the great bass work given by Conner Green. The next song 'Earthlings' is a softer melancholy track. Unlike the soft songs on 'The Mountain', however, this song isn't a ballad and is actually more akin to a melancholy Porcupine Tree song such as 'Heartattack in a Layby'. This isn't a copy though, this is a unique song. It's nice how they started out with the heavy 'Darkest Light', then went to 'Earthlings', it shows that they are powerful in both styles.

The final song is the suite 'Crystallised'. It's unfortunate that this is a song that has almost everything about Haken that originally annoyed me. This sounds more like an outtake from the previous album then something that would fit well on this EP. At least the Dream Theater-sound alike is understandable, seeing as Mike Portnoy plays the drums on this track. The song is okay until about halfway through when the Gentle Giant-copying comes back. So I find the second half of this song boring and having the same problems as 'The Mountain'.

Overall, if you're like me and was annoyed by Haken's copying of bands you should certainly check this EP out. I'm glad I gave it a try, and I hope they take the styles of the first two tracks and continue with that for whenever they release a new album. I'll be curious to see what a new album by them will bring.

Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!

HAKEN The Mountain

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
AtomicCrimsonRush
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!

HAKEN The Mountain

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
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.

HAKEN The Mountain

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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Earendil
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 falls short of its goal. The trademark Haken use of wildly eclectic genres is still present; everything from video game noises to blast beats crop up on The Mountain, but the actual song-writing and album structure prevent them from reaching the summit that they are after. Sometimes, it feels like the band is trying to do too much and fails to adequately develop their ideas. Even though there's effective repetition of musical themes throughout the album, they never seem to build on each other in a meaningful way. The concept behind the album is moving on a human level, and there are some moments of isolated brilliance on The Mountain, but as an album it doesn't quite reach its mark.

When reviewing The Mountain, I may have sounded more critical than I would for another band, but with all the praise this album has gotten and with Haken's previous release as a comparison, I don't think The Mountain travels as high as it intends. That being said, it's still an excellent album from one of the best modern progressive rock bands, and it's definitely worth picking up after listening to Visions.

Rating: 7/10

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