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Haken: Fauna

Haken always have a story to tell and a message to bring, but arguably they’ve delivered their strongest album, The Mountain, when the idea tying the songs together was a little less narrow and a little more abstract. Fauna would appear to follow that train of thought, its songs each having a ‘spirit animal’ guiding them, while possessing a character as distinct as those nine individual creatures. That wide variety also shines through in the music, each track presenting itself with a noticeable change in atmosphere. Thankfully, with it, the slide into the more obvious realms of progressive metal that the band’s last two albums signalled seems to have been brought to an almost complete halt here. Yes, Haken remain aggressive in places and there are enough riffs to hammer that point home, but Fauna feels much more nuanced and varied than either Vector or Virus.

My journey with this album has been a slow and steady one, with initial visits finding me a little underwhelmed if truth be told and raising a concern that for the first time Haken might have allowed their searing song writing to have gone off the boil. Now, with listens reaching into double figures and a few weeks being allowed to pass, nothing could be further from the truth, with elements of art rock, jazz and pop adding a hugely impressive sweep of emotions to a keenly crafted set of progressive rock songs. “The Alphabet Of Me” is a perfect example as it opens with keyboard sounds, electronic drums and dry vocals that almost take you into the world of the likes of Bastille. Ross Jennings’ singing adds a rhythmical counterpoint and with layered backing vocals, you think you have a handle on this relaxed outing, but then a much more energetic burst, replete with tumbling guitar runs, changes your perspective.

“Elephants Never Forget” is the longest track, and in many ways it feels like a joyous way for Haken to celebrate some of their influences, a Queen like burst of bombast quickly giving way to a dancing spurt of Gentle Giant-ness that’s as blatant a lift as you could hope to find. Thankfully, with it being just another section in this 11 minute journey, rather than hitting as too close to its source for comfort, it actually offers up a hugely involving joining section for other ideas to gather round. With keyboard player Pete Jones welcomed back on board for this album, the chemistry between him, guitarist/keyboardist Richard Henshall and guitarist Charlie Griffiths is as organic as it is invigorating. Although, that said, there is arguably a lack of out and out guitar solos as you take the steps through this album.

From the slightly more straight ahead opener “Taurus” to the closing underplayed off-kilter “Eyes Of Ebony” there isn’t a moment here that comes over as throwaway or off hand and with the likes of the dramatic but catchy “Beneath The White Rainbow” adding yet another flavour, Fauna cleverly scratches all manner of musical itches before it comes to its conclusion.

Track Listing
1. Taurus 

2. Nightingale 

3. The Alphabet Of Me 

4. Sempiternal Beings 

5. Beneath The White Rainbows 

6. Island In The Clouds 

7. Lovebite 

8. Elephants Never Forget 

9. Eyes Of Ebony

Added: March 1st 2023
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Haken Store
Hits: 1391
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Haken: Fauna
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Haken: Fauna
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Haken: Fauna
Posted by Patty Black on 2023-09-07 20:54:36
My Score:

Haken's latest album, "Fauna," showcases their musical evolution. With each track guided by a 'spirit animal,' the album offers a diverse and nuanced listening experience, deviating from the more predictable paths of progressive metal found in their previous albums. While the band maintains their aggression and impressive riffs, "Fauna" stands as a testament to their creativity. It's an album worth exploring, much like delving into well-crafted essays about it, available from buy pre written essays.

Haken: Fauna
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Haken: Fauna
Posted by Frank S. Castro on 2023-03-06 03:26:07
My Score:

Watching vocalist Ross Jennings unbox each edition of this album on the Haken YouTube channel made me realize how STELLAR Dan Goldsworthy's art is for this record. It faithfully represents the eclectic nature of the music and the brilliant concept of songs having spirit animals. As a result, I immediately ordered the Media Book Edition that has a Bonus Disc with the Instrumental versions and I imagine vinyl owners will be content with the magnificent wallpaper within this version of the album.

Having 'The Mountain' as the gold standard in my book, my expectations for this release were unclear. I was both nervous and anxious about Haken's seventh studio record to the point of listening to the singles before the full album release (something I don't usually do).

The first two singles, 'Nightingale' and 'The Alphabet of Me', didn't really captivate me at first, but these songs are growers for sure. The third single 'Taurus' easily got my attention with its heavy intro combined with Ross' catchy vocals on the chorus - a smart move to have this song as the opening track. Prior to the album release, I had the pleasure of hearing the fourth single, 'Lovebite', a song that combines headbanging arrangements, emotional vocals, and lyrics that depict the sometimes-gruesome nature of love.

After the release, I was satisfied with the heavy sections that "Sempiternal Beings" and "Beneath the White Rainbow" had to offer. Near the end, I could spot probably the strongest track of the record, 'Elephants never forget’. This one does indeed feel like a love letter to Gentle Giant and it includes significant elements that make one cherish songs like 'The Cockroach King'. For instance, the lengthy nature of track, quirky sounds, and the overall outburst of creativity going on.The album ends with 'Eyes of Ebony' and the pleasantness of its keyboard arrangements made this song easily become an earworm.

'Fauna' feels like going on a safari of emotions that may have listeners part ways on which the most memorable moments are. Does 'Fauna' surpass the first albums though? I think the answer is obvious right from the start. I find it nonetheless a tad more enjoyable than 'Virus' and 'Vector'. Even re-visiting these predecessors after listening to 'Fauna' over 10 X enhanced my appreciation for them.

It will be fun to see which material of this album appears in future tour sets.

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