Review Summary: With the help of their impressive musicianship, Haken's first EP exists as a worthy follow up to their critically acclaimed predecessor.
Haken exists as one of the most charismatic modern progressive bands around. Armed with their Dream Theater influenced sound and stellar musicianship, they truly stick out like a sore thumb along with the likes of Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Tool. These aspects mentioned above happens to be what made 2013’s The Mountain
such a massive critical success. It was epic, confident, well written and showcased occasional instances where cheesiness is refreshingly well placed. However, in Haken’s debut EP, they chose to rework songs from their demo and the band decided to turn the epic dial all the way up to eleven while at the same time dropping the cheese altogether. Admittedly, it proves to be a tiny step downward compared to The Mountain
, but their grounded musicianship still remains completely intact and Restoration
makes for an awesome half hour listen.
Right off the bat, “Darkest Light” showcases the Dream Theater esque instrumentation to great effect as the keyboards and brooding guitar work rages on. As the epic introduction comes to a halt, Ross Jennings’ exceptional vocals come in and he’s aided by well written lyrics. Over the courses of the track, the band’s exceptional musicianship can easily be seen here and the whole track exists as quite the enjoyable listen. Granted, "Darkest Light" is without a doubt a solid opener, it proves to be nothing compared to its successor. “Earthlings,” the undeniable highlight of Restoration
, showcases Haken at their atmospheric best with engrossing guitar work, ambience and masterful lyrics. Heavy on subtle instrumentation and well done harmonies, “Earthlings” is a testament of how amazing Haken can be and as soon as it comes on, the listener can easily get lost in the soaring atmosphere.
After this obvious highlight that is "Earthlings", the EP comes to a close with the highly progressive epic known as “Crystalized.” While the song may start and end with a bang, the band unfortunately delves into the common flaw of progressive music as a whole which would be its length. The song proves to be just too long and the middle section happens to be the biggest offender of this flaw. Granted, the band certainly could have trimmed a bit of the fat here, but nonetheless the song never becomes a bad song because of this. Ross’ vocals remain quite exceptional and the band as a whole unites to really bring this nearly twenty minute epic to a close. As mentioned before, it’s definitely a bit too long, but still quite impressive for what it is.
Even though Restoration
has its fair share of flaws, the band found ways for the listener to quickly overcome them quite easily. The band manages to confidently hold their own as they always do every minute of their debut EP with their impressive musicianship, polished production and evidence of them still growing as a band. The progressive scene should be warned because Haken will surely return with a reckless abandon while they are done recording their fourth studio album. If elements of The Mountain
are expertly combined in the right ways, they could easily create a masterpiece.