HAKEN launch new single ‘Nightingale’ / begin North American tour with Symphony X on May 10th

Progressive rockers, Haken, are excited to announce the release of their brand new single, ‘Nightingale’. The latest single showcases the first new material the band have presented with returning keyboard player, Pete Jones, and the first since the release of their last album, ‘Virus’, back in 2020. 

Watch the video here:

Stream & download the track here: https://haken.lnk.to/Nightingale-Single

The band comments: “Nightingale was the first track Pete Jones presented to the band after rejoining Haken this year. The initial song idea quickly inspired of the classic Haken sound and naturally evolved into some new harmonic territory. The song ranges from delicate moments to monstrous riffs. 

We enlisted Jens Bogren to mix Nightingale and, as always, he’s blown us away by capturing every detail while delivering power and energy. We couldn’t be happier with the finished product. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the creative process itself; with a message that although it may be difficult of late, we must remember to be thankful for the positives in life; be they big or small.” 

In March, the band announced the initial details of ‘Nightingale’, as well as held a competition for fans to submit their own original artwork for the forthcoming single. The winning artwork as chosen by the band themselves, from Belgium’s Rein Van Oyen, can be seen below.

The band was recently forced to announce the postponement of their European tour dates, with new dates soon to be announced. Their upcoming North American tour begins with ‘Cruise to the Edge’ leaving port on 2nd May, followed by an expansive trek alongside Symphony X set to go ahead starting 10th May, 2022 in New York City, running through the month and ending 12th June in New Jersey. Find the full list of dates here: https://hakenmusic.com/tour/ 

2nd – 7th May – Port Caneveral, FL – Cruise to the Edge 

W/ Symphony X

10th May – New York, NY – Irving Plaza

11th May – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre

12th May – Worcester, MA – The Palladium

13th May – Quebec City, QC – Imperial Bell

14th May – Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

15th May – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall

17th May – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre

18th May – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

19th May – Chicago, IL – Park West

20th May – St Louis, MO – Red Flag

21st May – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater

23rd May – Denver, CO – The Oriental Theater

24th May – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex

26th May – Seattle, WA – The Showbox

27th May – Vancouver, BC – The Rickshaw Theatre

28th May – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre

29th May – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom

31st May – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory

1st June – Los Angeles, CA – The Belasco Theater

2nd June – Mesa, AZ – Nile Theater

4th June – Austin, TX – Empire Garage

5th June – Dallas, TX – Amplified Live

7th June – Atlanta, GA – Heaven at the Masquerade

8th June – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live

10th June – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle

11th June – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage

12th June – Montclair, NJ – The Wellmont Theater

HAKEN are:

Ross Jennings

Richard Henshall

Charlie Griffiths

Pete Jones

Conner Green

Ray Hearne 

Review – D’Virgilio, Morse & Jennings – Troika – by John Wenlock-Smith

Neal Morse is a highly creative chap with his fingers in many different pies and always has something that he is working on for future release. He loves to have a project in the works and now he has crafted a different colour and sound palette of music for all to enjoy although ‘Troika’ is a bit different in that it a very song based album, mostly acoustic guitar led with occasional hand held drums. He is joined by former Spock’s Beard, and current Big Big Train, drummer/vocalist Nick D’Virgilio and Ross Jennings from prog metallers Haken.

The music is very vocal led, Crosby Stills & Nash are a good reference point for the sound the trio make together, they really bring the songs to life, getting it right by offering strong songs with simple but sympathetic playing and this really brings dividends. In addition, the vocals are all clean with the lyrics being very clearly heard, the lead vocals being shared between the three, which also really drives home the strength of the material that the trio offer.

This is another product from lockdown and on that has used the time to favourable effect. The music is relaxed and yet melodic with delicate guitar lines and keyboards in the mix and an overarching requirement for the songs themselves to be the main emphasis and focus of the album. This is a bold decision for these men to take but this vein they mine here really is something both different and unexpected with fine and good musical moments. The combination of voices is both magical and musical and a high point for each of them. The fantastic percussive opening to Everything I Am sets their stall out well, as does the delicate piano during Julia and the acoustic guitar frenzy at the end of the song that closes out the song.

Some will say the songs are not really ‘proggy’ but that does not really matter when the material is as strong as this. The whole album bristles with energy and excitement and this is a spectacular set of material. In fact, this is such a positive and uplifting album to listen to and the more you hear it the more you can appreciate the craft that these people have invested into this project and you see how special this album really is. In days when the news is bad, and everyone is ‘down’ this album is a real Tonic for that condition. On any level this is a fine album, there is so much to enjoy in each performance, the more I hear it the more I want to hear it again, it really is that good!

This is one album that you need to listen too, preferably in an open top car cruising down the road by the coast as this distils summer and sunny days into a musical companion, it evokes that kind of mood and is an album to treasure and to return to repeatedly. I take my hat off to these three remarkable artists who between them have delivered what will certainly be on my albums of the year list, no mean feat for an album only released in February!

Let us have a closer look at what makes this album so good;

I think, for me, it is the sheer unbridled joy that emanates from these grooves that make you feel so happy and that really works so well, as does the way in which the harmonies all gel together so remarkably, like three old friends reuniting. The albums strength lies in its simplicity really. This is not some multi-faceted soundscapes of music, this is music stripped down to its barest components, voice, acoustic guitars and percussion. Although there are keyboards on some tracks, this is certainly a less is more approach that the trio have taken here and that is an approach that pays big dividends, understatement being key as it leads you to focus on the fantastic voices of the three men.

Julia is a stand out track, an absolute corker, with delicate harmonies and clever backing vocals and counterpoint lines from the delicate piano of Neal Morse, this song really shows the depth of vision the trio possess and offer, this is gorgeously performed and delivered by the three. It’s a standout performance and when you consider that this was all recorded remotely, even more impressive really! You Set My Soul On Fire is also another excellent piece of music, one in which the trio offer enough space within the track to really allow the song to breathe, most fabulously.

I cannot recommend ‘Troika’ highly enough, this is an album that is most worthy of your time and attention and you too will discover this masterpiece for yourself, it is fabulous, it really is.

Released 25th February, 2022.

Order from Burning Shed here:

Troika (burningshed.com)

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – shares new single & video for “Prescient” feat. Micheal Mills and Ross Jennings; pre-orders start today

Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) is back with a new Star One album titled Revel In Time.  The new album comes more than 10 years since the previous release and is due out on Feb 18th, 2022 on InsideOutMusic.  Revel In Time is now available for pre-order, along with the re-issues of “Victims of the Modern Age” and “Space Metal”. 

Today, Arjen is pleased to share the third single and video for “Prescient” featuring Micheal Mills (Toehider) and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena).

Watch the video for “Prescient” here:

Arjen has this to say about the track:

“For me this is the most varied Star One album so far, every track has a totally different feel. The first single, Lost Children of the Universe, is a big epic track; the second single, Fate of Man, is a fast metal track, and Prescient is definitely the most proggy on the album. With the video we tried to capture that vintage black and white Twilight Zone feel with a touch of David Lynch!”

Revel In Time is available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, Ltd. Deluxe 3CD+Blu-Ray Artbook (incl. a poster of the cover artwork), as 180g Gatefold 2LP (incl. the album on CD & an LP-Booklet) and as Digital Album (2 CD).

Also available will be a 5.1 mix, a high-res audio version, and an exclusive, hour-long Behind the Scenes video, on the Blu-ray included in the Artbook.

You can pre-order the album here:

https://arjenanthonylucassensstarone.lnk.to/RevelInTime

1] Fate of Man 5:29

2] 28 Days (Till the End of Time) 7:21

3] Prescient 6:34

4] Back from the Past 4:50

5] Revel in Time 4:38

6] The Year of ’41 6:20

7] Bridge of Life 5:14

8] Today is Yesterday 5:46

9] A Hand on the Clock 5:52

10] Beyond the Edge of it All 4:52

11] Lost Children of the Universe 9:46 

CD 2 features alternate versions of the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists.

Arjen explains the decision to return with a new Star One album:

“Ayreon is like the mothership for all my music. It contains all the different musical styles that I like to listen to and that I love to create. But I’m always looking for challenges and trying to create something new and original as well. Working within a set of constraints forces you to do that, so sometimes I like to limit myself and focus on just one style. For example, with Star One I focus on the metal-side of Ayreon. That means you won’t hear the exuberantly liberal use of acoustic instruments that are so often featured on Ayreon albums, like violin, woodwinds, cello, horns, dulcimer, mandolin, etc.”

Nick D’Virgilio, Neal Morse & Ross Jennings share first single and video for “Julia” from debut album

Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock’s Beard), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, NMB, ex-Spock’s Beard), and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) are pleased to announce their debut album titled ‘Troika’ will be released on Feb 25th, 2022.

The album is now available for pre-order here:

D’Virgilio, Morse & Jennings – Julia (lnk.to)

Today, the band is also sharing the album’s first single “Julia”.  You can watch the video by Christian Rios here:

Ross had this to say about the track:

“With my original demo clocking in at around the 8-minute mark and possibly leaning too close to ‘prog epic’ than the singer/songwriter vibe we were attempting to present on this record, Neal arranged my lengthy ballad into something more concise, in-keeping with the album’s essence and writing in a powerful new chorus in the process!

“This one was all about the 3-part vocal harmony interplay and ‘pull-at-the-heartstring’ lyrics which deals with themes of regret and forgiveness in the context of a broken father-daughter relationship.”

– Ross Jennings

Tracklisting:

1.Everything I Am (5:43)

2. Julia (6:07) 

3. You Set My Soul On Fire (3:22) 

4. One Time Less (4:53)

5. Another Trip Around The Sun (4:39) 

6. A Change Is Gonna Come (4:24) 

7. If I Could (4:02) 

8. King For A Day (5:47)

9. Second Hand Sons (4:43)

10. My Guardian (3:43)

11. What You Leave Behind (4:16)

 ‘Troika’ will be available as Ltd. CD Edition / Gatefold 2LP+CD / Digital Album. Each format includes a bonus alternative version of the track ‘Julia’ and is available for pre-order here: https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/Troika

Recorded during lockdown, the process began with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. He already knew how well his voice blended with former Spock’s Beard band-mate and Big Big Train drummer/ vocalist, Nick D’Virgilio who came on board and, considering a third man, the Americans sought out Haken’s Ross Jennings from the UK to complete the trio. All three found they had songs that would benefit from the three part harmonic blend, and so they pooled their resources, inputting creatively into each others compositions. 

Neal comments: “What a great pleasure it’s been to work on this album with these amazing artists! It was kind of funny… We had been working on the songs remotely for several months before I finally heard all of us singing together at the same time. The first time I brought the faders up, I knew we had the magic!“ 

Nick adds: “I’ve known and worked with Neal for over 30 years and I’ve been a big fan of Ross and the music he makes for a long time. I felt confident right away that this would be a fun project to be a part of. I was so right.”

Ross comments: “Receiving ‘The Call’ from Neal to participate in this project was somewhat of a prayer answered… As a long time fan of their work, I’ve been singing along to Neal’s & Nick’s records for years, so it felt really natural for my voice to slot right in.”

The tracks took shape with the musicians recording all of the music and vocals separately, yet the eclectic performances burst with the energy and excitement of the collaboration. Acoustic anthems, charged rockers and sensitive ballads are all part of the mix, and the unique blend of Ross, Neal and Nick’s voices and styles have created an album in which you will encounter these musicians in a way you’ve never heard before.

HAKEN – Announce ‘Invasion 2022’ European Tour Dates

HAKEN is making its much anticipated return to live shows with the Invasion 2022 Tour. The group is pleased to announce dates for Europe which kicks off 4th February 2022 in Cologne. Dates and ticket links can be found below.  

Ray Hearne conveys the group’s excitement here: “It’s a huge relief to finally be able to announce a tour after such a difficult year for everyone. We’re incredibly excited for this one, which will be the first outing of many in 2022 in celebration of our latest album ‘Virus’. Bring on the Haken Invasion!” 

04 Feb – Cologne, de – Essigfabrik

https://www.eventim.de/artist/haken/

05 Feb – Nijmegen, NL – Doornroosje

06 Feb – Amsterdam, NL – Melkweg Max

https://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/271191

07 Feb – Hamburg, DE – Markthalle

https://www.eventim.de/artist/haken/

09 Feb – Berlin, DE – Columbia Theater

https://www.eventim.de/artist/haken/

10 Feb – Prague, CZ – Futurum

https://obscure.cz/cs/tickets/detail/id/431

11 Feb – Vienna, AT – Flex

https://www.oeticket.com/event/13877607/

12 Feb – Budapest, HU – A38

https://www.a38.hu/hu/program/haken-uk-invasion-2022-tour

14 Feb – Zurich, CH – Mascotte

https://www.ticketmaster.ch/artist/haken-tickets/897388

15 Feb – Roncade, IT – New Age

http://www.vertigo.co.it/it/haken

6 Feb – Milan, IT – Alcatraz

http://www.vertigo.co.it/it/haken 

17 Feb – Lyon, FR – Transbordeur

https://www.gdp.fr/fr_FR/artistes/haken

18 Feb – Barcelona, ES – Salamandra

https://www.madnesslive.es/es/inicio/752-haken-barcelona.html

19 Feb – Madrid, ES – Shoko

https://www.madnesslive.es/es/inicio/753-haken-madrid.html

21 Feb – Toulouse, FR – Connexion Live

https://www.gdp.fr/fr_FR/artistes/haken

22 Feb – Nantes, FR – Ferrailleur

https://www.gdp.fr/fr_FR/artistes/haken

23 Feb – Paris, FR – Alhambra

https://www.gdp.fr/fr_FR/artistes/haken

24 Feb – Manchester, UK – Academy 2

https://myticket.co.uk/artists/haken

25 Feb – Glasgow, UK – Saint Luke’s

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/36005ADC8DC11CC8

27 Feb – London, UK – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

https://myticket.co.uk/artists/haken

Released in 2020, Haken’s most recent album ‘Virus’ is the culmination of a musical thought experiment which started with 2018’s ‘Vector’.  Ross Jennings explains, “whilst ‘Virus’ can absolutely be enjoyed as a stand-alone work, it is thematically and conceptually linked with ‘Vector’, so our intention is to perform both albums back-to-back for a special performance someday”. 

‘Virus’ is available here: https://haken.lnk.to/Virus

You can watch the videos for the singles here: 

Invasion: https://youtu.be/2Rkx6b5vFdQ

Canary Yellow: https://youtu.be/KJQy1Waj_cY

Prosthetic: https://youtu.be/4EmbYo65Pbs

Captured at SECC on 09December,2019 by Max Taylor Grant

Haken launch video for ‘Invasion’/ third single from ‘Virus’

Progressive rockers Haken are pleased to launch the video for their new single ‘Invasion’, the third track taken from their forthcoming new album ‘Virus’. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the label and bands control, the release date for the album has had to be postponed to the 19th June 2020.

The band comment: “Lyrically, Invasion deals with themes including but not limited to anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. We thought that the discussion of a “Virus of the mind” tied in well to the psychological themes touched upon in the sister record ‘Vector’ and lent itself to the character development of Virus’s manic protagonist.” 

The new video for ‘Invasion’ was created by Crystal Spotlight, who also produced the video for ‘Canary Yellow’. Watch it now here: 

Since releasing ‘Vector’ in October 2018, Haken have completed headline tours the world over, played sold-out shows across Europe and North America as support for Devin Townsend and picked up a Prog award for their efforts too! All the while, they have been quietly, secretly working on the follow-up album, entitled ‘Virus’. 

Drummer Ray Hearne reveals, “since releasing ‘The Mountain’ in 2013, one question has been asked of us time and time again, ‘who is the Cockroach King?’. This is something we were interested in exploring more deeply too, so we essentially did that through our music; elaborating and expanding upon the intervallic, harmonic, rhythmic and lyrical themes of that song. The end result is in an arc which spans across two albums: ‘Vector’ and ‘Virus’”.

Once again, Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood has mixed what is perhaps the most eclectic Haken album to date, with the 7 tracks revealing hints of influences from multiple genres, all intertwined with Haken’s own recognisable sound. Guitarist Richard Henshall had this to say about the production, “Using Nolly again was a no-brainer, as we wanted the two albums to be sonically connected. But having just spent a day mixing with him in his studio, it’s obvious that this album will be an evolution of the ‘Vector’ sound. These songs seem to allow a lot more freedom of creativity with the production, so we’re excited to see where it leads”.

Longtime Haken collaborators, Blacklake, have designed the visuals and artwork and the album will be available as a Limited 2CD, Standard CD, Gatefold 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. Pre-order now here: https://haken.lnk.to/Virus

The track-listing is as follows:

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

‘Virus’ is the culmination of a musical thought experiment which started with the ‘Vector’ writing sessions in 2017 and holds intriguing potential for the band’s future, as vocalist Ross Jennings explains, “whilst ‘Virus’ can absolutely be enjoyed as a stand-alone work, it is thematically and conceptually linked with ‘Vector’, so our intention is to perform both albums back to back for a special performance someday”.

HAKEN are:

Ross Jennings

Richard Henshall

Charlie Griffiths

Diego Tejeida

Conner Green

Ray Hearne

Haken announce new album ‘Virus’ / Launch first single ‘Prosthetic’

Progressive rockers Haken are excited to reveal their new studio album ‘Virus’, the follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed album ‘Vector’, will be released 5th June 2020. By way of introduction, the band have recorded a special video message to give some background to the record: 

Today also sees the launch of the album’s first single and opening track ‘Prosthetic’, with a video directed by Vicente Cordero. Watch & listen to this punchy opening salvo here: 

The band comments: “Prosthetic was the first song we completed during the ‘Virus’ writing sessions and we always felt it would be the perfect opener for the album. It’s a very guitar heavy track with its roots in 80s thrash riffing, but with the unconventional rhythmic twists and turns we often like to explore in Haken. We sadly never had a Jeff Hanneman and Robert Fripp collaboration, but this song at least draws on inspiration from them both!

Lyrically the song is a bridge between our two albums Vector and Virus. The message was brilliantly brought to life by video director Vicente Cordero, who also beautifully captured the live energy of the band in a way that both enhances the song, and perfectly sets the scene for what’s to come.” 

Since releasing ‘Vector’ in October 2018, Haken have completed headline tours the world over, played sold-out shows across Europe and North America as support for Devin Townsend and picked up a Prog award for their efforts too! All the while, they have been quietly, secretly working on the follow-up album, entitled ‘Virus’.

Drummer Ray Hearne reveals, “since releasing ‘The Mountain’ in 2013, one question has been asked of us time and time again, ‘who is the Cockroach King?’. This is something we were interested in exploring more deeply too, so we essentially did that through our music; elaborating and expanding upon the intervallic, harmonic, rhythmic and lyrical themes of that song. The end result is in an arc which spans across two albums: ‘Vector’ and ‘Virus’”. 

Once again, Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood has mixed what is perhaps the most eclectic Haken album to date, with the 7 tracks revealing hints of influences from multiple genres, all intertwined with Haken’s own recognisable sound. Guitarist Richard Henshall had this to say about the production, “Using Nolly again was a no-brainer, as we wanted the two albums to be sonically connected. But having just spent a day mixing with him in his studio, it’s obvious that this album will be an evolution of the ‘Vector’ sound. These songs seem to allow a lot more freedom of creativity with the production, so we’re excited to see where it leads”.

Longtime Haken collaborators, Blacklake, have designed the visuals and artwork and the album will be available as a Limited 2CD, Standard CD, Gatefold 2LP + CD & as Digital Album. Pre-order now here: https://haken.lnk.to/Virus

The track-listing is as follows:

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

‘Virus’ is the culmination of a musical thought experiment which started with the ‘Vector’ writing sessions in 2017 and holds intriguing potential for the band’s future, as vocalist Ross Jennings explains, “whilst ‘Virus’ can absolutely be enjoyed as a stand-alone work, it is thematically and conceptually linked with ‘Vector’, so our intention is to perform both albums back to back for a special performance someday”. 

HAKEN are:

Ross Jennings

Richard Henshall

Charlie Griffiths

Diego Tejeida

Conner Green

Ray Hearne

Review – Haken – Vector – by James R. Turner

I was a little torn when I read the press about this album and heard on the grapevine that it was a return to the heavier sound of the band, and a step away from the more electronic influences that permeated the marvellous ‘Affinity’ album. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it as much as ‘Affinity’ and its corresponding tour, I wondered if it would be a step backwards for the band and veer off into prog metal territory. My attitude to that genre (which seems such a misnomer, and lumps so many disparate and diverse bands together in such a narrow band to be almost meaningless) is indifferent at best. Bands like Dream Theater, Anathema and Opeth have drifted into my hearing but passed me by, and if I get a CD with ‘tramp shouting down a megaphone into a dustbin’ alleged vocals then off it goes and never gets listened to again.

Luckily for me, and you, I listened to the album and didn’t just take the blurb at face value. Yes whilst it’s heavier, it is a distinct evolution of the Haken sound, taking the best parts of their last albums and including more of the electronic elements to their sonic template, creating an album that sits on the right side of heavy. Of course, as any fule kno’, Haken have a wonderful vocalist in the form of Ross Jennings who can sing, and has a superb voice, perfect for the light and the soft that peppers their sound.

Another arsenal in their sound is the harmony vocals provided by all 5 of the other members, which is a rarity in many bands, especially bands operating in the heavier sector, and this also sets them apart. It also helps they are bloody good musicians, who manage to capture their live essence on record, and having seen them on the last tour they are amazing live, loud and complex, but amazing.

Again, on this record there is plenty of ability on show but it’s not one of those guitar wankery albums you get where it’s all skill and no soul. ‘Vector’ is chock full of emotion and soul, and is superb evolution of their sound from ‘Affinity’, true musical progression in the original dictionary definition of the word.

Across these seven tracks Haken wring out every ounce of emotion from their performance and put together a sublime album in doing so.

Tracks like The Good Doctor and, my personal favourite, Puzzle Box incorporate more of the electronic and keyboard sounds that hung over from Affinity whilst not losing any of their power. Diego Tejeda and Richard Henshall put together a formidable onslaught, whilst Henshall and Charles Griffiths on guitar remind me of that other fantastic musical duo of Matt Stevens and Steve Cleaton from TFATD, both pairings are guitarists with plenty of skill and the intuitive ability to bounce off each other, but more, much more than that, they play with heart and soul. That is what so many technical shredders are missing, the best music has soul and emotion and without that you’ve got nothing.

Veil is the centrepiece to this album and it is epic, a real masterclass in how to mix light and shade. The way Haken go about things, with their sound anchored by bassist Conner Green and drummer Raymond Hearne, remind me very much of Iron Maiden in their ethos. A band who are not afraid to rock out and turn it up where necessary but how have both the skill and the ambition to tackle the big concepts and pull them off in style.

In fact, across this album there’s no bad track, some wonderful symphonic sounds on A Cell Divides, the opener Clear and the brilliantly enigmatic The Good Doctor, all of which set the pace and the tone of the album, and the overriding concept, which has elements of psychoanalysis and deeper meanings to the title.

The band themselves say there’s a concept, but the meanings are there to be deciphered by the fans, unwrapping the Puzzle box if you like. However you see it though, you cannot deny that Haken are one of the most interesting and exciting bands currently making music and, as for where they sit genre wise, who cares?

They have made a sublime album that takes the building blocks from their previous albums, with nods right back to the debut, and still manage to push their sound on and create something that is new, that is vibrant and that is nothing other than what it is.

What a joy to be able to write about bands like Haken on today’s scene.

Released 26th October 2018

Order the album from the link here

 

 

Review – Haken L-1VE – by James R Turner

 

Haken released their rather special ‘Affinity’ album back in 2016 and followed it up with a celebratory 10th anniversary European tour which, unsurprisingly, focused on that electro inspired album and its predecessor, the album that made their name, ‘The Mountain’.

Now, in the best tradition of all bands, they have decided to release their first live album, and what a package it is for fans.

Not only do we get a double disc live set taken from their gig in Amsterdam last year, but we also get the full set on DVD, complete with a 2nd DVD of their 4-song set at ProgPower USA in 2016 and the official music videos for Initiate, Earthrise and Lapse.

For anyone who was on that tour (and I was) this is a wonderful memento, and for those who weren’t lucky enough to be there, well, let me tell you more.

Its good to see Haken releasing their first live album as I get incredibly bored with bands getting on the album, tour, live album treadmill, especially where (particularly with the bigger bands) the set lists are written in tablets of stone and, much like dinosaur remains, are very much museum pieces. The key to a great live record (like ‘Wings Over America’, Wishbone Ash’s ‘Live Dates’ or ‘Field Recordings’ by The Fierce and the Dead) is its scarcity, and its immediacy. No-one wants to see a concert where the band duplicates their album sound live on stage with no spontaneity or the feeling that you are living in the moment, and no-one wants to buy a live album from a gig that sounds like the studio recordings, that’s the ultimate example of irrelevance. If you keep releasing live albums you lose your audience and Haken, wisely, have chosen a moment when they have a breadth and depth of songs to chose from and a moment in time when they are currently an energetic and enthusiastic live band with a lot of presence and charisma.

The current line-up of Ross Jennings (vocals) who works the stage like a frontman should which, added to the powerhouse drumming of Raymond Hearne and driving bass of Conner Green, puts that bedrock together to give Richard Henshall’s & Charles Griffiths guitars room to stretch. The keys of Diego Tejeida round it out and it’s the electronic sound that helps make the ‘Affinity’ material so strong on stage.

This taut and assured performance is reflected throughout this record. One of the treats for those of us who love the longer songs is Aquamedley, 22 minutes of the tracks from their debut album ‘Aquarius’, reworked and forming an integral part of the set.

That is what a live show, and album, should be all about, all eras are covered, with a rousing version of Visions closing the record. As previously stated, ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Affinity’ make up the bulk of the tracks, as songs like 1985, Affintiy.exe/Initiate and epic The Architect get a good work out, making their their mark on the bands set.

The only minor issue I have with Haken at this juncture of their career is that they seem to have their feet in a number of camps, neither being full blown prog, prog-metal or sitting in the electronic arena that ‘Affinity’ introduced to their sound. I would like to see them pick a direction (preferably the electronic sound) and move more cohesively towards it, but that’s my opinion, and it doesn’t detract from what is an excellently produced and sublimely performed live show.

With the superb bonus material on the second DVD, and the videos from their excellent Affinity album, this is a fantastic snapshot of where Haken are now, and of what a powerful and confident band they have become.

If they continue down this road, and hone their sound following the electronic influences of ‘Affinity’ they could be well positioned to be one of the defining bands of the new era.

Released 22nd June 2018

Order the album from Burning Shed here

 

Review – Haken – Affinity – by Shawn Dudley

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I’ve been living with this new Haken album for a couple of weeks now, attempting to wrap my head around it. Each time I think I’ve got it figured out some new detail jumps out at me that requires me to reevaluate. Like the band themselves,  ‘Affinity’ remains wonderfully elusive and that just makes me appreciate it more.

Haken have been an enjoyable enigma from the very beginning.  Over the course of four impressive full-length studio albums they have remained defiantly hard to categorize. The proverbial square peg. You can sit down and catalog all the elements, you can ascertain their stylistic influences, you can dissect and study their compositions but any attempt to accurately file them away into pre-existing little boxes? Futile. The only box they fit into is the one labeled, Haken.

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Opening single Initiate sways back and forth from driving and propulsive to ethereal and contemplative with the always-impressive voice of Ross Jennings guiding the way. The arrangement seems deceptively simple on the surface, but there is a wealth of detail here that becomes more apparent on repeated listens (this holds true for the entire album). The heavier guitars don’t make an appearance until over 2 minutes into the track and provide a visceral edge to what is otherwise a primarily keyboard-driven, clean-toned arrangement. This concise 4-minute track serves as the appetizer for the full-course buffet that follows.

At the center of  ‘Affinity’ are two equally impressive if stylistically diverse epics.

The first of these is the appropriately named 1985. On their prior album ‘The Mountain’ from 2013 a lot of discussion was spurred by their incorporation of “retro” instrumental sounds from the 70s, particularly in the infectious single Cockroach King, which wore the influence of Gentle Giant proudly upon its sleeve. This time out we move forward a decade to the digital 1980s. 1985 conjures up memories of the birth of personal computers, 8-bit video games, boom boxes, MTV and just about every keyboard sound and 80s production element introduced during the first half of the decade. In the press release the band mentions their love of albums like ‘90125’, ‘Toto IV’ and ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ (and even though Rush isn’t specifically mentioned their early 80s albums are an obvious inspiration as well).

To their credit, Haken takes these elements and instead of creating a pastiche, they expertly incorporate them into their signature sound. They are just additional colors in an ever-expanding palette. Their ability to liberally borrow sounds from different eras and styles has been apparent since their debut album ‘Aquarius’, but with each successive release it has become more organic in structure and more assured in execution. This maturity has also carried over into the recording studio, ‘Affinity’ is a quantum leap forward in production and sound design, showing that Haken is just as adept at “playing the studio” as they are at their individual instruments. On most albums a track as impressive as 1985 would be the clear highlight…but ‘Affinity’ has more riches to offer……

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The second epic is the main course of our buffet and would also serve as an impressive introduction for the uninitiated. By far the heaviest track on the album The Architect is an absolute stunner, a 15-minute tour de force of the power and diversity this band can conjure.

Roughly split into separate movements it begins in muscular technical prog-metal territory, but this isn’t your typical paint-by-numbers variety, this is exciting, driving, heavy music played with passion. The mid-section is absolutely gorgeous, an ambient pad of voices and sound effects provide the backdrop for new bassist Connor Green to take a lyrical, fusion-inspired solo and then the guitars enter playing a gorgeous contrapuntal figure that harkens back to the sound of ‘Discipline’-era King Crimson. The following section increases the intensity with a side-trip into Opeth/Enslaved territory (the melody in this section is reminiscent of The Drapery Falls) and a guest appearance from Einar Solberg from Leprous providing a brief harsh-vocal contribution. It’s an immense arrangement and an impressive achievement.

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While these tracks demonstrate the further refinement of the Haken elements we’ve come to know, I think the most exciting aspects of ‘Affinity’ show the band moving forward and expanding their sound into uncharted territory. Tracks like the lovely Lapse and the outward-leaning experimentation of Red Giant are thrilling, thoroughly modern compositions that point the way toward exciting chapters yet to come. They show an increased interest in electronic sounds and atmospherics, yet never venture into cold/clinical territory, remaining warm and inviting throughout.

I have to throw out a special mention to the wonderful mix by Jens Bogren who first came to my attention because of his excellent work with Opeth. His mixes sound HUGE, incredibly powerful without sacrificing any of the intricate detail and that made him the perfect choice for ‘Affinity’.

Easily their most impressive album, ‘Affinity’ solidifies Haken as one of the best bands that modern Prog has to offer and their potential for the future appears limitless.

Released 29th April 2016

Pre-order ‘Affinity’ from Burning Shed

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