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Haken – Affinity


Last Updated on 02:48 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

Genre: Progressive
Country: U.K.
Label: Inside Out
Year: 2016

They were many those who believed in the potential of the British with the release of “The Mountain”, three years ago. Those are the first to smile while listening to the “Affinity” record, since it is simply the album where everyone will find Haken tasting the recognition they deserve in the field of the broader progressive Rock and Metal sound. Almost 10 years after the band’s start (does anyone here remember that great “Enter The 5th Dimension” demo?), the band will now be able to taste the labors of hard work and – the constant -talent deposit. Let me explain:

Since the release of their third album the band’s name was spread fairly. They were found next to big names of the field, their music was heard in a wider – in terms of sound preference – crowd and their sound mark was recognizable to most ears, especially to those who kept listening to “Aquarius” (2010) & “Visions” ( 2011) over and over again, so… So the band needed that fourth album which would seal their presence in the wider Prog map not only as a result of a concerted and organized promotion but as a direct result of talent and creativity. Thus, the record that locks the position of Haken alongside the big guns is the “Affinity” with which the band shows that it’s here to stay, beyond any doubt, even to those who didn’t know the band beforehand.

The record’s diversity is its strongest feature. There are plenty of influences from many different trends and periods of progressive sound. So certainly we are not dealing with a boring album. Each new hearing hides the emotion of the revelation of a new musical detail and in case you forgot this is one of the key challenges each Prog record that respects itself has to hold. So it will take you many hearings to discover all the treasures hidden in here.

For those who became familiar with the sound of Haken with “Initiate”, this one will be a dip in familiar waters. Its hypnotic keys and vocals underpin the calm moments of the composition, while the sonic outbursts serve emphatically. It’s quite a simple composition, so it wasn’t randomly chosen at all as the first single-and video-for the album, or as the opening track.

With “1985” Haken bring to the front stage in the form influences much of 80s progressive rock wealth, thus vindicating those who felt its pulse through large and small -new for the time- bands. So, 31 years later, there is a band that uses as influences those flashing synths and charming clear melodies that had anyway found their way into “Grace Under Pressure” (Rush) or  “Three Of A Perfec tPair” (King Crimson) or “The Jewel” (Pendragon). The flashback in time, however, doesn’t stop here. The band has used either aesthetically, either lyrically or musically in various parts of the album, references to the 80s elaborating at the dawn of computer domination. The most observant ones will have already entered the atmosphere by looking at the cover and the introductory “affinity.exe” which is aptly placed at the beginning of the record showing – at least to those who read the title and know what the executable files are – that the golden age of microcomputers can be a stimulus even for the next big Prog band of today.

Of course the best moment of the album is definitely the 15 minute opus “The Architect” for which what was written above about diversity and different progressive musical trends’ coexistence could be easily repeated. In this track the band’s great talent is glowing bright. What’s the talent? That a band can create extremely interesting music free from watertight. Intense and heavy enough beginning, a dive into atmospheric futuristic whirlpools and even some 80s obsessions before we come back in today. Everything i write about this little masterpiece would seem insignificant, so I’ll stop here and refer you to listen to it closely. For the diehard fans, I should mention the participation of Einar Solberg of Leprous, which gives many and strong vibes on the track.

“The Endless Knot” which is the second track promoted by the band from the record (in the lyric video form) is soaked in a futuristic, technical and exciting Haken universe, having stressful rhythms and flirting heavily with the modern Prog sound.

I chose to refer to the aforementioned tracks as characteristic audio samples of the record. Of course there is much more valuable material heard in “Affinity” such as the lyrical “Earthrise” or the introverted “Red Giant”. I could still write more about this album but I think that what really matters is your own personal contact with it. It is obvious that the band has tried its best to offer an album with real substance and reason for existence in the oftenly stagnant waters of progressive sound. Let’s press the play once again and let’s do it again the journey.



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