Vector is the fifth studio from London's progressive metal stalwarts Haken, a band who have been fairly prolific since emerging on the scene in 2010 with their brilliant debut Aquarius. This album comes on the heels of the majority of the band taking part in Mike Portnoyâ€™s Shattered Fortress tour, where the guys helped Portnoy relive some of this Dream Theater past for a lengthy jaunt to various venues around the world. Back again on their own now, Haken have reconvened and delivered another stunning album of melodic prog-metal that's long on hooks as well as their trademark musical virtuosity.
After an opening synth led instrumental barrage, the group jump in with the catchy "The Good Doctor", a churning, hook laden rocker chock full of potent Ross Jennings vocals and some super crunch courtesy of guitar duo Charlie Griffiths & Rich Henshall. "Puzzle Box" again sees Jennings soaring to the heavens, Conner Green's bulbous bass lines locked in with Raymond Hearne's gymnastic drumming, the guitars shredding and Diego Tejeida's keyboards majestically creating the right amount of atmosphere. A good amount of electric drums and synths during the spacey middle section on this one, adding a cool modern, ambient feel that changes things up a bit before the rampaging metal attack comes crashing back in.
The epic 12+ minute "Veil" appears at the mid-way point of the album, and features guest guitarist Pete Rinaldi, adding his talents to this tumultuous track. Some blazing guitar & synths solos to be found here, perhaps the influence of playing with Portnoy seeping into the music a tad, but as Haken always seem to do, look for plenty of their trademark hooks and atmospheric interludes. A great track! "Nil By Mouth" is an absolutely scorching instrumental, the complex passages of guitars & keys weaving around each other with the bass and drums equally dynamic...killer stuff. Things settle down for the gorgeous "Host", as gentle piano, acoustic guitar, and guest flugelhorn from Miguel Gorodi lend some tranquil elements over which Jennings lays down his heartfelt vocals. Don't get too settled in though, as the band tear it up on the raucous closer "A Cell Divides", a bombastic yet highly melodic number with jackhammer rhythms and layer upon layer of crunchy riffs and dazzling synths. It's a fantastic ending to another impressive album from Haken.
The tail end of 2018 has seen some outstanding progressive metal releases from Seventh Wonder, Tomorrow's Eve, and Michael Romeo, and you can add Haken's Vector to that list. The 2CD set also features instrumental versions of all these songs, which is something InsideOut seems to like doing these days, but omitting Jennings' excellent vocals from these songs are probably only worth a listen or two at most. His contributions greatly help what makes this album so damn good. Highly recommended!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Clear (01:54)
2. The Good Doctor (03:57)
3. Puzzle Box (07:44)
4. Veil (12:36)
5. Nil By Mouth (06:56)
6. Host (06:47)
7. A Cell Divides (04:58)