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Haken - Virus Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 18 May 2020, 11:49 AM

HAKEN is a UK based Prog machine, akin to the early days of DREAM THEATER. They have really taken the Progressive Metal industry by storm, forcing people to stand up and take notice. “Virus” has been in the works since they release “Vector” and toured heavily from it. I am only assuming it is about the current pandemic we find ourselves involved in. The album contains eleven tracks.

“Prosthetic” opens the album. It opens with an angry tone…an attacking element. The music is dark and the guitars, drums and bass attack in perfect unison. The vocals are very sterile in the verses, but open up in the chorus. Keys make their presence known a bit as well. “Invasion” has a little more levity, but still the seriousness of the subject matter comes through in the lyrics, “why is it we haven’t learned from the mistakes we’ve ever made.” Though the band is clearly super-talented, they let the subject matter tell the tale, rather than overly technical musical elements.

“Carosel” is a ten-minute epic, taking early about “wish we could go back to the way it was.” The music remains dark, fitting the theme of the album. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are strong, but the overall melodies are a bit lost in the new, darker sound. A heavy, Djenty sound makes an appearance as well, amidst the lighter and dreamier passages. “The Strain” features more of that darker sound, which is now embedded into the album. The lighter passages are where the melody shines. “Canary Yellow” opens with light instrumentation and a softer sound. It has a dreamy sound overall; sort of like that moment when the worlds of hope and despair collide.

“Messiah Complex I – Ivory Tower” is where the heart of the album comes into play. It opens with more of those light and dreamy tones, allowing the heavier passages to take on more power. “Messiah Complex II – A Glutton for Punishment” is a shorter number, focused more on the musicianship of the band, with shifting meters and keys featured. This is more of the HAKEN I know and love. They are masterful at hitting the notes at the required time, in perfect unison. The next two movements are progressively shorter. “Part III – Marigold” is just over two minutes in length, and hears the sound of the previous track continue on a bit, with dark and heavy accents. “Part IV – The Sect” is a two-minute continuation of the previous track, where they seem to be really digging into the middle/latter parts of the concept.

“Messiah Complex V – Ectobius Rex” is the five-minute closer to the mini-concept on the album. As you would expect, it features ominous tones and Djenty rhythms. Their musicianship takes on a new life here, complete with a fancy guitar solo. “Only Stars” closes the album in a short two-minute track with dreamy lines, and a terse ending. Overall, I thought the concept on the album connected to the listener quite easily. You can easily get lost in the message, which is the goal for any concept album for sure. The band is obviously talented, but they let this album breathe a bit more than previous albums. When they want to “turn it on,” it is game on. But they let it ride here a little more so that you can soak up the concept.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Prosthetic
2. Invasion
3. Carousel
4. The Strain
5. Canary Yellow
6. Messiah Complex I – Ivory Tower
7. Messiah Complex II – A Glutton for Punishment
8. Messiah Complex III – Marigold
9. Messiah Complex IV – The Sect
10. Messiah Complex V – Ectobius Rex
11. Only Stars
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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