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Haken: Virus
Haken - Virus Album Art

Haken: Virus

Progressive Metal

Once more we revisit English progressive metal band Haken and their latest and sixth studio album, Virus. No, the album has nothing to due with the current COVID-19 pandemic which encircles the world. But the timing is ironic. Here's what I know.

Haken - Click For Larger Image


Attempting to summarize the promotional one-sheet, Virus lightly picks up where 2018's Vector left off. I never really caught the thematic content of that album, so here's what the band says, and I quote at length: "If Vector was an origin story, Virus portrays an ascent to power, tyranny and subsequent endgame. The opening track, Prosthetic, bridges the two albums where scars of institutional abuse are brought into focus. This 6-minute onslaught of brutal riffing starts the spread of a virus that affects all aspects of our lives, be they biological, psychological, technological, environmental or political." Largely, we're re-introduced to Haken's prog formula which consists of a barrage of dense riffage, staccato blast beat drumming, thick and heavy bass lines, and the eventual guitar solo. You can add to these arrangements another sin qua non of a Haken song: the juxtaposition of heaviness and lightness, the later often in the vocal parts. This is notable in a song such as Carousel, and more apparent in Canary Yellow.

Virus also includes the five-part, 17 minute prog suite, Messiah Complex, which references 2013's The Mountain and the song The Cockroach King. Again, quoting the one-sheet, Haken explains: Messiah Complex "explicitly and unapologetically references The Mountain era’s source material; with a familiar, yet twisted reprise of a Gentle Giant-style a cappella vocal counterpoint, as well as plenty more Easter eggs to discover." I barely remember what I ate for dinner seven hours ago, so my recollection of The Mountain is thin at best. Suffice to say, Messiah Complex is heavy and dense, pounding and intense, repeating once more Haken's consistent compositional techniques. There is a calm, somewhat a cappella, vocal segue that separates A Glutton For Punishment from Marigold. And Ectobius Rex offers a light guitar breakdown about three minutes in, with a fine choral-like vocal arrangement following. But the aforementioned crush of riffage, thundering bass, and blast beats continues. So the conclusion is simple: if you're a Haken fan, you will be quite pleased with Virus as the album is all Haken through and through. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

The conclusion is simple: if you're a Haken fan, you will be quite pleased with Virus as the album is all Haken through and through.

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