When I was younger, I was really concerned and uncertain about the future of Progressive Metal. I didn’t know as many bands as I do today, and I wasn’t sure if any band would be able to change the field and bring life to it as bands like Dream Theater had done. Later I discovered bands like Leprous, Riverside, Native Construct, The Devin Townsend Project and of course- HAKEN. These bands bring diversity and new creativity to the genre- thus expanding the term progressive and inspiring new bands to create something from a bigger palate.
HAKEN’s latest album, Affinity, like their previous efforts, shows the band in a new light. It’s always interesting to hear a new album from a band you’re familiar with. Will they stick to the same formula of their latest work or will they take a chance and come up with a new approach? HAKEN has managed to reinvent themselves and their style with each of their albums. That’s a really rare thing to see these days. To have the chance to see a new band growing and developing before you is an amazing experience, and I’ve always respected a band that tries never to repeat themselves than bands that try to recreate a success from an earlier album. Of course, the musical “core style” remains. It’s what identifies the band. Especially for a band that has already put out a few albums.
With this album, HAKEN went for a whole new approach and style, while still keeping that signature HAKEN sound. I think going for a collaborative effort is definitely the way to go for them. Writing as a band brings out a different, interesting sound every time. Affinity shows that their vision is getting clearer from album to album. The last EP, 2014’s Restoration, showed how the band has grown by taking their old material and refreshing it with their current approach of writing music. That approach is clearly shown on this album, and with new material too. The album starts off with “Initiate”- with its really heavy complex riff. It reminds many fans of Leprous with its confusing yet really catchy progression and complex chords and breaks. The song goes into a moody verse and great melody, which is probably why it fits so good as the album opener and even the show opener at their concerts. The song “1985” really sets off the mood of the entire album showcasing cool synth sounds and amazing instrumentation. I think that what special about this album, is how uplifting it is. Even the ballads have some kind of positive vibe to them.
Songs like “Earthrise” and “Lapse” maintain the band’s heavy sound but keeping the vibe happy and uplifting, and that’s a really hard thing to do. Still the album has it’s dark moments, in songs like “The Endless Knot” or “The Architect”. Now let’s talk about “The Architect”: you have to give extra attention to the album’s epic song. I still think many reviewers pay too much attention to this song even though the album would still be amazing even without it, but this 15 minute epic deserves every compliment it could get nonetheless. The opening riff is one of the most aggressive and vicious riffs the band has ever made, and so confusing in the same time. I really like the catchy chorus and the melody of the verses. The song then becomes much more atmospheric, continuing with great solos and the appearance of Leprous’ Einar Solberg- with his very unique voice. Closing the album is the ballad- “Bound By Gravity”, a very atmospheric song with great melodies and emotions.
Still, I would’ve liked to have ballads in the album that were more melodic and less atmospheric, like “Deathless” from Visions, or “Sun” from Aquarius. also, the album is clocking at 61 minutes, and to me that’s a little short. I would’ve loved to see a more lengthy album with more tracks.
In a nutshell, I think that this album is definitely a step up for HAKEN. The band continues to broaden their musical language and style, but still remaining HAKEN. I really think this is one of the most promising bands today in the genre due to its originality and its unique sound. I’m really looking forward to seeing HAKEN conquer the top of the genre, and becoming a household name to Prog fans everywhere.
By Yarin Cohen – October 16, 2016