Do you have a high affinity to prog? Since the release of their magnus Opus The Mountain in 2013, Haken is no longer a secret hint in the community of modern progressive metal. After touring with bands like Between The Buried And Me & Leprous, the UK formation became one of the bigger names in festivals such as the Hellfest, Euroblast etc.. With being a band for over 8 years now, the band released their fourth record entitled Affinity via InsideOut on April 29th.
Starting with a small intro, the first song „Initiate“ starts to play. This song is more of a progressive rock song with a catchy chorus that somehow reminds of a mix between Norwegian outfit Port Noir and Icelandic act Agent Fresco. Led by the incredible voice of singer Ross Jennings, this song instantly digs some earwigs and has potential to be played again and again. Maybe because of its mass appeal and catchy structure, the band picked this song for being their leading single of Affinity. But overall, it is to mention that Haken got inspired a lot by 80´s prog rock in general. Such influences can be found on the song „1985,“ which in fact sounds a little like this period of time, having some retro electronic drums in it. This will remind a lot of bands like Saga, which used these drums in a lot of songs. These drums sound like early game score music. Even if this track sounds like the 80´s, it ends with a heavy hitting break, that in deed even could be called djent-influenced. But there are way more djenty passages on Affinity to hear.
„ We all love the sounds they used; the keyboard and drum sounds gave the music a cool flavour and we´ve oncorporated some of that approach throughout Affinity, but especially on the track „1985“. Of course there´s still a modern edge to the drums and heavy guitar tones on what you´ll hear.“ – Charlie Griffiths
“The Architect” is a track which will be loved by fans of Between The Buried And Me, as it breaks the 15 minute border. In fact, this song is by far the longest on this record, and probably the most experimental one. The chorus of the song is similar to „Initiate“; a catchy tune by its own. This very diverse song will stay in mind, due to its high variety, but also because there is a guest spot sung by Leprous‘s Einar. This sng builds up to a true monster of music, which ends in a very satisfying way, where the chorus is supported by a progressive break structure that simply sounds majestic and huge. Also, the catchy aspect of Jennings‘ voice is again able to dig you some earwigs, that will let you know to this song, over and over again.
Even if songs like „Lapse,“ “Earthrise“ and “Red Giant“ seem to be the weaker tracks of the record, they are also catchy and proggy in their very own way. With that being said – these songs are far away from being weak at all. All of these songs have this perfect balance of retro prog, modern prog and even pop, as “Earthrise“ provides with staccato strings leading into the chorus. But Haken is not all about retro music; their second single „The Endless Knot,“ features some eectronic gambling that sounds like dubstep combined with deep extended range chugging. Also, the band brings in a little dubstep influence that will keep your head bouncing.
All things considered, it must be said that there is no track throughout the album that I can refer to as a bad one. The main difference is that songs like „Iniatiate“ , “The Architect“ and “The Endless Knot“ are due to become the bigger hits of this record. These songs are the catchier highlights of this masterpiece of music called Affinity. If you love bands like Between The Buried And Me, due to their beautiful parts (like the clean part on “Sun Of Nothing,“ for that matter), you will love this record, since Haken also provides these beautiful moments of pure perfection within melodies and harmony.
It seems like Haken found the perfect mixture between modern prog music, such as djent, and old prog rock ala 70´s and this time even 80´s. With this quite interesting mixture, the British band formed something special, something that sounds a little unique in its entirety, while it is clearly to hear that every single influence is known. Being an experimental band for years now, one can definitely say that this experiment definitely works out, and is due to draw attention from probably every fan of progressive music in general. Wether this is going to be one of your favorite records in 2016 is totally up to you, but it is clear that this record is one of the most overthought and throughly composed records that has been released up until now. Make sure to give this true piece of art a spin, and keep a sharp eye towards this band, which could be able to climb the mountain of the modern prog scene.
Fun fact: did you know that Haken is the German word for “hook” ? Also, there is a German proverb that says, “does it have a hook?” or “where is the hook?”. This proverb is used to describe something perfect, since it is hard to find something wrong with it. Cuincidence or not – this band has no hook at all.
Notable Tracks: “Initiate“, “The Architect“, “The Endless Knot.“
FFO: Leprous, Between The Buried And Me, Saga, Agent Fresco
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