Rating:
9.3
Haken - Aquarius
29 March 2010


01. The Point Of No Return
02. Streams
03. Aquarium
04. Eternal Rain
05. Drowning In The Flood
06. Sun
07. Celestial Elixir


2010 is long over, and I still have not heard an album that was better than Haken's Aquarius. Hailing from England and featuring two To-Mera members: Richard Henshall, who mostly plays the guitar but also keyboards like in his other band, and Tom MacLean playing the bass instead of guitar. There is also a guitar player from Linear Sphere, and all other members are involved only with Haken. Overall, the level of musicianship is outstanding.

I love the way Richard Henshall describes the band's sound: "On Aquarius we have riffs with Meshuggah heaviness, but we also have a Dixieland section, so I suppose we belong in the common ground between those two." The Meshuggah heaviness is indeed present, but, clad with prog essentials, it sounds more like the heavy Dream Theater, Adagio's first two albums, and the above-mentioned To-Mera. Haken in their turn do a great job at that with laying vocals and melodies over complex, syncopated rhythms. Their heavy sound also stretches to really doomy parts with quite amazing (though unexpected), deep growling; however, the album is 95% clean singing, which fits the music perfectly. The Dixieland section mentioned by Richard Henshall is, I assume, what most of us would describe as "jazz elements" (Dixieland is an early form of jazz), but one can also find "avant-garde elements": you know going a bit crazy, using accordion sounds, and playing something that sounds like circus music. Everything in between is modern, creative prog, with numerous soft passages, beautiful melodies, quite amazing soloing, and pleasant, versatile vocals. Haken don't go too far with experimentation or indulge in unnecessary skill show-off: everything is tasteful and appropriate on this album, but at the same time there is not even a shade of mediocrity or boredom; rather, the technicality on Aquarius is very subtle and musical, and that is a sign of talent.

I really don't want to go into separate song descriptions because every - and let me say that again - every one of them is a magnificent manifestation of the art of composing. Aquarius is the music I live for; this is one of those works of art that make me fall in love with music more and more; this kind of music makes me happy and lends me wings; finally, such music serves as link to God. While these words make me sound biased, let me reassure you that Aquarius is hard not to like. It is truly a kaleidoscope of moods and rhythms, and when you hear this album, it will be the point of no return because the streams of music will overflow you and carry you to the aquarium of sonic perfection, where you will bathe under eternal rain of brilliance, and when you will be drowning in the flood of emotion, the sun will come out to make you happy like a child, and as the water evaporates, you will find the celestial elixir of the divine grace.

Would you like to take the journey?

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 10


Band profile: Haken
Album: Aquarius


 


written by K†ulu | 08.02.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
DirkLizzard

Rating:
9.1
This album is quite a surprise. New bands often make the mistake of trying too hard to show the world how good they are, and to put so many ideas in the music that all coherence is lost. Haken has a lot of ideas and they know how to play their instruments, but they never show off too much and they managed to make the album sound as a coherent entity.

Read more ››
published 08.02.2011 | Comments (6)



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tea[m]ster - 17.02.2011 at 23:47  
Excellent review K,tulu! Man do I love progressive metal - the musicianship is off the charts!
K†ulu - 18.02.2011 at 08:50  
Written by tea[m]ster on 17.02.2011 at 23:47

Excellent review K,tulu! Man do I love progressive metal - the musicianship is off the charts!

Thank you! Yes, these dudes are masters of their instruments AND can play beautiful music without any excesses. Unbelievable, really! Did you hear anything else amazing in the prog grounds in 2010?
MechanisT - 18.02.2011 at 14:55  
Okay, heard their music, definitely impressive musicianship, but I have a BIG problem with the vocals, I find it very distasteful and they remind me of that Shinedown vocalist in a very annoying way. Can't fault the review though (except for the vocals). Very good review!
K†ulu - 18.02.2011 at 16:40  
Written by MechanisT on 18.02.2011 at 14:55

Okay, heard their music, definitely impressive musicianship, but I have a BIG problem with the vocals, I find it very distasteful and they remind me of that Shinedown vocalist in a very annoying way. Can't fault the review though (except for the vocals). Very good review!

It seems like the vocals on Aquarius are a love/hate matter for most people. Some people get used to them. I have to say that the vocals are good; not mind-blowing or anything but just good and fitting, and I like the growls.
tea[m]ster - 18.02.2011 at 17:50  
Written by K†ulu on 18.02.2011 at 08:50

Written by tea[m]ster on 17.02.2011 at 23:47

Excellent review K,tulu! Man do I love progressive metal - the musicianship is off the charts!

Thank you! Yes, these dudes are masters of their instruments AND can play beautiful music without any excesses. Unbelievable, really! Did you hear anything else amazing in the prog grounds in 2010?


Try this one, it was released in 2009 yet I discovered it later 2010. I posted it in the "want prog" thread so if u saw it already apologies!

Subsignal - Beautiful and Monstrous (http://www.subsignalband.com/)
Ag Fox - 18.02.2011 at 23:57  
Written by tea[m]ster on 18.02.2011 at 17:50

Written by K†ulu on 18.02.2011 at 08:50

Written by tea[m]ster on 17.02.2011 at 23:47

Excellent review K,tulu! Man do I love progressive metal - the musicianship is off the charts!

Thank you! Yes, these dudes are masters of their instruments AND can play beautiful music without any excesses. Unbelievable, really! Did you hear anything else amazing in the prog grounds in 2010?


Try this one, it was released in 2009 yet I discovered it later 2010. I posted it in the "want prog" thread so if u saw it already apologies!

Subsignal - Beautiful and Monstrous (http://www.subsignalband.com/)
Basically Sieges Even risen from the ashes...

Anyway, the vocals took me a couple of spins to get used to it, but this is definitely the essential prog album from 2010. Good job on the review, Ktulu! It reminds me a lot of Jeff, actually (in a positive way)
tea[m]ster - 19.02.2011 at 10:11  
Written by Ag Fox on 18.02.2011 at 23:57

Written by tea[m]ster on 18.02.2011 at 17:50

Written by K†ulu on 18.02.2011 at 08:50

Written by tea[m]ster on 17.02.2011 at 23:47

Excellent review K,tulu! Man do I love progressive metal - the musicianship is off the charts!

Thank you! Yes, these dudes are masters of their instruments AND can play beautiful music without any excesses. Unbelievable, really! Did you hear anything else amazing in the prog grounds in 2010?


Try this one, it was released in 2009 yet I discovered it later 2010. I posted it in the "want prog" thread so if u saw it already apologies!

Subsignal - Beautiful and Monstrous (http://www.subsignalband.com/)
Basically Sieges Even risen from the ashes...



It sure is...but that's a good thing. Excellent album, now HIS voice is awesome, but I digress, this is a Haken review thread!

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