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Music Review

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Artist: Haken
Label: InsideOut Music
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 05 June 2020

InsideOut Music releases the album Virus, by Progressive Metal band Haken. They were formed in 2007, although they honed their art from 2004. The current line-up incorporates Ross Jennings on lead vocals, Richard Henshall on guitar and keyboards, Raymond Hearne on drums, Charlie Griffiths on guitar, Diego Tejeida on keyboards, and Connor Green on bass...

Since their last album, Vector, released in 2018, Haken have toured extensively in Europe and America supporting Devin Townsend. After releasing The Mountain, in 2013, fans were asking the question “Who is the Cockroach King?” This is something the band is addressing across two albums, the last one and this new release. Virus is available as a Limited Edition 2-CD Mediabook (with instrumental mixes and sticker), as a Gatefold 2-LP + CD, as a Standard CD, and as a Digital Download.

'Prosthetic' can be seen and heard on YouTube as a teaser video. It begins with plenty of energy. Guitar and drums play the pattern in unity. In fact, the drums are probably the most interesting aspect of the sound. However, the guitars are crisp and melodic in this one. The vocals to me sound too clean for the style of music. This is just as much Technical Metal as Prog. It’s a very solid opener though. Nevertheless, it proves to be misleading, as the rest of the album is very different, and not so much to my liking.

'Invasion' begins with a throbbing keyboard and stilted vocals. The verse is lighter, albeit with fuzz guitar, while the chorus is a little heavier. This is the theme from here on; it’s a cross genre with Goth Metal. The remaining tracks conform to the normal restraints of Prog. In 'Carousel', the vocals are far too poppy and West Coast for me, but the guitars and drums save them from sounding too wet. This song has its heavy moments, but it’s too long and meandering. I lost interest more than halfway through this ten-and-a-half minute marathon. 'The Strain' follows a moderate pace with occasional galloping up-beat. This band is technically very tight, but it’s too ‘clever’ by half – to the point of pretentiousness. It is well-produced though. By the time of 'Canary Yellow' I’m becoming a little tired by the predictable similarity of style. Perhaps it’s because this is not my chosen sub-genre of Metal. I enjoy energy and melody, but like to be surprised and excited, too.

To be completely honest, I found the five linked songs of 'Messiah Complex' a chore to endure. The closer, 'Only Stars', is slow and off-kilter with sound effects. I’m certain something more atmospheric could have been made of this track. The biggest problem I have with this album is it’s far too long, with very little variation to keep it fresh. It’s nice that the Prog has been interlaced with Industrial and Technical Metal, but it remains solidly embedded in Prog Rock and all of it’s cliched restrictions. Nevertheless, because this record isn’t to my liking it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad one. Current fans of Haken will savour this, I’m sure.


Ty Power

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