Haken Announce New Album

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 June 5th, 2020. By way of introduction, the band have recorded a special video message to give some background to the record: https://youtu.be/_XMWVUQ93io

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: https://youtu.be/4EmbYo65Pbs

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 Jenning
Richard Henshall
Charlie Griffiths
Diego Tejeida
Conner Green
Ray Hearne

 

INSIDEOUTMUSIC Spotify Playlists:
Best of Haken – InsideOutEssentials
Prog Rock Essential
Prog Metal Essential

Brad Birzer and Dave Bandana Talk The Bardic Depths… With Each Other

The wonderful Brad Birzer just interviewed his bandmate Dave Bandana to discuss Dave’s background and their new album, The Bardic Depths. The interview doubles as their first time talking to each other “face-to-face” via video chat. This is their third collaboration, and they’ve only interacted by email before this. What an amazing era in which we live… minus the plague of course.

The Bardic Depths is a brilliant album – one you need to listen to. Check out my review and Rick Krueger’s review.

The Bardic Depths – A Prescient Album

The Bardic DepthsThe Bardic Depths, The Bardic Depths, 2020 (Gravity Dream)

Tracks: The Trenches (8:36), Biting Coals (7:50), Depths of Time (12:35), Depths of Imagination (5:01), Depths of Soul (6:40), The End (7:38), Legacies (9:28)

Longtime readers of Progarchy are well aware that just about everything written by Dr. Bradley J. Birzer is brilliant. The previous two album collaborations between Brad and Dave Bandana, 2017’s Becoming One and 2018’s Of Course It Must Be, were both great. I noticed strong strides forward in the second album, and I hear a huge leap forward in this third collaboration in the form of a more formal band called The Bardic Depths.

Birzer still handles the lyrical output and Bandana acts as the musical director, but Dave Bandana and Brad Birzerthe cast of characters has broadened greatly. Cosmograf maestro Robin Armstrong realized the brilliance in the demos and decided to both mix the album and make it the first release on his new record label, Gravity Dream. Along the way Bandana began asking people here and there to contribute to the album, and before he knew it a more refined sound had emerged. The Big Big Train facebook group became a means of connection for Bandana and the extraordinary Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales, Red Bazar, Camel). Jones contributed a couple soulful and beautiful saxophone solos. Gareth Cole and Robin Armstrong contribute some blistering guitar solos, and a host of other talented people contribute their musicianship and vocal talents (including spoken word). Sir Brad himself makes multiple appearances with the spoken word. Having had the fortune of taking one of his courses when I was in college, I can tell you he was blessed with a fantastic speaking voice, second to only Dr. Tom Conner in the Hillsdale College History Department.


Continue reading “The Bardic Depths – A Prescient Album”

Big Big Train Release “Passengers Club” and Announce North America Live Dates

Big Big Train have just announced a new members-only club called the Passengers Club. From the band:

Membership of the Passengers Club will give listeners a chance to get behind the scenes in the world of Big Big Train. Club members will be able to hear early demos from the writing and recording stages of our studio releases and demos of songs that got lost along the way, including some tracks from an abandoned concept album that we were working on a few years ago. There will be films of us backstage, recording in the studio, and during rehearsals and soundchecks. There will also be exclusive photo galleries, blog posts, Facebook Q and As, and other good things.

Membership of the Passengers Club costs £30 for one year, or £50 for two years.

Full details of how to sign up, what is on offer, and our reasons for starting the Passengers Club can be found at https://thepassengersclub.com.

They also announced some live dates for the United States and Canada:

• Saturday 9 May – Rosfest, Opera House, Sarasota, Florida, USA (festival headline show)
• Monday 11 May – Opera House, Toronto, Canada *
• Tuesday 12 May – Corona Theatre, Montreal, Canada *
• Wednesday 13 May – Théâtre de la Cité Universitaire, Quebec City, Canada *
• Sunday 17 May – Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook, New Jersey, USA *
• Saturday 23rd May – Sweetwater Performance Pavilion, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA **
• Thursday 16 July – Friars, Aylesbury, UK ***
• Saturday 18 July – Ramblin’ Man Festival, Kent, UK (festival headline show)
• Monday 20 July – Stadstheater, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands **
• Tuesday 21 July – Lichtburg, Essen, Germany **
• Thursday 23 July – Konzerthaus, Karlsruhe, Germany **
• Friday 24th July – Phenomenon, Fontaneto D’Agogna, Milan, Italy **

* Supported by IZZ
** Supported by Robert Berry’s 3.2
*** Supported by Lazuli

All shows will feature the full 12-piece BBT live band.


Progarchy’s co-founder and former editor, Brad Birzer, and Progarchist Tad Wert have released an ebook about Big Big Train called Big Big Train: A Dream of the West. Yours truly and Progarchist Alison Reijman contributed chapters. Get it at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Big-Train-Dream-West-ebook/dp/B084QF79GK/ref=zg_bs_156354011_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5NSMTTWKFH5CJZT8NDBV.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, Prog Group Thematic to Release New Album

Fort Wayne, Indiana, based prog band Thematic is set to release their new album, Skyrunner, on January 31. I was previously unaware of this group, but I must say the single from the album is quite good. They have a good balance of the classic styling combined with the crunch of a band like Haken. Check out the video below and more info about the band and new album after that.

Continue reading “Fort Wayne, Indiana, Prog Group Thematic to Release New Album”

Mini Review Round-Up – Frédéric L’Épée, Intelligent Music Project, and Cabinets of Curiosity

2019 was a busy year for me, and unfortunately I never got around to reviewing these physical submissions to Progarchy. Things have slowed a bit, so here you go – three solid albums of very different sounds.

Fédéric L’Épée, The Empty Room, 2019
Tracks: 
Badong (07:00), Inévitable traversée (04:23), Descending the Slow River (06:28), Amour et dissolution (03:32), Delta (08:22), Hymne aux Ancêtres 1 (03:15), Treasured Wounds (06:47), Mist (04:50), Parle-moi encore (06:40), Souvenirs de Traversée (05:44), Hymne aux Ancêtres 2. (02:04), Wegschippernd (01:03)

This album was a bit of a pleasant surprise for me. I had no idea what to expect. It is an instrumental album, but it isn’t like your typical instrumental prog album. It is quite unlike anything I’ve heard before. It is very cinematic. The music tells its own story in a remarkably compelling way. Monsieur L’Épée is obviously a master of his craft.

A French composer and guitarist living in Berlin, Fédéric L’Épée has been in the band Shylock, Philharmonie, and Yang. His musical influences are diverse, which becomes pretty obvious once you start listening to The Empty Room.

This album manages to be peaceful without being boring. I’d say this is one of the most interesting instrumental albums I’ve heard in a long time. The interplay of the guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards is simply stunning. The guitar tone is clean and pleasant. The solo on “Inévitable traversée” is quite nice. “Descending the Slow River” is a bit of a slower piece that may drag a little bit, but, like the other songs, it tells a story through the music. You get a sense of a slowly flowing river through the way the instruments are played.

Continue reading “Mini Review Round-Up – Frédéric L’Épée, Intelligent Music Project, and Cabinets of Curiosity”

Neil Peart: A Misfit’s Hero

I’m still reeling from the news that Neil Peart is dead. I’m sure you all are too. None of us expected this. I think we all held out a glimmer of hope that Rush would play another show now and then or come out with another album without a tour. I certainly never imagined in 2015 that Peart would be dead within five years. My heart truly goes out to his wife, daughter, Geddy, and Alex.

This isn’t an obituary. Many others know the details of Peart’s life far more than I do, and I’ll direct you towards them for those kinds of remembrances. Instead, my thoughts on Peart and Rush are deeply personal. There is nothing unique about my experiences with Rush. I know for a fact that others, possibly thousands or millions, have had similar experiences. But this is mine.

Continue reading “Neil Peart: A Misfit’s Hero”