[ SHORT REVIEWS - LIST | DETAILED REVIEWS
(44:41, Inside Out Music)
For some reason or another I lost touch with what Haken were doing over recently, and while they are now back with their fifth studio album, the last of theirs I heard was the third, 2013’s ‘The Mountain’. Now, I gave that top marks and said it was my progressive album of the year, so what would I think some six years down the track? They have always been a heavy act, but this sees them take it into a whole new area, as if Meshuggah have decided to add polish, finesse, and keyboards. It may smooth the edges, but there is no doubt that this is a metallic beast of an album “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.” But, there are times when there is gentle piano, delicate harmony vocals, as if those nasty horrible loud guitars have gone away forever, but it is all just a ploy to get the listener to let down their guard. There again, how many metal bands can be riffing like mad but then have a flugelhorn over the top? Musically the album is a mess, all over the place, and is all the better for it. If that isn’t enough, there is also an underlying theme to make it even more prog! “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, listeners who are familiar with our back catalogue will have fun discovering further clues we’ve planted throughout the album”. Although this an awesome album I would prefer if the guitars had been allowed to keep more of their edge and not be polished away quite so much. I am sure that Haken in a live environment will much more of a bruising experience than it is on record. It is going to be interesting to see where they go next on their musical journey, as while they also add in Linkin Park influences, this British act are determined to go their own way and create something metallic and progressive on their own terms.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]