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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VectorVector
Inside Out Music 2018
$13.98
L-1VEL-1VE
Century Media 2018
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The MountainThe Mountain
Inside Out Music 2013
$8.48
$8.47 (used)
Aquarius (Re-issue 2017)Aquarius (Re-issue 2017)
Inside Out Music 2017
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Visions (Re-issue 2017)Visions (Re-issue 2017)
Inside Out Music 2017
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AffinityAffinity
Insideout Music 2016
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Restoration EpRestoration Ep
Century Media 2015
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VisionsVisions
THE LASER'S EDGE 2017
$34.12
$8.25 (used)
AquariusAquarius
THE LASER'S EDGE 2017
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VIVALDI / ALBINONI / CORELLI / TORELLI - Trumpet Concertos - Haken HARDENBERGER VIVALDI / ALBINONI / CORELLI / TORELLI - Trumpet Concertos - Haken HARDENBERGER USD $16.21 (0 bids)
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HAKEN Discography

HAKEN albums / top albums

HAKEN Aquarius album cover 3.86 | 66 ratings
Aquarius
Progressive Metal 2010
HAKEN Visions album cover 4.25 | 56 ratings
Visions
Progressive Metal 2011
HAKEN The Mountain album cover 4.54 | 46 ratings
The Mountain
Progressive Metal 2013
HAKEN Affinity album cover 4.41 | 14 ratings
Affinity
Progressive Metal 2016
HAKEN Vector album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Vector
Progressive Metal 2018

HAKEN EPs & splits

HAKEN Restoration album cover 3.79 | 8 ratings
Restoration
Progressive Metal 2014

HAKEN live albums

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

HAKEN Enter the 5th Dimension album cover 4.44 | 8 ratings
Enter the 5th Dimension
Progressive Metal 2008

HAKEN re-issues & compilations

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HAKEN Reviews

HAKEN Aquarius

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
First things first. The name of this band, HAKEN, rhymes with bacon. NOT with shockin’ or backin.’ My mistake for years has lied with the first variant of mispronunciation. These days we read about many bands but rarely share some of them out loud with persons in our daily conversation. And now to our regularly scheduled review of this London based progressive rock / metal band that took the world by storm in 2010 with their outrageously mature for their new kids on the block debut AQUARIUS. While it may seem like a title that would behoof contemporary worshippers of 60s R&B bands like The Fifth Dimension, which only rings more true if their promo titled “Enter The 5th Dimension” is taken into consideration, nothing could be further from the truth as HAKEN is the complete opposite within the realms of modern day progressive rock with a few metallic moments thrown in to capture the liberal progressive metal crowds, hence the band more often than not appearing on metal sites with the tag progressive metal attached because when the metal is unleashed, it is every bit as intense as any progressive metal madness out there.

However, despite the metal leanings, HAKEN spend a majority of their time focusing on non-metal motifs and considering that AQUARIUS was written first and foremost on the piano and was only then adapted by the chief composer/ guitarist and keyboardist Richard Henshall into a larger paradigm of progressive rock shapeshifting genre jumping eclectic madness, it still somehow finds its way into the metal world to some’s chagrin and other’s boon. In the first decade of the 21st century there has been a gradual cross-pollination of different genre styles within the progressive rock world. The neo-prog section in the progressive rock market for example has been incrementally adding more metallic elements to their hook-laden style which too is primarily composed for keyboards and then allowing the rest of the musical experience to gestate around. Likewise HAKEN took a similar approach and having a similar amount of keyboard plus high pitched vocals as the main sonic frame, simply took all the extra liberties of creating a more dynamic and adventurous take on what bands like Arena, Pallas and Galahad had been working up to.

AQUARIUS is first and foremost a concept album about a mermaid who was discovered by a fisherman who then sells this fish-tailed damsel to a circus. This album has been divisive in many sects of both the prog and metal communities with the Disney-esque thematic approach surely being the point of contention numero uno in which those who can’t stand this album consistently reproach. As the story unfolds it is revealed that this mermaid’s blood is the sole substance that can save the entire human race from impending doom and gloom in the form of a Noah’s ark type flooding scenario resulting from global warming and like a good virgin is sacrificed to the gods for the sake of the many and predictably ends up suffering the same fate. OMG, you really can’t devise a more cheesy plot. This is the stuff of the Lifetime network or tales in an evangelical setting but you know what? Somehow i’ve grown to like this album more than this horrendous lyrical plot would otherwise allow me to do so. The secret to this album’s success lies well beyond the infantile lyrical setting and exclusively in the eminent maturity of the musical expressions that border on sheer genius.

Suffice it to say that this sextet of young adventurous musicians comes across as a veritable conglomeration of seasoned veterans who created an afterthought supergroup more than a band who had only been around for a short time and cranking out their debut album. In the high arts territory of progressive rock and experimental metal, several albums are usually required for a group to finally find their true voice in the crowded fields of talented musicians who have yet to find their unique idiosyncratic expressions. Not so with HAKEN. Lyrical content aside, AQUARIUS is a musical feast for the ears with one hook-laden melody after another teased out into an infinity and fractalized manner of performing brilliant time signature shifts, tempo variations and genre bending antics like well-trained circus performers at their peak. While AQUARIUS may swallow up an entire hour and thirteen minutes of your life with only a couple weak tracks in its midst, the experience is one that has won the hearts of many and deserves much (but not all) of the praise that has been showered upon it.

Second things, second. This is not a metal album per se despite having metal elements aboard. Metalheads have been spoiled by the fact that metal sounding attributes have remained exclusively in the domain of, well, metal for the majority of the genre’s existence. Such is no longer the case. Elements of metal have been cross-pollinating with musical genres for decades but when a full-fledged progressive rock powerhouse like HAKEN finally takes these fusions to a logical extreme, it often ruffles feathers when such bands are deemed metal. Think of this as a progressive rock album first with more metal than usual and all is good. I mean, is Mr. Bungle or Riverside metal most of the time? Not really, but somehow they straddle multiple realities with only the most hardcore crying foul if they are included in the metal universe. Metal music is a vast spectrum at this point and nomenclature is a mere filing system that shouldn’t reflect the true nature of any particular band’s overall metal creds. Musically speaking, HAKEN has all the chops that make an excellent metal album, it’s just that they don’t choose to exercise those given chops throughout the album’s entirety.

AQUARIUS is first and foremost a piano driven melodic experience that highlights the ho hum saccharin storyline and it’s true that while tracks like “Streams,” “Aquarium” and “Sun” take these gut wrenching overweening AOR moments a tad too far, much of the album is a brilliant mix of progressive rock musical compositions and genre jumping instrumental woofiness that embrace a shimmering modern day production job replete with all the brilliant effects such as echoes, symphonic ambience and crystal clear distinction between not only the predominant musical actors such as the guitar, bass, drums and keys accompanied by supplemental musical sounds from the tuba, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, harp, djembe and ocean drum. The labor of love of AQUARIUS is apparent and the excellent performances nullify and voidify the rather silly lyrical content. BTW, vocalist Ross Jennings despite his best effort of expressing himself in clear and concise clean vocalization and coming across in the same trill Jon Anderson manner throughout the majority of the album, still can’t be understood beneath the musical backdrop.

This is a progressive album in every sense of the word. Lengthy compositions with most hovering around the ten minute mark and the finale “Celestial Elixir” almost hitting the 17 minute mark allow the music to develop at its own pace. While piano dominated in terms of compositional construct, the musicians are often let off the leash with extended guitar and keyboard solos to express themselves in creative new ways unheard before this album. While the overall approach may seem somewhat familiar, i mean this sort of progressive metal has been done with bands like Shadow Gallery, Dream Theater etc, HAKEN do have a unique sound all their own when they deviate from these established paradigms. The tracks uniquely develop their own personalities for the most part but some have more than others. While somewhat restrained by the vocal / piano anchoring that continues throughout, many external liberties are abundant. For example “Drowning In The Flood” seems to adopt a Soundgarden grunge / alt metal approach. The real strength of AQUARIUS is in the hyperactive instrumental parts that jump from polkas and waltzes to a very few death metal growl oriented heavier pieces. Much of the symphonic wizardry evokes a 70s Genesis meets Kansas feel but with a modern heavy neo-prog veneer.

When all is said and done it took me a while to warm up to this album and the band HAKEN in general. While being accused of merely stealing the ideas of others and not really developing a style of their own, which is an accusation i cannot wholeheartedly deny, i have to admit that after many repeated listens to help me decipher the multitude of feelings i’ve experienced in listening to this band and this album specifically, i have to finally admit that i neither find this album to the unabashed masterpiece of the ages that many do, but neither do i find this a complete piece of trash that others want to make it out to be simply because it somehow has been included in a larger metal paradigm despite not really being a metal album. Ultimately what wins me over with AQUARIUS is the musicianship. Yes, the lyrical content and conceptual storyline is laughable but doesn’t detract from an excellent musical listening experience. This is suavely performed with the proper emotional tugs in the neo-prog inspired melodic hooks with the icing on the cake resulting from the extravagant delving into technical workouts. A slow and determined weaseling into my heart but nevertheless, HAKEN has done so with AQUARIUS. Four stars.

HAKEN The Mountain

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Nightfly
Metal Music Archives Reviewer's Challenge: Album selected by mlkpad14.

My introduction to Haken came with their second album Visions released in 2011. Very impressed I was too – here was a band that had the chops of Dream Theater, who were clearly an influence but were writing more interesting music than that band had released for some time. Discovering their debut later I found the quality of songwriting nowhere near as strong though it had its moments.

The Mountain is the bands third album, of four so far and it’s pretty much neck and neck with Visions for their best work. Certainly the production is excellent and an improvement having a more natural sound than the processed sound of Visions. Musically it follows in the footsteps of past work - complex prog metal with plenty of dynamics and strong melodies interlaced with the occasional quirky moment. Just listen to the mid song instrumental section on In Memoriam for a jaw dropping demonstration of what these guys are capable of and few others are. The album though is littered with many more equally dextrous moments which are rarely less than captivating. All this wouldn’t count for much though if they didn’t have the songs to carry it. Fortunately they do, vocalist Ross Jennings managing to inject plenty of melody over the complex music which can also be pretty melodic at times though at its best when they go out on a limb in the many instrumental passages. The best of these apart from the afore-mentioned In Memoriam tend to feature in the longer pieces like Cockroach King, Falling Back To Earth and Pareidolia. The light and shade moments strategically placed between these wilder moments work nicely pacing the album well and keep the band from disappearing entirely up their arse with too much musical masturbation.

The standard of playing from all is not surprisingly virtuosic but special mention goes to drummer Ray Hearne who manages to out-Portnoy Mike Portnoy with a dazzling display of dexterity and power. One of my favourite drummers playing in any genre of music today.

After The Mountain I found 2016’s Affinity somewhat of a disappointment mainly in the instrumental workout department despite some solid moments. For now I’d recommend this as the best place to discover Haken if you’re a newbie.

HAKEN Affinity

Album · 2016 · Progressive Metal
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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 The Mountain

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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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
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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.

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