Haken
Aquarius


4.5
superb

Review

by Dying. Feed us? USER (8 Reviews)
December 15th, 2010 | 30 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The greatest debut album I may have ever heard, Aquarius by Haken would be one of the greatest releases of the year standing alone. Taken in context, it is one of the most promising releases I have heard in an incredibly long time.

Haken's Aquarius is one of the strongest debuts created in recent memory. Many bands first attempts at professional release fall short, their sound not fine-tuned to perfection, not yet having found their niche. Haken has managed to break this trend, bursting out of the gate with enviable force, their music already composed better than many comparable bands have been able to achieve throughout their entire respective careers.

This debut manages to combine the force and utter technicality of the finest Dream Theater recordings, compositional bombast not heard since the heyday of 1970s era prog-rock, and yes, even some fantastic death metal growls. The latter do occasionally clash jarringly with the feel of the rest of the album collectively, and their abandonment wouldn't have been an entirely bad decision, but I'll be damned if they don't scream with the best of them.

I feel I have to admit that I was drawn into this music by catching a glimpse of the album cover, a man in a winter coat with the hood pulled up over his head, holding on to a limp, bloody mermaid. The description fails to do the cover justice, however, for I would have to use at least a thousand words, assuming the old saying rings true, and I simply don't have time for that unfortunately. The image may be a tad cliche, but it sets up such a great atmosphere, even without the music, that I feel it is an impressive, if not utterly overwhelming sight. However, I do confess that I came into the fold expecting to hear the aforementioned death growls, but upon hearing the song Streams, I quickly found myself to be wrong, for the greater portion of the song. The beautiful intro piano medley, quickly followed by an intriguing vocal layered across the instrumentation. This music creates its own atmosphere, just as the album cover had at first. I was unable to resist pressing repeat, closing my eyes, and simply letting the music captivate my imagination. It is definitely capable of performing such a feat, with incredibly intricate sonic passages, beautifully sung vocals, even the growling, after you get back its initial clash with the rest of the music.

But of course, were would it be with the infamous progressive flight of fancy solos? That element that has divided audiences over the genre between those that view them as utterly technical and compositional geniuses and those that see it is overly pretentious garbage, is present in abundance on this album. Aquarius is definitely not the album to play to an uninitiated in order to convert them, but to those already comfortable with the long keyboard passages will greatly enjoy this.

And upon first listen, this does seem to fall into all the categories that are stereotypes of the genre. Haken makes no attempts to circumnavigate these elements either, but rather plough through them with a reckless abandon rarely heard in any musical genre these days. It's abundantly evident that this group of musicians is in it for the music; the energy I've heard is in such forceful presence in their live shows is clear even in the context of a studio recording. Their sheer determination is what allows this album to have all the trappings of typical progressive, and yet still manage to rise above many of their long established contemporaries. It isn't always clear on a first listen through, but those huge solos are just a little bit more melodic than many other bands compose, the music not merely eclectic notes played at incomprehensible speeds. And that is the heart of the matter: despite Aquarius's hefty length, the run time is barely registered, because every single moment is spent lost in some new sonic movement. My first listen to this entire album was the best 70 minutes I can remember ever experiencing in quite awhile.

So, with such an incredibly debut, relatively inexperienced as a band at this point, I quiver in excited anticipation to see what this genius group of musicians releases next! I can easily foresee them as the next Blind Guardian, perhaps even the next Dream Theater. Standing alone, this is one of the strongest releases of 2010; taken in context, the potential displayed here is utterly overwhelming. Anyone who considers themselves to be even remotely interested in this genre needs to listen to this absolute behemoth. It will be time well spent. The progressive genre, which has grown largely stale in recent years, may have just witnessed the birth of its savior.



Recent reviews by this author
Bad Salad UncivilizedWood Spider In the Thick of It
Seventh Wonder The Great EscapeDragonForce Ultra Beatdown
Mournful Congregation The Monad of CreationDream Theater A Change of Seasons
user ratings (192)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Ovrot
December 15th 2010


10495 Comments


How prog is it?

Scoot
December 16th 2010


17771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow, this is solid stuff.

jybt
December 16th 2010


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

YES! Been waiting for this review - pos'd. A 4 might be too low, but I haven't got back to hear this album again even though I've intended to for a while.

Hopefully soon, I'll be filling in another band with no reviews with my Dug album...check them out too if you like this style of prog.

Ovrot: This is prog in the sense that it incorporates almost anything - jazz-rock, 50's rock, symphonic passages, a horn section, funk, ethnic percussion, death growling, Beach Boys-style pop, neo-prog progressions and prog-metal riffs. However, it's only barely a metal album.

porcupinetheater
December 16th 2010


114 Comments


Dug? Is that the band or the album? I've been looking for that, but I can't seem to find it!

And @Ovrot: It pretty much combines every progressive element that's ever been used in one convenient album! But listen to jybt's description. That description pretty much nails everything I could think of to say.

Digging: Meth Drinker - Meth Drinker

melgosa41
December 16th 2010


93 Comments


ha this album is great, not at all what i expected

jybt
December 17th 2010


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Heard this album again since - still a reluctant high 4.

audiosmurf
May 16th 2011


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

such an awesome debut. need MOAR. Celestial Elixir just owns faces.

jybt
May 16th 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

audiosmurf +1

Guitarist Richard Henshall on the new album: "Four or five of the songs are already written and they're all better."

These guys must be riot comedians in person and it shows in the incredible entertainment value of this album. 4.5 since the last comment...

Keyblade
May 26th 2011


14888 Comments


Considering how laid back the first half of Streams was...the processed growls really took me by surprise. Damn, this is promising stuff indeed.

ShinXetsu
May 26th 2011


605 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is absolutely fantastic, this might actually be a 5 for me.

jybt
May 26th 2011


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@porcupinetheater et al: Anybody else who reviews this album that knows what they are talking about will definitely get such review featured on Haken's website - that means him as well. The only haters are themetalcrypt and metalunderground (second review), neither of whom seems to know what's going on. I no longer read metalunderground after that abortion...

I'm hoping to review this one soon.

porcupinetheater
June 2nd 2011


114 Comments


@ShinXetsu: I'm actually considering bumping this up to a 5 myself, been over half a year since I heard it now, and it's playability hasn't decreased an ounce. I'd say that's an important thing to factor into whether or not an album is classic.

And @jybt: Are you serious about the website? That would likely be among the most amazing things to have happened to me, if they posted this on there...


audiosmurf
July 5th 2011


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

metalunderground review is butt retarded.

negs shall be hung


wakeem
October 10th 2011


100 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is a perfect example why I love this site. Albums/Bands I would never have heard get recommended and I absolutely love them!

Pity about the growl vocals, sounds like an evil wizard voice in a video game or something, but other than that every time I listen to this it just captivates me from start to finish. Wonderful album, cant wait for the new album!

Yazz_Flute
November 8th 2011


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I want to give this lower than a 4 because of the fucking stupid circus-noises but then some part just comes in and blows me away.

Their new one is better though.

Digging: Finch (US) - Say Hello to Sunshine

Yazz_Flute
November 8th 2011


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sike yeah settling on a 3.5. Glad they ditched most of the bullshit on Visions.

steventon
February 19th 2012


152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album absolutely kills it. Cannot get over how epic the chorus to "Celestial Elixer" is.

Titan
August 26th 2012


4884 Comments


Celestial Elixir is perfection

Yazz_Flute
September 22nd 2012


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Aquarium is a goddamn brilliant song.

JS19
March 17th 2013


4305 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A lot of Aquarium sounds like The Darkness

Digging: Lights - Little Machines



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy