HAKEN – Visions (2011)


After being awarded as the best band in the recent ProgPower Festival, British progressive metal wonders HAKEN are releasing their second album “Visions”.
Haken broke on to the scene in 2009 with a well received debut, ‘Aquarius’, a real diamond in the genre that anyone with an ear to the progressive metal underground will vouch for Haken’s sublime talents.
If anything, “Visions” is even better.

Each of the eight tracks is a lovingly crafted journey into the most esoteric corners of rock, creating a sound limitless in its inspiration and executed with a technical flair beyond the grasp of many other bands, while retaining an instinctive passion.
Heavier and far more technical & progressive than the debut, “Visions” is a brilliant example of what progressive metal should be, jam packed with tremendous riffs and symphonic inventive instrumental corridors.
But also has a foot firmly planted on classic and melodic Prog with soaring melodies and catchy hooks to die for. The musicianship and musicality is incredible, full of progressions and terrific guitar and keyboard solos.

The instrumental overture “Premonition” gives us insights to what expect in this wonderfully elaborated album, with highly melodic passages blending tasteful electric leads and symphonic keys stirring up the epic factor.
Follower “Nocturnal Conspiracy” is something to behold, 13 minutes that truly condenses musical ideas that could have been fleshed out into half a dozen individual tracks. This track is a prog metal book, featuring a killer, fat melody and composition that changes gears often and with prestige.
The song also introduces the listener to the album’s concept; a man has tracked down and killed someone based on visions or dreams they had before.

The band utilizes the middle of the album with a wider variety of shorter, more punchy tracks.
Songs like “Insomnia”, the softer and eloquent “The Mind’s Eye”, the spiraling, profound Rush-esque “Portals”, and album highlight “Shapeshifter” (featuring some of the coolest passages of the CD in the intro and outro), offer glimpses at a band whose potential is really starting to reach the level of the genre’s best.
The captivating 22 minute title track is a feast of music. It perfectly illustrates the uncanny ability of the band to channel the influence of seventies heroes like Yes or ELP, alongside the grandiose pomp of stateside legends such as Styx and Kansas, while maintaining both individual identity and contemporary cutting edge – despite its component parts, nothing on “Visions” is dated or plagiaristic.
The song explores, in progressive fashion, a plethora of musical genres and styles to reflect the untrustable visions and dreams that the main character has. This composition is one of the grandest, heaviest, and most satisfying epics of this length.

“Visions” is one of the best albums of the year, no matter the genre.
Few bands have been able to pull off what Haken have done in their first two albums, pushing the boundaries further in a shorter amount of time, much shorter than the giants of progressive music did so.
The execution and production of the album are superb. Layers of instrumentation full of melody and catchiness, bombastic and grand when it needs to be.
All the songs are constructed without being overbearing or abusing the talents these musicians have for each other. No instrument stands out over the other, instead, they conspire to deliver an album and narrative that will certainly become beloved over time.
The band leader Richard Henshall is the orchestrator, delivering a keyboard/guitar performance out of this world, but I need to make a special mention to singer Ross Jennings who hits his high notes with aplomb and skill, with a range and ability that could suit a wide sphere of styles, even classic Hard Rock or Melodic Rock.
“Visions” is an album that can and should turn heads, not only in the Prog Metal field.
Very Recommended.

1. Premonition (4:10)
2. Nocturnal Conspiracy (13:08)
3. Insomnia (6:06)
4. The Mind’s Eye (4:05)
5. Portals (5:27)
6. Shapeshifter (8:08)
7. Deathless (8:04)
8. Visions (22:25)

Richard “Hen” Henshall – keyboards and guitar
Ross Jennings – vocals
Charles Griffiths – guitars
Raymond Hearne – drums, percussion
Thomas MacLean – bass
Diego Tejeida – keyboards
Alison Comerford, Jennifer Murphy – violins
Martin Wray – viola
Lucy Butcher – cello
Joey Ryan – french horn


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