Haken
Virus


5.0
classic

Review

by Odal USER (20 Reviews)
July 23rd, 2020 | 296 replies


Release Date: 07/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Consistently reaching dazzling heights and pushing their sound to its absolute limits, Haken's Virus is the best album of their career and a high benchmark for prog as a whole.

Back in the eleventh grade, my friends and I decided to tackle an assignment on interpreting the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby, by filming a movie trailer for our imagined sequel, The Great Gatsby II: Dragon’s Fury. In it, Owl Eyes would unravel a government conspiracy that went all the way to the top and the literal eye of Dr. TJ Eckleburg would wander and gaze around a police hellscape. It was ridiculous, nonsensical, and ultimately satisfying to explore such a rote and useless concept. In fact, we ended up getting an A for deconstructing and strippng away virtually everything from the original novel, to the point that our teacher commented that we had to have understood it well enough to counter it with such absurdity.

Which is a fitting transition, in many ways, for Haken’s sixth full-length record, Virus, which is a direct sequel to their 2018 effort, Vector. That record found Haken at their most refined and restrained despite the underlying concept of looking at their best known song, “Cockroach King” which was a cautionary tale on greed and the pursuit of happiness and imagining ‘but what if he was actually a cockroach?’ It was silly, hardhitting, and, most importantly, the best album of their career.

Until now.

Virus finds Haken pushing their unique brand of prog to its absolute limits and daring you to keep up with its dizzying heights. Being the second part of a larger musical tapestry, there’s a lot of ground to cover here sonically, but Haken waste absolutely no time with opener “Prosthetic”, the most unrelentingly aggressive song in their career. It’s a fitting tone setter that packs a bit more of a straightforward punch than many Haken fans may be accustomed to, but has enough electronic flourishes and trademark weirdness to make it unmistakably their own. “Invasion” follows suit with incredible restraint by building and cascading upon a simple, haunting melody that squeezes blood from a stone by changing and convulsing around its relatively simple lines with machine-like precision before culminating into a crushing climax that continuously dances around the song's main grooves.

In fact, most of this record is far more straightforward and restrained than even Vector. “Canary Yellow” and “The Strain” are two songs that, while undeniably great, really don’t require a lot of listens to dissect and “get”. But when the band lets loose, they conquer. “Carousel” is a ten minute labyrinth that packs more ideas than a lot of albums into its runtime, while making everything coalesce so effortlessly. It’s a trademark Haken epic, with all the anthemic choruses, proggy passages, and instrumental wackiness worthy of that title.

Which makes it even more bonkers that really the whole album is essentially window dressing for the real attraction here, “Messiah Complex”. Throughout its five parts, Haken inject everything from 8-bit shotgun blasts and djent-y breakdowns to into what is surely the best song in their already storied career. There are times where I came close to bursting into laughter from how ridiculous and tight the band sounded. What else can you honestly ask for in a song about a literal king that is a cockroach? It’s the kind of statement that -quite literally- borrows heavily from elsewhere in their discography and just doing everything….better.

And that’s really the name of the game here. It certainty seems a bit disingenuous to call it merely a refinement of their sound because it does manage to push things into exciting new territory, but Virus smooths out any rough patches the band had leftover from Vector. For anyone not accustomed to the genre, the journey may be a bit much to swallow but this is the best album in Haken's already impressive career and will surely cast a wide shadow on prog in the decade to come. It's an instant classic.




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user ratings (242)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
July 23rd 2020


494 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'd be lying if I said I was completely happy with this review, but I wanted to say something.



This thing is something special. I cannot seem to put it down.

IronGiant
July 24th 2020


1719 Comments


Great review. Not a fan of the band but you persuaded me to check it out. I think the best kinds of reviews are those that cause you to chuck every preconceived notion you may have out the window and give something a listen with an open mind and open ears, so in that regard congratulations. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Odal
July 24th 2020


494 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks for reading I think Vector is good prerequisite for this album, but definitely definitely check it out. It's been on repeat for a while and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. The second part of Messiah Complex is something else

Lichtbringer
July 24th 2020


356 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, you got me stoked to check this out.

parksungjoon
July 24th 2020


21490 Comments


always found this band painfully overrated

that said your review is good!

GreyShadow
July 24th 2020


4168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really excited for this, despite me not suuuuper loving any of the singles. Canary Yellow was a nice vibe, just not what I want from them, still really good. Invasion was solid but i don't remember it. Prosthetic has like the lamest Haken chorus ever which in contrast to The Good Doctor which was one of their best

Digging: Blaqk Audio - Beneath The Black Palms (Side A)

Odal
July 24th 2020


494 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Prosthetic was something I had to warm up to as well. I think it and Canary Yellow work to ground the album to something a little more digestible compared to how zany things can get. The chorus is a little lame, but that's part of the charm for me. If you're listening to this directly after Vector too, it really works.



Also, thanks for the kind words all!

Drpibb
July 24th 2020


178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

God this album is mixed so well

Faraudo
July 24th 2020


3559 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Prog AOTY.

Digging: Taylor Swift - Folklore

LeddSledd
July 24th 2020


524 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Absolutely fuckin RULES. The singles worked way better in the context of the album, Prosthetic grew on me way more than I thought it would.



The last bit of the Messiah Complex left me out of breath, holy balls.

kalkwiese
July 24th 2020


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Some blod claims here. I'm excited to finally listen to it today



Gonna remove that 1 rating now lol forgot about that

Digging: Becca Stevens - WONDERBLOOM

LeddSledd
July 24th 2020


524 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ah finally, good on you Kalk.

TundraL5Z
July 24th 2020


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

always found park painfully overrated



that said he has no redeeming qualities!

Digging: Haken - Virus

LeddSledd
July 24th 2020


524 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well then :/

TundraL5Z
July 24th 2020


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

People disliking Prosthetic makes me laugh in a way that is out loud

kalkwiese
July 24th 2020


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Still a rather meh track though.

TundraL5Z
July 24th 2020


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

better than good doctor the guitar solo propels it over

Faraudo
July 24th 2020


3559 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

All the tracks are pretty good tbh

Scheumke
July 24th 2020


1800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually kinda get when people find this overrated tbh. I really enjoy their music, but it's not the end all be all of modern prog.

kalkwiese
July 24th 2020


5749 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The Good Doctor is so much better than Prosthetic lmao

Prosthetic doesn't even come close



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