Haken
The Mountain


5.0
classic

Review

by Michael USER (3 Reviews)
December 8th, 2013 | 27 replies | 2,032 views


Release Date: 09/02/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bursting at the seams with creativity, The Mountain nails the fragility of the human condition while also pumping out some fantastic music.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

For a species with such a frail frame, humanity has this odd knack for being persistent. It takes very little to knock us down - a sudden injury, an impassable competitor, or a vice we fall prey to can all instantaneously ruin our plans for the future. Constantly struck down, we nevertheless keep moving forward. Perhaps it's out of optimism, but more likely it's out of a drive to overcome what's been laid before us. Life's trappings are out of our control, but the one thing we can control is our responses to these mountains in our lives.

This is the general theme that runs throughout Haken's concept album The Mountain. Although not a concept album in the case that it tells a story, The Mountain instead focuses on the themes of the mountains that everyone must bear throughout their lifetimes. Each track on the album acts almost like an individual vignette that lacks a real plot - although there seems to be some progression of a character within certain tracks ("Cockroach King" and "Falling Back to Earth" come to mind), lyrically the album is very heavy on focusing on themes within each song instead of a story. This decision to disregard a running story like they did on their previous two albums, Aquarius and Visions, makes the music remarkably more relatable and personal to the listener. The themes that Haken explores are so universal that anyone who has ever felt any sense of difficulty in their lives will be able to find some theme or motif to latch onto over the 62 minutes that make up The Mountain, which is made all the more interesting by the way that the songs will often cross-reference each other lyrically.

Of course, Haken's here to write music, not poetry. The music that permeates the album is impossible to classify as a genre, although it's probably closest to progressive rock with metal tinges. There are certainly some heavy riffs in the album, but compared to their previous efforts Haken has toned back the metal to further explore their jazz influences while also incorporating some of the most creative vocal melodies in recent memory. There's the often mentioned Gentle Giant-esque a cappella in "Cockroach King", but there's so many more harmonies, unique phrasings, and even Gregorian chants in this album than one is likely to notice upon their first listen. A particular highlight comes towards the end of the album in "Somebody" with an incredibly melodic and creative usage of just one repeated lyric: "I wish I could have been somebody." The phrasing and harmonies on this section are a fun twist, and the fact that vocalist Ross Jennings has such a pleasing voice doesn't hurt either (Jennings is essentially a modern Jon Anderson but with a bit more force and emotion). The song lengths may turn some people away, but rest assured that all of the musical twists that these songs provide are consistently a treat to hear, and these technically proficient musicians don't wander off quite as much as they did in their last two albums. The jazzy interludes, the bouzouki solo, the crunchy riffs, and the brass sections never feel like noodling, but rather like coherent pieces of music that are still easily divisible into sections.

There's so many wonderful little nuggets throughout this album that it would be impossible to list them all in this review, and perhaps it's best that the listener discovers these on his or her own. The Mountain is certainly a triumph for Haken and for prog rock in general; we can only hope these talented lads haven't already reached their peak. For now, rest assured that they have created one of the best musical journeys of 2013.


user ratings (309)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Joseph Newcomer (4.5)
"Adapt to this world, It's a chance we must take, We'll play our hand"...

Adam (4.5)
Haken have reached the summit....

Matthew Hopkins (5)
Showing the world that progressive music can still have feeling....

related reviews

Visions

Aquarius

Comments:Add a Comment 
elcrawfodor
December 8th 2013



33 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

First review, any constructive criticism is welcome!

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Of course, Haken's here to write music, not poetry."

Haha lyrics are basically poetry for the most part dude. But anyways, welcome to the site and fantastic first review! You plan on writing more?

Digging: Agalloch - The Mantle

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7880 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really nice review, man

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Weird how come I can't see this on the front page?

elcrawfodor
December 8th 2013



33 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I probably plan on writing some more reviews, although this one was particularly easy for me since I really feel it's such a strong album; I'd think that the hardest review to write would be for a really average, mediocre album. Thanks for the pos!

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No prob dude. And trust me if you hate an album enough, the review is quite easy.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7880 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First reviews have to be approved by the mods before appearing on the front :]

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh didn't know that. And sweet avatar haha

SadAndHolyGlow
December 8th 2013



1448 Comments


Great first review!

Digging: Renascent - Through Darkness

Parallels
December 8th 2013



6640 Comments


good album but riddled with over-the-top immaturity

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I would call it cheesy but that's part of the fun of this record

Hoppoman
December 8th 2013



630 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love this beautiful piece of art.

KILL
December 8th 2013



67091 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol

DrHouseSchuldiner
December 8th 2013



5605 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

cant get all these 5s and 4.5s

KILL
December 8th 2013



67091 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

they havent heard the bands these dudes rip off basically

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 8th 2013



7205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Who do they rip off exactly? Yea he sounds like the lead singer from Yes but whatever.

CaptainDooRight
December 8th 2013



26459 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool album but not even close to a 5.

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

KILL
December 8th 2013



67091 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

gentle giant is the most obvious one mixed with sum DT, marillion, porcupine tree and queefy btbam

Chortles
December 8th 2013



17511 Comments


aoty????

Digging: Chico Buarque - Construção

KILL
December 8th 2013



67091 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

raven is a much better rip off record honestly



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