HAKEN – VISIONS

Released 5 December 2011 on Sensory

“Visions” is the second offering from the UK progressive metallers Haken and there is signs of growth over their 2010 debut “Aquarius”.  Whilst it’s hard to escape the similarities between the likes of Dream Theater (a cliché I know) there is also a more traditional prog vibe in places with the emphasis on an early Genesis feel, albeit done with a modern production, guitar tones etc.

Instrumental opener “Premonition” builds the atmosphere nicely for the 13 minute “Noctornal Conspiracy” which has everything including the kitchen sink in it.  Fortunately it manages to retain direction.   “Insomnia” serves up a heavier tone, darker and not a million miles away in feel to work heard on Sun Caged “The Lotus Effect” earlier in the year.  “The Mind’s Eye” is the most commercial number on the album (still in progressive terms though).  Things do get a little too DT on the instrumental “Portals” with Charles Griffith’s guitar tones being eerily similar to Mr Petrucci’s in place but it’s a well played piece and leads us into “Shapeshifter” which is rather challenging on the ear in places with numerous changes and oddball effects.    A moment (well 8 minutes to be precise) of restraint is heard on “Deathless” before the band lead out with the 22 minute title track which to be fair would have worked better broken up into individual tracks, the Pink Floyd-ish segment 14 minutes in was especially welcome though.

Overall Haken have delivered a stronger effort second time round. Although still unlikely to really appeal to anyone other than prog fans, it’s a solid effort and should bring the UK band more plaudits.

Rating – 83%

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