Latest in Prog: Haken and Muse Release New Music Videos

Haken just released a music video for new song “The Good Doctor” off upcoming album, Vector. If this song is anything to go by, Vector will be another re-styling of Haken’s unique sound. This particular song sees the band go from Muse-like sounds to Meshuggah-esque blasts, all in about 3 minutes. The result is obviously 100% Haken.

Speaking of Muse… they also have an album coming out later this year: Simulation Theory. They have released several music videos so far, and it seems like the band have moved in a more synth-pop direction, especially compared to the hard-rock bombast of 2015’s Drones. The guitar seems especially lacking in this most recent song:

Haken’s new album Vector out on Oct 26

Is it heresy for me to be enjoying Haken’s new live album — L-1VE — more than any other live album released this year, including BBT’s Merchants of Light?

In any case, I am looking forward to Haken’s forthcoming new release, and the tour with Bent Knee and Leprous, more than any other this year.

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Vector will be available as a limited edition 2CD mediabook (including instrumental versions), a gatefold vinyl 2LP + CD, a standard CD jewelcase & as a digital download.

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

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 Aug. 10, and can be sent to: drrex@hakenmusic.com

Three Of The Best Touring Soon

l-1ve_cover

Lucky US residents can look forward to an incredible line-up of bands touring this fall. Co-headliners are Haken, showcasing Album No. 5, and the mighty Leprous. Supporting them are the magnificent Bent Knee, whose Land Animal was my top album of 2017.

Take it from me, you will NOT want to miss this!

Further details, including dates and venues for all 28 gigs, are at https://www.loudersound.com/news/haken-finish-album-no5-and-announce-co-headline-tour-with-leprous

Haken, L-1ve: Rick’s Quick Takes

In a word: YOWZAH!!

From the brooding opening of “affinity.exe/Initiate” to the concluding tour de force of “Visions,” Haken went for it at the Amsterdam stop of their 10th anniversary tour –and they got something special.  If anything, L-1ve is even more ecstatic and energetic than the band’s stunning studio albums The Mountain and Affinity — the unique mix of prog and metal, head-spinning vocal counterpoint and harmony coalesces into an breathtaking, unstoppable unity.  To my ears, it’s Haken’s ultimate statement of their mandate: strong melodies and killer riffs indeed.

Every member of the band is in sync and on point here.  Richard Henshall and Raymond Hearne are relentless on guitar, never letting up on the impressive sonic barrage; Diego Tejeida is smooth and versatile on keyboards, laying down classical piano lyricism, rich orchestral grandiosity or virtuoso organ/synth licks as the situation requires; bassist Conner Green and drummer Raymond Hearne navigate the twists and turns with confidence, pushing the band forward with precision and power.  And then there’s Ross Jennings, riding the wave of the music’s complexities and smash cuts with death metal growls, soaring choruses, a gorgeous, wordless falsetto and heartwarming, enthusiastic frontman banter.

Haken never flags throughout L-1ve, plowing through more than half of Affinity, a condensed medley from Aquarius and core tracks from The Mountain (including an audience singalong on “Cockroach King” — props, Amsterdam!) with undiminished verve and commitment.   If anything, they get stronger and more thrilling as they go; when the title track from Visions closes down the main set, it left me as hungry for more as the crowd at the Melkweg.  Fortunately, the DVD includes four more tracks from Haken’s 2016 ProgPower set in Atlanta (featuring Mike Portnoy on gong?  Well, he does seem to be everywhere …)

In a sentence: you don’t want to miss L1ve.  If you haven’t heard Haken, you don’t know what you’re missing; if you have, this is even better than you think it might be.

Or, in a word: YOWZAH!!!

L1ve is released worldwide by InsideOutMusic on Friday, June 22.

— Rick Krueger

A Little Haken Goes a Long Way

The last few days have been rough. Grad school. Internship applications. Living in a city. Yuck. For as much as I love being fully informed, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to jump in my 33 year old car and drive until I’m miles away from the nearest person. (Here‘s somebody who just about did that – one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read.)

Whilst wallowing in this state of mind, a gathering of angels appeared above my head… and they were playing Haken, who seemed to be echoing my very thoughts. This is what they said:

Eyes open wide as I awake
I sense no change within the air
Hope leaves my soul, I paralyse

This world of pain and suffering
Creeps into me and once again
I mourn the loss of innocence

If I could run away
Back to my innocent days

Someone’s calling me
Echoes of a childhood memory
Someone’s calling me
Echoes of a childhood memory

Passages of time
Buried in the chaos of my mind
Chronicles of life
Concealing a truth I left behind

Passages of time
Buried in the chaos of my mind
Chronicles of life
Concealing a truth I can’t deny

Moon begins to rise
Reflecting on a life once sanctified
Night begins to fall
Voices of my youth, immutable

Memories collide
My scattered soul is almost unified
Thoughts are in full flight
Enveloping a wisdom earned with time

Passages of time
Stripping back the layers of my mind
Chronicles of life
Unraveling a truth which I must find

Haken really doesn’t get enough credit for the brilliance of their lyrics. They aren’t obvious, but they are glorious. I always find something new in them. The above lyrics are from their song, “Crystallised.” This song is one of the best prog metal songs in the genre. Haken always seem to lift my spirits. They end the song with nothing but hope and joy:

I have returned
To the springtime in the garden
Seeds are sown, flowers grow
And the child is born again

Filled with delight
And the laughter is contagious
As we dance, as we sing
Celebrating ’til the end

Joy and respite
On the faces of the children
With a smile, realise
That their love will never end

I have received
Affirmation of the spirit
Falling snow takes me home
And the man is whole again

Mind open wide as I awake
I sense a change within myself
Hope feeds my soul I realise

I feel the earth under my feet
Son by my side, I am complete
Pride fills my heart in Paradise

Hearts open wide as I awake
I sense a change within myself
Love feeds my soul I realise

This world of pain and suffering
Ignites in me and once again
Sparks the rebirth of innocence

If I could run away
I’d choose to live for today

Someone’s calling me
Echoes of a childhood memory

The moon will rise
The night will fall
I hold your hand
But you let go

The sun will shine
The snow will thaw
All things must pass
Into the unknown

Escaping the past by embracing the future
Escaping the past by embracing the future
Escaping the past by embracing the future
Escaping the past by embracing the future

It even has Mike Portnoy on the gong!

 

2016 – A Year of Joy and Sadness

To say 2016 was a turbulent year would be an understatement.  For good and bad, the events of 2016 are going to ripple for years, if not decades to come.

Fortunately, one area in which 2016 was not a turning point was in the trend of excellent prog releases, which kept coming without any letup from 2015 … or 2014 … or 2013 … you get the picture.  Like those years, 2016 saw a bumper crop of excellent releases, and in a few cases, saw bands hitting new highs.  Truly, this was one area where we can be unequivocally thankful for what 2016 brought.

Continue reading “2016 – A Year of Joy and Sadness”

Bryan’s Best of 2016

2016 has been a pretty horrible year: terrorism, deaths of way too many musical heroes, the recent loss of Prog magazine and the total screwing of all Team Rock employees, personal inability to find a job… Yeah, this year has sucked.

Thankfully, despite these trials, progressive rock has continued to be the most creative and innovative genre in the music business. I always enjoy writing a “best of” list, mainly because it gives me a chance to look over the best music of the year. We prog fans really are spoiled.

Like last year, my 2016 list will be pretty big, and the order is completely arbitrary. I have a numbered top 4, but my top 3 picks for this year are essentially tied for first place. Without further ado, my favorite albums of 2016:

Continue reading “Bryan’s Best of 2016”

What I Liked This Year

I wasn’t too adventurous in my listening this year – maybe because artists I’m already familiar with released so much good music that they kept me busy!

Here’s what I liked in 2016 in the world of prog:

Tales_from_Topographic_Oceans_(Yes_album)10. Yes: Tales From Topographic Oceans (Blu-ray ed.)

Technically not a 2016 release, but with Steven Wilson’s 5.1 mix, this is a new album to my ears. This has everything a Yes fan could ask for – versions of TFTO that include the original mix, a radio promo, a “needle-drop” vinyl transfer, an instrumental version, in addition to Wilson’s new mixes – literally hours of music. A sometimes maligned work gets its proper release, and it really shines.

 

The Mute Gods9. The Mute Gods: Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

I love Nick Beggs’ blend of 70s – era FM rock with snappy songwriting. Turns out he’s much more than one of the best bassists ever.

 

Continue reading “What I Liked This Year”

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016

Among the Progarchy editors, I happen to be the resident metalhead. So, on that basis, here is my list of the 10 best metal albums of the year. I have listened to them many times with the utmost enjoyment. They each have aspects that grab you right away, while other aspects must grow on you over time. In any event, they are all musical achievements of the highest quality, and I give them each my highest recommendation.

The albums below are listed in chronological order. As each month of the year went by, it was clear which album I was listening to the most and enjoying the most. So, on it went to my Top 10 Metal playlist. By November it was abundantly clear, simply from my daily listening habits, what my top 10 picks for the year are. So, here they are, but please note that I will also publish a supplementary “pure prog” Top 10 list later on this month. For now, here is the metal list.

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016



Megadeth — Dystopia
★★★★★



Holy Grail — Times of Pride and Peril
★★★★★



Haken — Affinity
★★★★★ Continue reading “The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016”

Album Review: Haken — Affinity ★★★★★ @InsideOutUSA @Haken_Official

With Affinity, Haken proves definitively that this band is in the upper echelon of musical talent. The album departs from what the band has usually done before, but whereas this would usually generate outrage and disappointment, Haken is not your usual band.

Instead of recycling their past glories and shoring up their dedicated fan base, Haken has boldly risked everything and created a unique, completely original musical offering. As if to demonstrate that every fibre of their being refuses mindless mimicry, Affinity deliberately chooses to mine musical inspiration from the 80s, but only in order to perform a kind of musical miracle: while referencing the past, it doesn’t repeat it; instead, it transforms it into a uniquely personal creative act.

The album opener, “Initiate,” gives minor clues that the album will be a fresh direction. But then “1985” follows fast on its on heels with a mind-blowing array of sonic references to the 80s, including unbelievably cool synth sounds harkening back to Peter Gabriel’s Security album (during the “map in hand / direction misaligned” section of “1985”).

Quite simply, “1985” is one of the greatest songs you will ever hear. It performs the feat of time travel back to 1985, creating an alternate universe where both Yes’ 90125 and Haken’s “1985” would be playing back-to-back on the same radio station. It is absolutely my favorite track on this album because everything about it, every twist and turn, is so incredibly satisfying. It manages to be both familiar and unexpected at the same time. I don’t know how the hell they did it! But it’s wonderful.

“Lapse” then gives the listener a chance to catch their breath, only to blindside them with the album’s 15:40 epic, “The Architect.” The complexity of this track means that it will take you longer to get into it, unlike the immediately accessible genius of “1985.” But the repeated listens will pay off big time as you acquire familiarity with the insanely great ambition of this ultimately successful track. My favorite parts are when Haken goes into King Crimson mode and does that time travel trick back to the 80s again for me.

Then comes “Earthrise” which is just a flat-out beautiful song, totally uplifting and inspirational, with a Sigur Ros-like “blast off to Mars now” vibe. From the beginning of the album to the end of “Earthrise,” 40 minutes have elapsed and the amazing richness of the music supplies you with more than enough mull over. For the longest time, I simply couldn’t listen any further, since I was overwhelmed by the sonic abundance of everything from “Initiate” to “Earthrise.”

But then after awhile I was able to add the last three tracks to my full listening experience of Affinity. “Red Giant,” “The Endless Knot,” and “Bound By Gravity” are all fantastic and full of delights. In total, they give you an extra 22 minus of music. But I still think of Affinity as one vinyl LP (everything up to “Earthrise”) plus one vinyl EP (the last three tracks). Sometimes I have time to listen to the LP; sometimes to both the LP and the EP. Either way, I consider it a testament to Haken’s retro-transmogrifying brilliance that they have me thinking with my 1980s brain in the very terms of vinyl time-logic!

If I had to register any complaint, it would only be with the record company’s idea of having a CD release of two discs: one CD containing the regular version of Affinity, another CD with instrumental-only tracks. Who the hell would ever want to listen to instrumental-only tracks? The people who do karaoke aren’t doing it to Haken, so I just do not see the point. For me, because the vocals and lyrics on this album are such soaring perfection, I consider it a desecration to remove them.

A better idea would be for the record company to include a 40-minute version copy of the album (everything up to “Earthrise”) on a second CD that looks like a mini vinyl record, to give away to friends. Then that friend would eventually be inspired to buy their own version, to get the full 60+ minutes experience, and to give away the smaller version to another friend, and so on. That would make so much more sense than having a wasteful second disc that you will only listen to once or twice at most. This second CD could even have a picture of a 3.5 floppy disc on it. And the CD case itself for both discs could be made to look like a 5.25 floppy disc. Okay, I will stop now with the crazy ideas from my 80s brain! But again, I credit Haken for causing my mind to time travel in such a joyful manner.

This stunning album is one of the best of the year. See you back in 1985, dudes! Back to the future. Five stars.