Review: Haken – Restoration

As a man who worships brevity in almost all life situations, including work meetings, small talk, and especially unwarranted social gatherings, it seems odd that I enjoy just the opposite when it comes to art. I am often entranced by long, brooding, attention testing movies like There Will be Blood, novels like Infinite Jest, and music with extended conceptual themes. In life, I can’t stand when people dance around the point. Or even worse, dance until they realize there is no point. In art, the point should be the entirety of the thing, not just a piece of it. The “takeaway” shouldn’t need to be explained by the villain right before he dies. Great artists make unfolding the focus, and not the gimmick twist conclusion.

When it comes to Haken, I could listen to them unfold a song for hours and never experience a dull moment. It never feels like they are stringing us along to display progressive-rock-wankery that so often plagues the genre. With their release of The Mountain, Haken announced their ambition to dominate the genre, and this EP, Restoration, reassured their status.

When you release an EP with three songs and one of them approaches twenty minutes, the other two will eventually disappear into a deep discography. As of now, those two songs, Darkest Light and Earthlings, are not to be missed, but Crystallized will never be forgotten.

 

 

Throughout Crystallized , there are rapid and unexpected tone changes, ranging from ethereal, to heavy, to just plain obnoxiously silly, and almost every attempt hits its mark. Its unpredictability is thoroughly reinforced by some of the most interesting transitions that progressive rock has to offer. My favorite series of transitions occurs between 8:00-10:00, where they inexplicably go from an Octavarium-esque keyboard section, to a complicated vocal syncopation, to a medieval-sounding acoustic riff.

Throughout Restoration, Ross Jennings uses the same sing-with-the-rhythm-and-tone style that I found fascinating about The Mountain.  The band’s ability to incorporate vocals in the foundation of the song (and not just a layer on top of the instrumentals) will be what sets them apart. At every turn, Haken remind you how much fun music can be when the expected is challenged.

Like any restoration, this one is not without a few stumbles. They have proved in albums past that they can approach and expand on the heavier side of progressive rock, but the heavy sections on the EP fail to impress me. There are sections that echo the so-often-used chugging technique that produces a heavy aura, but actually sounds more like a facade than the real deal. Conversely, some sections try too hard to do something new and they tend to be abrasive against the many smooth successes. The album has faults, but it’s hard to blame them when every minute sounds like an experiment in uncharted territory.

Allow yourself to become entranced by each minute of Restoration.  If one minute is not to your liking, don’t give up because the next will make you forget it. Enjoy the unfolding, because the conclusion will beg you to crumple it up and unfold it again.

NO FLUSH

[Editor’s Note: To clarify: Flushing is a bad thing. Not flushing is a good thing.]

 

(Image via)

(Buy it here)

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Published on: October 28, 2014

Filled Under: Reviews

Views: 1638

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  • lolbuttz.

  • I’ll give this a shot. I found the last thing I heard by Haken to be somewhat snooze-inducing but maybe I’m a bit more open to it now. We’ll see…

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      Lol it’s probably not for you, but I appreciate you humoring me.

    • Prog is exactly the kinda thing I’m not into but I really enjoyed Crystallised.

    • Edward

      Flippin’ fantastic album cover though.

      • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

        that cover is DA cover!!

    • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

      i’m in the minority that didn’t enjoy The Mountain.. too long and circly to my taste :/

  • Edward

    1) great review. It made me interested to check this thing out.

    2) The There Will Be Blood reference in the opening >>>>>>

    I’d like to read Infinite Jest at some point.

    3) I think that Editor’s Note should be on all reviews, lol.

    • Hahaha, I think we might have to. We’ve confused the hell out of a few bands.

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      IJ is a monster. It requires so much attention and almost everyone quits after like 250 pages. I’ve given up on trying to tell people to read it haha

      • I’ve tried 3 times. Cannot do it.

        • YourLogicIsFlushed

          I have an inability to give up on things, and the person that recommended it to me wanted to test that. That jerk lost that battle, and introduced me to some grade A literature at the same time.

          • W.

            The only book I remember giving up on is The Western Lands by Burroughs.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Atlas shrugged? Couldn’t do it. Only Rand I can’t do. Alastalon Salissa is another (probly never translated) literally a hundred pages about the thoughts of a man choosing which pipe to smoke.

            sorry.

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            I won’t read any Rand, so that’s probably a good thing

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I liked The Fountainhead as a piece of literature. But in Atlas Shrugged the philosphical weight was just too much (cause I don’t like her philosophy)

          • I got a fair amount of the way through Atlas Shrugged before I realized literally ANYTHING I did would be a more productive use of my time.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            And that’s why you love us so.

          • W.

            As if your limp wrists have the strength to slam that locker door.

          • oooooOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH

          • They’re not limp, they’re dainty.

          • W.

            I bet you wear a men’s small.

            (I do too :()

          • Are you talking gloves or shirts?

          • W.

            Bof 🙁

          • HAHA, NERD!

          • good guy W

          • i heard the movies were good 😉
            RT #1 – 11%
            RT #2 – 5%
            RT #3 – 0%

          • They had to crowdfund to pay for parts 2 & 3 if I’m not mistaken. How bout them bootstraps!

          • Edward

            Which movies were these?

          • those are the atlas shrugged movies. that’s what each one has on rottentomatoes!

          • Edward

            Blood Meridian was a fantastic book, but so dense and difficult.

            Cormac McCarthy >>>>>>

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            I have only read The Road by him, and damn that is a fine book.

          • Edward

            I read that as well, and I completely agree.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Don’t know why but I wanna hate him. But I can’t, The Road, Sunset Limited etc. Too good.

          • Lacertilian

            Greg Proops is always raving about that book on his Smartest Man In The World podcast.
            Going to have to check it out one day.

          • Edward

            It’s a worthy challenge. It’s horrifically violent and quite entertaining. Prepare to invest some time in it, if I recall it is around 500 pages but a tough 500 pages, I have read longer books in less time. If you do read it we can talk about the ending!!!

          • Lacertilian

            Ok, I’ll buy it and get back to you in a month or two!
            (N.b. – I only read novels whilst shitting)

      • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

        You got my attention. I’m trying now.

      • Edward

        A good buddy out in Colorado has said it is easily his favorite book and he has read it more than once. He referred me to it because a lot of the book apparently focuses on 12 step meetings, and about how essentially everyone gives up their life for some thing. His and my taste usually line up pretty closely as far as music, films, TV, books etc. The Game of Thrones books (ASOIAF series) kinda crushed my desire to read for the better part of this year though.

      • dr.derelict

        the Eschaton vignette….

    • TWBB is SO good. one of the best movies ever.

      • Edward

        Jimmy did you see The Master?

        >>>>>>

        • W.

          I. Drink. Your. Milkshake!

          • Tyree

            I’m Finished!

          • Edward

            You’re just a bastard from a basket.

        • Tyree

          Have you seen the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. It looks incredible!

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            I have no idea how that is going to work. I read the book last year because Pynchon is the man, but I wasn’t too keen on it. But PTA almost never “goes by the book”. hehe

          • Edward

            Yes, and I wanna see it. All these movies are coming out of nowhere this fall / winter. Inherent Vice, Fury, Interstellar, Birdman, Nightcrawler, I wanna see them all.

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            John Wick. Everyone needs to see John Wick.

          • Edward

            Where did that movie come from? I never even heard of it before last weekend and I guess it has gotten amazing reviews and it’s a thing.

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            I listen to a ton of podcasts and a few of them have been talking about it over the past month. I think it was like fairly small production that just blew up in small indie film fests. So much rage.

          • Tyree

            SEEING IT TONIGHT!

          • Tyree

            Birdman is going to be so good!

        • nope, but i need to! (right?)

          • Edward

            Right.

            I thought it was excellent.

            It’s pretty weird, too.

    • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

      +1 to the third point!.

      i was pretty confuse when I came here to read reviews with all those ‘flush’ words in the site!! add the fact that i’m not an english user and you get the idea!! jajajaja

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    Hm, I gave it 1 flush because I thought it was very good but not flawless

  • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

    The intro Crystallized, the ending specifically must have been made for a fifth Indiana Jones movie.

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      And There Will Be Blood referwnces should be mandatory

  • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

    As good as Crystallized is, it’s flaws are that of every prog band ever. Actually more like the EP’s flaw. It’s not the best song on the release, but it’s inevitably the one that will be remembered. I am glad that Haken has taken some huge leaps recently and left behind the DT syndrome – never having written a song over ten minutes despite appearing so – and nail this one. But enough of the slander. Thanks to this and Mountain I love Haken. Agree, no flush

    • every song on The Mountain has a good hook that rears its pretty head every few minutes.

      • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

        I tried to get in with both Visions and Aquariu(m/s) but only got a few songs. The Mountain was AOTY material though.

  • Stockhausen

    Nice review! I really like Crystallized, that first vocal section is so cheesy but so awesome. Haken it to the streets, baby.

  • Tyree
  • Xan

    This is going to have to be a pass for me. It didn’t like it very much.

  • RustyShackleford

    Never listened to Haken before, so about to get on that shit later today. Although, more accurately, later this week as I listened to the new Devin Townsend about 1000 times before I listen to anything else. Unashamed fanboy. Yep!

    • YourLogicIsFlushed

      Just finished that myself. Only liked about half the songs on Sky Blue but Z2 was sweet.

      • RustyShackleford

        Agree. Huge Ziltoid fan, but I respect Sky Blue as a more personal musical thing for him, sort of like Ghost was (might be in the minority on liking that). Loved Casualties of Cool also, Devin is having a very busy and very impressive year haha

  • Beunhaas

    I want to listen to this right now. RIGHT NOW. Good review. How does the rating system actually work? I thought the flush system was the same as a regular system in reverse, but a lot albums are being reviewed with perfect scores, while the reviewer still points out flaws. I’m confuzzled once again.

    • Edward

      Flush – negative.

      No flush – positive.

      When the reviews were being rated on a 0 – 5 scale, a 0 would be the highest score for 0 flushes, i.e. nothing to flush.

      I am playing the Youtube video embedded on this post now, it’s… interesting. A lot different than what I was expecting with my limited knowledge.

      • YourLogicIsFlushed

        It’s straight no-nonsense prog rock, and by that I mean it’s total nonsense and amazing.

        • Edward

          It’s definitely fun. I’m about halfway through, these dudes kind of sound like elves lol

    • Haha, we tried to simply our confusing rating system and it has confused everyone even more.

      • Edward

        Before anyone explained it to me, the 0 – 5 rating system was a little confusing. I’m not confused by any of it anymore, but I could see why people would be. By the way, I give my original explanation to Beunhaas an 8.2

    • Lacertilian

      If you don’t flush your own turd, it’s because you have done a good one right?
      If you want to remove it from your household before you’re finished shitting, you give a half-time flush.

  • JWG

    The fact that their Facebook ‘about’ line specifically notes the pronunciation is like “Taken” specifically as in the Liam Neeson film makes me want to love this before I even press play.

    Also: if I had mad Photoshop skills I’d totally do a ‘Taken’ film poster mash-up deal on that album cover. That title pretty much begs to be respelled as “Neestoration”…

  • Further Down the Metal Hole

    I’ve set a rule for myself to listen to everything posted on this site at least once. The track record thus far has been amazing. At the very least, it’ll broaden my musical horizon, so looking forward to giving it a listen.

    • Edward

      I really was trying to do that for awhile, but I threw up my arms in outrage because this site produces too much music! Lol.