Haken shows off prog metal chops with ambitious ‘Visions’

This is the future that Bill & Ted envisioned, where 20 years after the birth of Wyld Stallyns, metal rules the world. The best days of prog are oft-thought to be behind us, but Haken provides a fairly strong argument against that notion with “Visions.”

The English band’s sophomore album paints a soundscape that ebbs and flows with brilliant precision. “Visions” is an event to enjoy from start to finish. It opens with a short symphonic introduction in “Premonition,” swiftly transforming into the hard driving guitar that is the core of all good metal. “Nocturnal Conspiracy” follows with Ross Jennings’ velvet vocals, gorgeously juxtaposing the heavy electronics upon which they’re laid.

Haken is a young band, but has its craft tuned like veterans. They take masterful command over the layered lead and rhythm guitar parts, each chord a stunning catharsis. Midway through, “Portals” will exorcise your demons and crush them into dust before you can say “Dream Theater,” with its series of frantic licks and crashing drums.

Portals

“Visions” concludes with a 22 minute self-titled epic (as prog albums are wont to do), which serves to showcase the band’s skills in one bombastic final blow.

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