UK progressive metal act Haken have long wanted to continue the story of the 'Cockroach King', a character first introduced on their landmark 2013 release The Mountain, and with Vector and now 2020's Virus, that story has now been told. Concept albums should be welcome to any genre fan these days, and when Haken have a story to tell, they pull out all the stops. Since bursting on the scene a decade ago, the band's music has steadily gotten heavier, more complex and even more epic every step of the way, and that continues here on Virus.
"Prosthetic" and "Invasion" are a lethal 1-2 punch to start the album, Raymond Hearne's nimble drums helping to propel the dynamic stop/start, almost djent styled riffing from Charlie Griffiths & Richard Henshall, while Ross Jennings' emotional vocals twist the lyrical tale. "Carousel' clocks in at over 10-minutes, lush Diego Tejeida keys give way to bombastic riffing and the dynamic rhythm team of Hearne & bassist Conner Green, with Jennings changing his delivery as the song goes from lush prog to crushing metal. The middle part of the song contains some intense exchanges between guitars & keys, the influence of Dream Theater apparent but it's still trademark Haken. "The Strain" and "Canary Yellow" are two more melodic numbers, with spacey keys and more atmospheric arrangements, which leads the listener into the five-part "Messiah Complex", 17-minutes of pure progressive metal bliss, complete with a wealth of inventive riffing, keyboards, and dynamite drumming. Plenty of soaring melodies as well, with Jennings delivering his most varied vocals on the album. Chops galore from everyone on this epic! This very energetic and powerful album ends on a tranquil note with "Only Stars", Jennings' far reaching, emotional vocals fading into the distance amid a wash of synths.
Another album, another winner from Haken, who are easily one of the brightest bands on the prog-metal circuit going today. Six full length albums into their career, and it appears there's no slowing down in sight. Highly recommended.
- The Strain
- Canary Yellow
- Messiah Complex i: Ivory Tower
- Messiah Complex uu: A Glutton for Punishment
- Messiah Complex iii: Marigold
- Messiah Complex iv: The Sect
- Messiah Complex v: Ectobius Rex
- Only Stars