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Haken - Vector Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 07 November 2018, 11:45 AM

So, I’m apparently a little behind in reviewing this album, from London UK based Progressive Rock/Metal band HAKEN. I’ve heard some things here and there, and thought it was my turn to put in my two cents, from a band who lists their interests as “Pushing boundaries, Listening to 80's cowboy rock, Shouting in awe of pizzadag, Cooking with next level meat cage cooking apparatus, Utilizing next level cross-rhythmic devices for unnecessary means, Playing guitars with more strings than everyone else, Eating contests, Texican Pizzadag, Gary Workout, Kevin Wednesday, Dutch Southern, Stage Hands, The C Major Scale, Crazy Alcohol Rainbow Pigs, Nicolas Cage, and I Dunno Man.” The album contains seven tracks, five of which are offered as instrumentals on Disc Two.

“Clear” leads off the album with fat keyboard notes, and tentative organ notes, like the start of a church service. There is both light and dark elements present here, and it leaves you unable to choose one over the other, seguing into “The Good Doctor,” which is a fairly straightforward song with electronic drum strikes and a bit of an off rhythm. It has an accessible sound, like any good pop song, it leaves a lasting impression on your lips. It gathers some serious steam towards the end however, with tight instrumental accents. “The Puzzle Box” is twice as long, at close to eight minutes, opening with a rigid and dense riff that leads to a pensive verse, and then an all-out chorus. The guitars chug away while the bass dances in the background…a well-timed sequence from experienced musicians. It then goes on an extended instrumental passage that leaves you with your jaw on the floor.

“Veil” is a twelve minute opus. It opens with a feeling of nostalgia for me…remembering better, more care-free days. From there is gets a little sad, with a chugging heavy riff and darkness seeps in. It’s a heavy and aggressive affair, with a pinch of DREAM THEATER, especially in the music, though the vocals remain fairly passive and introspective. Just after the half way mark, the music backs off into a dreamy sequence, and then it’s back to that heavy sound which takes us to the end. “Nil by Mouth” is a much shorter sound, opening with some electronica and leading to heavy, weighted accents. It’s an instrumental that is all about exploring while keeping true to the original sound. The amount of dexterity it takes to pull something like this off is impressive. Listen to drummer Ray Hearne here…he is flawless in his execution.

“Host” opens softly with a muted trumpet, with a melancholy sound overall. As the guitar play clean passages there is some type of horn in the forefront, perhaps simulated keys? It culminates in the end, in an all-out lament. “A Cell Divides” closes the album. It’s dark and moody for sure, with anger and despair bubbling under the surface with each passing note. Then, those lovely keys come in for a bit, nearly overwhelming you with their simple dejection. Overall, this is probably their most technical affair to date. They really honed their musicianship into tightly woven passages that defy the concept of meter and time, and flex their muscles with the seasoned experience they have as a group. I wouldn’t call it a comeback album, as HAKEN never really went anywhere, but it’s more of a reminder of just how damn good they really are.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Clear
2. The Good Doctor
3. Puzzle Box
4. Veil
5. Nil by Mouth
6. Host
7. A Cell Divides
Charlie Griffiths – Guitars
Ray Hearne – Drums
Richard Henshall – Guitars
Ross Jennings – Vocals
Diego Tejeida – Keys
Conner Green – Bass
Record Label: InsideOut Music


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