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Better Know A Band: Haken

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by Harvester, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Harvester

    Harvester The Promoter

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    *I'm taking the easy ones!



    Haken

    Wiki Entry


    Haken is a London-based Progressive Rock/Progressive Metal band formed in 2007. At the moment they have one debut album, Aquarius, released in 2010.


    Biography

    Haken was formed in 2007 by To-Meraguitarist and keyboardist Richard Henshall and his two school friends Ross Jennings (vocals) and Matthew Marshall (guitar). The band completed their lineup with a keyboardist they met on an online forum, Peter Jones, and Jones' close friend and drummer Raymond Hearne, and To-Mera guitarist Tom MacLean became the band's bassist. They recorded a demo in 2007 that contained two tracks, 'Snow' and 'Souls'. With the demo they began to play small live venues in London, with some good response. In 2008 they then recorded four more songs, 'Manifolds', 'Blind', 'Sleeping Thoughts Wake' and 'Black Seed', and released a full-length demo including all six existing tracks.

    Later in 2008, Marshall and Jones left the band to pursue other careers. Charlie Griffiths, the guitarist for the band Linear Shpere and Anchorhead became a full time member of the band. The keyboardist Diego Tejeida joined the band in late 2008 as well. As they began to tour more, even opening a few UK shows for King's X, Sensory Records recognized them and offered them a record deal. They began recording for their debut album, Aquarius, soon after, and it was released in March 2010.


    Personal Take


    Let's be honest. I'm biased. I picked them for the roster. I think the fair thing to do is let you see a few other reviews.

    1. Sea of Tranquilty:

    From London comes Haken, a new progressive rock band who also have an obvious liking for the metal genre as well. Their new release Aquarius finds its home on Sensory, the heavier label from the folks at The Lasers Edge. Formed in 2007, the band is comprised of Richard Henshall on guitar & keyboards, Diego Tejeida on keyboards, bassist Thomas MacLean, guitarist Charles Griffiths, Raymond Hearne on drums, and vocalist Ross Jennings. As some of these folks are also members of To-Mera and Linearsphere, you can gather that Aquarious is going to be filled with some pretty adventurous music, and it certainly doesn't disappoint one bit.


    Much of what you hear on Aquarious is dark and moody progressive metal. Though there are the obvious influences of Dream Theater, Kansas, Genesis, and IQ, the band has their own sound and manages to keep things very interesting throughout the CD. Lead belter Jennings has an almost Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Audioslave) edge to his vocals, his soaring pipes work well within the complex, symphonic framework here. The bombastic opener "The Point of No Return" mixes wild keyboard flourishes with crunchy guitar work, and Jennings really throws a curveball when he tosses in a few growls for good measure alongside his stunning mid-range delivery. "Streams" sees Griffiths & Henshall throw every kind of guitar style at the listen; down-tuned heavy riffs, blazing leads, sitar-like passages, and complex patterns, alonside some stunning keyboard passages from Tejeida. Add in the emotional delivery from Jennings and you have a real gem of progressive, symphonic metal. The title track is another 10+ minute epic, this one a gentle prog piece that recalls Genesis, Queen, and IQ, complete with gorgeous keyboard layers and strong vocals, that builds and builds to a symphonic finale that will remind of classic Dream Theater. The atmospheric "Eternal Rain" sees plenty of blinding trade-off solos between the keys and guitars (these guys can seriously rip!), and "Drowning in the Flood" is a crushing prog-metal face melter, filled with powerful vocals, beefy riffs, intricate rhythms, and majestic keyboards. After the moody & haunting "Sun" comes the epic closer, "Celestial Elixir". This one is a near 17-minute mass of complex interplay, atmosphere, melody,and crunch. Plenty of tasty playing here, as the band do a great job of meshing the chops with melody and atmosphere for one exciting ride.

    You can easily see that Aquarious is going to find a home with the progressive metal community, but the one great thing is that the album is never too heavy, so it's safe to say that a lot of pure prog fans should find a lot to like here as well. Great overall presentation too, as not only is the album itself sizzling with fantastic production, but you also get a great booklet with fanstastic artwork and full lyrics to read along with. Haken have arrived folks...make sure to check this one out.

    2. The Golden Bird:

    Aquarius is reminiscent of various progressive artists, but does not walk in the shadows of anyone. In other words, the album contains similarities to music such as early Dream Theater and Yes but still creates an identity for itself. Haken has given a melting pot of genres, branching from progressive metal to jazz fusion, symphonic rock, folk, and even subtle touches of classical. Due to its high levels of originality and diversity, it is extremely difficult to tie this album to any other albums or even genres for that matter.
    But as all progressive music, the music beams with musicality and complexity. There is no set structure throughout the songs, but the use of recurring themes effectively adds fluency. Every song is considerably dynamic, offering not only a great deal of different genres, but also various levels of heaviness and tempos. There is much diversity with respect to transitions between songs and song sections to attain flow. And additionally, neither the use of simple or complex rhythms are forced, giving even more natural feel to the album. The same can be said about the key signatures. Aquarius achieves a commendable level of musicianship without compromising the natural finish.
    The instrumental aspect is no less impressive than the intelligence underlying the album. Though no instrument is overly better than the other, the keyboards stand out most to me. This is because other than Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess, I have never heard a more effective use of such a grand collection of sounds and tones. They range from piano to strings to synthesizers to xylophonic sounds to basically anything. Everything on the keyboardists behalf, including everything from support to soloing, is absolutely amazing. But the same applies to the remaining instruments. The singer has an amazing clean voice, and uses the growl very selectively and effectively. Great rhythms and riffs, as well as solos, are given by the guitarist. The bassist is more subtle, but does an excellent job of creating melodic support lines. And finally, the drummer gives unorthodox, but highly impressive beats and fills. Each band member makes a presence for themselves without compromising any other member or, more importantly, the music altogether.

    Aquarius is among the most, if not the most, extraordinary debut albums I have ever heard. Whether it be regarding the musicianship or the instrumental execution, the album is flawless for all I am concerned. It extremely original, yet there are subtle hints of its origin. Without doubt, the record is a notable contender for album of the year. And though I may be quite presumptuous, it could very well be album of the decade. If Haken were to discontinue, it would be a grave tragedy for the art of music. But based on the quality of Aquarius, this band is going to great places.

    3. Hellbound:

    I am totally blown away. Haken is the best thing to happen to progressive metal in many, many years. Hailing from England, this relatively young band has unleashed a masterpiece. The great thing about this band is unlike a lot of prog rock bands they don’t come across as being pretentious. You get a huge helping of Yes/Kansas but they can turn up the heaviness ala Dream Theater’s “Train of Thought” on the drop of a dime. They make it all seem very seamless. The singer has a nice warm voice and takes you on the journey of what I believe is a concept album. Numerous time changes bring depth and incredible excitement with great anticipation as to what is coming next From prog rock to metal to movie soundtrack with loads of bizarre instruments such as banjos and oboe. They are always surprising you with each turn of the song. The music itself is quite intricate but presented in a very comfortable and melodic way. Closing track “Celestial Elixir” is seventeen minutes long and has one of the best choruses that you will hear all year. This album needs to be heard in its entirely to fully grasp how magical this cd is.

    Pure gold.


    You Tube Links:








     
    #1 Harvester, Sep 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  2. Cheiron

    Cheiron Member

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    I dare Justin to wear a mermaid suit for this band.

    I am a fan. There are times when listening to them where I start doubting that I enjoy them, but then the next time I love them again. I can't remember who mentioned it first on the PM Rising board, but there is a heavy Kansas influence here and I welcome it. It is quirky (though not as quirky as some people think), and the lyrics can remind me of Three Dog Night (for some reason), but it's the strength of the song writing that works for me. I also enjoy the vocalist, though I know that several people are fans of the band but feel his performance is the weak spot. I just can't think of anybody that would od much better.
     
  3. Osiris' Eyes

    Osiris' Eyes El Duderino

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    Being a To-Mera fanboy I am looking forward to seeing Haken perform on the big stage! I must admit, Aquarius takes some time and effort to fully absorb and enjoy but with each and every spin, the beauty and intricacies begin to take form. IMO, the disc gets progressively (pun intended) accessible beginning with song #3, Aquarium and takes off from there. Haken is as unique as unique can be...as much as I try to compare them to another band, I keep coming up empty. The only thing one needs to enjoy this release is an open mind...Cheers! :kickass:

    Now, if only this can open the door for To-Mera to one day grace their presence at ProgPower!!!
     
  4. ApolloFC

    ApolloFC Sax-Man

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    Unfamiliar with Haken. To-Mera sounded like a band I thought I knew but I don't recognize any of the album covers, so I guess not. Doesn't really matter. I like this kind of prog. Seems like I'll be headed to PPUSA for the 3rd time... in a row even.
     
  5. General Zod

    General Zod Ruler of Australia

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    Quality music, which is truly progressive. It's takes a few listens to absorb, but it's worth it.
     
  6. Riceloft

    Riceloft Member

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    The disc has some great moments. I think this will be a very good set next year.
     
  7. Rev. Clayton

    Rev. Clayton The Singer

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    This is the best thing I've heard in the last year or so...awesome.
     
  8. PopLies

    PopLies New Metal Member

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    First time I listened to the album, there were times when I was like.. where did that come from? Because they shift their sound without notice... but after repeated listens it all works together perfectly. Absolutely love the band/album.
     
  9. Palabra de Dios

    Palabra de Dios Heavy Metal Weatherman

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    Can't wait to read the interview with someone from Haken, so they can explain where the fuck the lyrical concept for Aquarius came from. I like it, but it's very different.
     
  10. bifferty

    bifferty New Metal Member

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    I love it. Great album. Great band.
     
  11. esa

    esa Member

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    Been background and car-listening for couple of weeks; finally got to crank it up on the audiophile-adequate home theater system.

    The production on this disc is jaw-dropping. There hasn't been Prog this good at ProgPower since Redemption! Can't wait.
     
  12. AMBR

    AMBR Metal Grandma

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    That was my reaction as well. Didn't really take to the first song, "The Point of No Return" but quickly caught on to most of the others. Truly and inspired album that is growing on me with each spin. Yea, would definitely like to know more about lyrical story.
     
  13. TwizstedJesus

    TwizstedJesus Member

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    Its definitely a grower. I didn't care for the lyrics at 1st listen, but with each further listen the lyrics don't bother me much once I focus on the songs. Very impressive disc!
     
  14. DADRocks

    DADRocks Member

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    Well, I'm glad it took a few people a few listens for this album to grow on them and then post it here. I started listening to the 1st track, had a hard time at first getting through it and went on to another cd. I threw it back in after reading some of your thoughts and its a lot better with more listens. Thanks, I may not of thrown it back in. Glad I did.
     
  15. pulsefloyd

    pulsefloyd Member

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    Just seen them live at SUMMERS END in the UK, following their big success at PROGPOWER EUROPE the weekend before. They played 60 minutes of stunning music from AQUARIUS - powerful passionate stuff - ending with their spine tingling epic CELESTIAL ELIXIR. Now looking forward to seeing them with Freak Kitchen in November. I think PROGPOWER USA XII is in for a treat.

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/ind...&friendID=81139156&albumID=0&imageID=58732377
     
  16. J-Dubya 777

    J-Dubya 777 It NEVER ends

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    Jealous of you getting to see FK with these guys! Have a great time, and be sure to report back!:headbang:
     
  17. pulsefloyd

    pulsefloyd Member

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    Will do...Really looking forward to it...Cheers and all the best. :Spin:
     
  18. pulsefloyd

    pulsefloyd Member

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    Hi Mate. Awesome show. Haken kicked off with 30 minutes of energy, power and passionate playing - they nailed it. Good crowd and enthusiastic response. DROWNING IN THE FLOOD with its great opening riff. ETERNAL RAIN with the lethal trade off solos between Charlie, Richard and Diego. Finishing with AQUARIUM with its slow ambient start and the dramatic build up. Left with crowd shouting for more. Missed the second band, in the bar. What can I say about FREAK KITCHEN - insane brilliance, crushing and eccentric metal riffs, crazy lyrics laced with humour, masterful fretboard fireworks from Mattias Eklundh driven by brilliant powerhouse drummer and bass player in riot police gear and spraying lager over the crowd. How does that guy play,incorporating so much technique, different styles, virtuoso playing, impossible time signatures and sing at the same time. Mattias is a friend of Charlie's and they've done some masterclasses together. Brilliant night of unforgettable music and playing.
     
  19. J-Dubya 777

    J-Dubya 777 It NEVER ends

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    Most excellent! Glad you ha a great time. It's been WAY too long since they have been back here in the US....:kickass:
     

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