Rating:
7.6
Haken - Visions
25 October 2011


01. Premonition
02. Nocturnal Conspiracy
03. Insomnia
04. The Mind's Eye
05. Portals
06. Shapeshifter
07. Deathless
08. Visions


Visions, the sophomore effort by the up-and-coming UK proggers Haken is a bitter-sweet deal. After the break-through debut, Visions had a lot to live up to, and to a certain extent this new album can be considered a success due to some positive developments in songwriting and retention of the elements that made Aquarius so great, like the palpable heaviness, signature wacky, "avantgarde" passages, and very impressive musicianship. Nevertheless, not everything shines out on Visions, but let us start this analysis from the end, the title track.

It baffles me how Haken managed to write such a monumental track (22 minutes) and make it interesting from start to finish while they could not accomplish that with many shorter ones. The title track exhibits all sorts of ideas, which flow from one to another without much ado: simply and elegantly. "Visions" takes almost a third of the album, and during its changing themes, it never gets tiresome. Maybe that should not have surprised me so much since Aquarius ended with a great 17-minute-long epic, but I guess, in the context of long songs, the simultaneity of sheer eclecticism and truly prodigious cohesion is just too overwhelming.

Most other songs took so much time to settle in that I started thinking very seriously what it was that marred a seemingly great prog album when it finally clicked that the answer was the vocals. While instrumentally Visions is quite worth one's listening time (for example, see what a progressive tour de force the instrumental "Portals" is), Ross Jennings's voice simply cannot hold a candle to everything that happens at the background. It is not that the vocal lines are boring - no, those are very fitting and at times quite original; the real problem is in the execution. I don't want to be an asshole, but from whichever perspective you look at those vocals, they are weak, and "weak" is very literal: both on calm parts, like the sentimental "Deathless," and especially on heavier ones. It often sounds like Ross Jennings's voice is just about to falter, as if he could not confidently control it, and this fact is even more perplexing because he sounded quite good on the debut (although many would disagree).

The bottom line is Visions offers enough meat to feed demanding prog fans, especially due to its great instrumentation and phenomenal title track, but fails to quench the thirst quite completely due to the underwhelming vocals.

Performance: -
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Haken
Album: Visions


 


written by Kulu | 28.02.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Darkside Momo - 28.02.2012 at 14:35  
Totally agree with you on that one - great album, somewhat marred by the not-up-to-awesomely-high-standard vocals...
R'Vannith - 28.02.2012 at 14:52  
I still haven't returned to this one, the vocals are what gave me a bad impression too I think. Great review.
Darkside Momo - 28.02.2012 at 15:03  
Honestly, they're not that bad at all... But they're clearly not good enough compared to the musicianship..
notpete@gmail.com - 28.02.2012 at 15:05  
Wow! I thought the reviewer was totally wrong but everyone seems to be concurring.. I enjoy Visions more than the previous album. And the vocals+lyrics of Deathless is what grabbed me to listen to more of them.
tea[m]ster - 29.02.2012 at 03:52  
Nice writing Ktulu!
To me it's just another Aquarius. Not a bad thing. If it ain't broke don't fix it!
Also, The musicianship is off-the-charts but the one thing that holds me back with this band is the awful vocals.
INÆRIS - 29.02.2012 at 04:18  
I thought this album was very solid. For a while I'd spin it 2-3 times a day and it wouldn't get old. I very much enjoy this album.
Introspekrieg - 04.05.2012 at 08:51  
You guys are crazy... I think the vocals are excellent. But blah blah to each their own opinions assholes blah blah...
Candlemass - 16.09.2012 at 13:10  
I don't think you gave this release enough time. The vocals are great in my opinion, at first I was also somewhat turned off (not by his excellent abilities, but his quality of voice).
I think it's the best prog metal albums in years.
I guess someone should write another review on this one.
Kulu - 16.09.2012 at 14:45  
Written by Candlemass on 16.09.2012 at 13:10

I don't think you gave this release enough time. The vocals are great in my opinion, at first I was also somewhat turned off (not by his excellent abilities, but his quality of voice).
I think it's the best prog metal albums in years.
I guess someone should write another review on this one.

I think I did give it enough time. I know the band from the previous release, which I pretty much adore. Then I was listening to Visions for some 3 months before writing the review. But then, of course, someone could always write a different review defending a different opinion...
Evil Chip - 24.09.2012 at 06:46  
Had this in my mp3 player for over 3 months but I could only hear the first song without skipping it.
Kulu - 27.09.2012 at 00:17  
Written by Evil Chip on 24.09.2012 at 06:46

Had this in my mp3 player for over 3 months but I could only hear the first song without skipping it.

The title track is pretty ingenious if you ask me, and although it is 22 minutes long, at the end of the day it is much easier to get into and enjoy than all others.
Evil Chip - 27.09.2012 at 04:02  
Written by Kulu on 27.09.2012 at 00:17

Written by Evil Chip on 24.09.2012 at 06:46

Had this in my mp3 player for over 3 months but I could only hear the first song without skipping it.

The title track is pretty ingenious if you ask me, and although it is 22 minutes long, at the end of the day it is much easier to get into and enjoy than all others.

I never got to that song. I may put the album back to just hear that song. The other songs were good (good breaks, cool atmosphere, catchy and "deep") but I was not impressed.

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