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Haken – Fauna

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 10 February 2023, 9:48 AM

From their EPK, “If you’re talking about modern Progressive Rock and don’t bring up HAKEN, you’re doing it wrong. Since the south English sextet started jamming together in 2004, they’ve been one of their genre’s most loyal yet, simultaneously, adventurous forces. Every album they’ve released is distinct from all the rest, but they’re all tied together by their incalculable time signatures, fearless songwriting and majestic vocals – and, of course, their critical acclaim.” Their newest album here has an animal theme, and contains nine songs.

“Taurus” is first. It opens with a very heavy and serious sound from some guitar effects, and brutal bass notes. But the vocals are smooth, and in comes some sublime melodies in the chorus. The rhythm accents in the second verse are very hard to count…this is indeed Progressive music. The heavy tones return once more…the power of the bull so to speak. “Nightingale” has a magnanimous opening, leading to gentle melodies in the verses. Layers are added slowly, and before you know it, the big sound opens up. It’s not without some idiosyncrasies, which is quintessential HAKEN.

“The Alphabet of Me” was the first single I heard from the album…it has a very memorable song, with an equal dose of melodies and some Progressive elements…the perfect single to show the band’s songwriting prowess. “Sempiternal Beings” begins with mellow and thoughtful tones. The meaning of the word is “eternal and unchanging…everlasting.” Accents pick up with some wonderful bass work. At its heaviest, this album is an imposing grizzly bear, but it also has mastered the art of melody. “Beneath the White Rainbow” has both darker and heavier tones at times, but also playful melodies that have a solemn tinge to them. The heavier passages are laden with accents and skillful, dexterous performances. It would not be HAKEN without the funky bass notes and odd vocals in the bridge.

“Island in the Cloud” has smooth and mellow leanings with the lurking of something darker in the shadows. The animated figure darts in and out, never fully revealing himself. One theme running through the album so far is that some of the melodies are a bit more subdued at times. “Lovebite” is a short, concise song overflowing with melodies, and they are glorious. The Progressive elements are still strong, of course, but they really part the clouds and open up the blue sky in this song. “Elephants Never Forget” is an 11-minute beast with odd, dissonant sound mixed in with the melody. It wouldn’t be HAKEN without a track or two like this. They still prove the nay-sayers wrong with a prolific display of musicianship, however, including both a stunning keyboard and guitar solo.

“Eyes of Ebony” closes the album. It’s a pensive and well-crafted song not without its share of melody. It builds to an early crescendo and then backs off, taking a circuitous route. It comes back together in the chorus however, and finished in a tender note. Overall, their songwriting prowess and Progressive leanings are as strong as ever. You can’t talk about top notch musicians without mentioning their name. Some of the songs didn’t resonate as much with me as their earlier work, but in Progressive Music, there is no looking back, only forward.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Taurus
2. Nightingale
3. The Alphabet of Me
4. Sempiternal Beings
5. Beneath the White Rainbow
6. Island in the Clouds
7. Lovebite
8. Elephants Never Forget
9. Eyes of Ebony
Ross Jennings – Vocals
Richard Henshall – Guitars, Keys
Charlie Griffiths – Guitars
Pete Jones – Keys
Conner Green – Bass
Ray Hearne – Drums
Record Label: InsideOut Music


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