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Visions

Haken

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Album Review

Despite its unmatched historical legacy as the birthplace and key proving ground for progressive rock throughout the decades, Great Britain has curiously yielded precious few progressive metal bands of note, but this trend is something that the members of Haken are clearly eager to change. The London group's sophomore album, Visions, arrives barely one year after its predecessor, and merely three since the band's inception, and while it still owes a huge aesthetic debt to longstanding melodic prog metal powers such as Dream Theater, Stratovarius, and Symphony X, the high standards of invention contained herein ultimately remind listeners that this particular sandbox is big enough for everyone to play in. What's more, Visions clearly shows musical growth compared to the previous year's Aquarius, by tightening arrangements as Haken's songs continually morph dynamically, sharpening the balance between songwriting acumen and the mandatory displays of instrumental prowess. Most importantly, perhaps, these tracks reveal a far more confident, much improved performance from singer Ross Jennings, who's no longer the whiny beeotch of yore (at his worse, he sounded like an even more limp version of Yes' Jon Anderson). In fact, while he's hardly the star of the show and won't be pleasing the extreme crowd by abandoning the occasional death growl, Jennings is now hanging tough with his talented bandmates, every one of whom contributes something special (jazz piano solo, churning bass solo, endless flashy guitar, and percussive flurries) to early album statement "Nocturnal Conspiracy," a 13-minute epic showcasing the length and breadth of Haken's present evolutionary state. This ranges from Porcupine Tree to Opeth (and not a Steve Wilson is in sight), taking in additional epics (the aptly named "Shapeshifter") and shorter tunes alike (with special kudos to the excellent instrumental "Portals"), while flirting with everything from pulsing electronics ("Insomnia") to classical piano and soft rock sensibilities ("Deathless") in between. Yes, the 22-minute title track, containing more of the same and still much, much more musical variety/insanity, may simply prove too grossly self-indulgent for everyone to stomach, but then, maybe not if you've made it this far and still can't be bothered by the overt Dream Theater influences mentioned earlier. All of which means that Visions isn't exactly a proud new flagship in Her Royal Majesty's Progressive Rock (H.R.M.P.R.) navy, but it's pretty darn seaworthy nonetheless.

Customer Reviews

Brilliant!

One of the best prog metal releases in a long time! Everyone has gone over the great characteristics of the CD, so I'll make a couple other observations:

Production - this is my main complaint! The mix is great, but WHY SO MUCH COMPRESSION?? When Premonition kicks it, it should have dynamics and unfortunately it just gets beat down by the loudness wars. Hopefully, a remaster appears in a few years. It is possible to produce a prog metal CD that sounds amazing - check out Katatonia's "Night is the New Day,"

Drums - love the drumming,but they sound like Roland V-drums. Snare needs more life (see above paragraph about compression).

Shapeshifter - great song, but sounds very similar to the breakdown on Opeth's "Baying of the Hounds".

YOU MUST BUY THIS CD! I was clearly just nitpicking! Don't let my douchery detour you! That is all :-)

Fantastic album.

An incredibly strong release for today's progressive metal scene. Haken crafted an awesome sound on Aquarius, and Visions only takes that and refines it. The songwriting is tighter, the emotional impact is heightened, the and musical chops are empowered as well. Nocturnal Conspiracy is an incredible track that showcases Haken's sound very well, whereas Deathless is probably Haken's most emotional piece overall. Visions is an epic if I've seen one, and definitely a fun musical journey. Definitely one of the best albums of the year!

haha

ok music but this band used the same album cover as Throwdown's Deathless album. Look it up

Biography

Formed: 2007 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in 2007 by To-Mera guitarist and keyboardist Richard ''Hen" Henshall, Haken are a full-fledged modern progressive rock band hailing from London, England and also featuring vocalist Ross Jennings, guitarist Charlie Griffiths (of Linear Sphere), keyboardist Diego Tejeida, bassist Tom Maclean (also of To-Mera), and drummer Ray Hearne. With ambitions set high from the start, the group produced a demo by 2008 and then dove headlong into recording its 2010 debut album, Aquarius (a concept piece,...
Full Bio
Visions, Haken
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Metal
  • Released: Oct 25, 2011

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