Crudely put, Progressive Metal could be described as Metal with noodling. A respected exponent of this genre, English band, Haken, has followed their acclaimed album, “The Mountain” with “Restoration”. This three-track EP comprises songs which originally appeared on a self-produced ‘demo’ a few years ago, re-imagined and re-recorded to reflect where the current line-up is at today. Haken’s six members (Ross, Richard, Charles, Raymond, Diego and newest member, Connor) present an intriguing canvas, with a wash of softly, softly rock studded with potent jazz and metal. Fine musicians all – guitars, keyboards, bass and percussion create subtlety and aggression equally well without overwhelming the sweet spots of lead vocalist, Ross Jennings.
“Restoration” is to be released on 27th October, 2014 as a download and on vinyl. Beginning with “Darkest Light”, the band sets its stall out with fast and furious guitar and keyboards, joined by softer vocals soaring above complex jazz-fused sounds. I imagine Yes albums nestle in their collective record collection. It’s a cool meld of dark and light – ying and yang. “Earthlings” is gently spaced out prog-rock at its most laid-back, with sympathetic percussion and a welcome Pink Floydian passage.
“Crystallised”, clocking in at 19:24, is not so much a song as a tour through different genres. Like a pinball zapping different components of a potted musical history, we hear spacey ambient, theatricality, choppy jazz keyboards overlaid with epic vocal harmonies, great drive-pile rock and jazz guitar, sweet melodic guitar with jazz bass lines underneath, percussion with an ear for both jazz and rock, four-part a cappella vocals, and 1960’s psychedelic folk with suitably optimistic Summer of Love sentiments. With a final lyric of “escaping the past by embracing the future” and a swish of cymbals, “Restoration” is over.
It may not contain enough heaviness for some and too much prog for others, and lyrics could be targeted for being – well, a little too ‘proggy’ – but if you’re open to different experiences contained within one record, this is well worth a spin.
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