"Aquarius" (Sensory; 2010)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Haken are progressive rock and progressive metal; that just means they can switch between those two types of progressiveness and still stay within the defined terms. Haken are from London, England and "Aquarius," their debut, is a concept album that tells the story about a couple that has a mermaid daughter. Fans of progressive music will be drawn into the storytelling and music of "Aquarius." I know I was. This album would be great to see in concert with a storyboard behind the band, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The tracks on "Aquarius" are lengthy and move from progressive time signatures to musical instruments such as a flute, harp and trombone to name just a few of the sounds you will hear on this disc. The list of guest musicians on this CD is impressive! Haken use a lot of jazz, metal and prog to tell the story, I read that they sound like Kansas hopped up on pills and since they start "Aquarius" off with a track entitled "Point of No Return" there could be some truth to that statement. "Aquarius" clocks in at 1:12:48 but the time passes quickly since the story unfolds in a way that lets the music tell part of the story while the vocalist sings the other part. There is a dark voice that tells his own story. He moves in and out of the story so when you hear him listen for his side of the tale.

At first listen, I was a little sour-faced but after a while I was eager to see how they would approach each track. It took me some time to take in all the sounds but once I quit nit-picking and started pointing out I was able to relax and really enjoy a progressive style of music I don't normally embrace. At times I think Steve Vai is being channeled. Haken have a weird but cool approach to progressive music. As of the writing of this review, they now have three discs out there. I'll have to give each one a chance so look for more reviews forthcoming on Haken.

Haken: Ross Jennings - Vocals; Richard "Hen" Henshall - Guitar and Keyboards; Charlie Griffiths - Guitar; Thomas MacLean - Bass Guitar; Ray Hearne - Drums, Tuba, Djembe; Diego Tejeida - Keyboards. Guest Musicians -Craig Beattie - Trombone; Alex Benwell; Trumpet; Pablo Inda Garcia - Clarinet; Marged Hall - Harp; Darren Moore - Trumpet; Jon Roskilly - Trombone; Dave Ruff - Flute.

For more information - http://www.hakenmusic.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 05 Jun 2022 15:54:51 -0400.