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

 

 

HAKEN announce fifth studio album ‘Vector’; launch fan etching competition

HAKEN, one of progressive music’s most exciting bands, have announced details of their much-anticipated fifth studio album titled ‘Vector’, due for release on the October 26th, 2018. The album was produced by the band themselves, and recorded & mixed by Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood (Periphery, Devin Townsend Project), with the artwork once again being handled by Blacklake.

The band comments: “On the back of celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our conception, all of us here in the Haken camp are extremely excited to begin this new chapter of our career and share ‘Vector’ with the world.”

The album will be available as Limited edition 2CD Digipak (including instrumental versions), Gatefold vinyl 2LP + CD, & as digital download. You can find the track-listing below:

1.     Clear
2.     The Good Doctor
3.     Puzzle Box
4.     Veil
5.     Nil By Mouth
6.     Host
7.     A Cell Divides

To celebrate the announcement of the new album, the band are opening up a unique opportunity for one fan’s artwork to be used as the etching on the fourth side of the vinyl LP version of the record. Haken are inviting fans to submit their own version of the Rorschach test ink-blot image which graces the album’s cover, and one winner’s art will be picked by the band to be etched into every vinyl copy of Vector.

Submissions are open now, closing on the 10th August, and can be sent to: drrex@hakenmusic.com

Since their inception in 2007, Haken have shown over four previous studio albums, one EP and a live release that they never stand still, merely satisfied to rely on past triumphs. Rather, Haken always look for ways to challenge themselves as musicians and artists, and also to keep the listeners on their collective toes. “We don’t like to make simple music,” laughs vocalist Ross Jennings. “We always aim to defy expectations, and I believe we’ve surpassed what we aimed to achieve with our new album.”

Their fifth studio record sees the band going in a heavier direction with the music. “We’ve always had a heavy influence”, explains guitarist Charlie Griffiths, “but it was obvious from the riffs that were naturally coming out of us early in the writing process that this would be a more metal album. These are some of the most riff driven songs we’ve ever written.” As is usual, Haken produced the album themselves, but for the first time they have enlisted Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood during the recording and mixing stages. Formerly bassist with Periphery, in the last couple of years he has built a reputation as a fine producer. “We produced the album ourselves, as we always do,” insists Jennings. “But we’re fans of what Adam has done with Periphery, Sikth and Devin Townsend. He has a great reputation for the heavier end of our genre”.

But if this album is musically heavy, then there’s an underlying theme running through the seven songs which is certainly esoteric and fascinating. “The scene is set with the track The Good Doctor, which was a really fun song. Musically it feels like a logical step from ‘Affinity’, but lyrically it’s a bit more theatrical and about as ‘rock opera’ as Haken has ever got”, explains Griffiths. “It’s about a Doctor with an intriguing, perhaps sinister interest in a particular patient. From there the story enters the point-of-view of the patient – who appears to be catatonic, but his mind is sparking with what could be memories, or delusions brought on by the treatment he’s receiving – we leave this up to the listeners to decide. Although we don’t want to give too much away, people who are familiar with our back catalogue will have fun discovering further clues we’ve planted throughout the album. And that’s the challenge for the fans – to find out for themselves their own meaning for ‘Vector’ as an album”.