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I uttered one word after I had finished listening to Haken's third album 'The Mountain' for the first time and that was “WOW”. Even though they have been around since 2007 and two of its members are/were from To-Mera (a band I am familiar with), Haken themselves are a completely new entity to me and if the quality of this release is a good pointer to previous material, I'm going to be kicking myself for not knowing about them sooner. Haken are a six piece band from London and one of the few I can name who seem to seamlessly combine prog rock & neo-prog (Yes; Marillion; Rush) with progressive metal (later Opeth; Pagan's Mind; Threshold). One minute, a modern take of pure 70s’ prog is coming out of the speakers and then occasionally a riff Symphony X would be proud of is battering your senses, all rounded off with some quite sumptuous melodies. In fact, there are so many influences and styles weaved together that Haken leave you breathless with admiration. 'The Path' opens the album and is a beautiful piano and voice affair, almost like a lullaby. This leads into first track proper, 'Atlas Stone', a mix of prog rock, jazz and swing. Just for a second I wasn't sure about the delivery of Ross Jennings' vocals (he has quite a high register), but once the chorus hits it all makes sense. There is almost a Rush feel about some of this song and it's a pleasure to listen to. However, it is on next track, the eight minute plus 'Cockroach King', that Haken deliver the first of several absolute masterpieces on 'The Mountain'. This song has everything: a capella vocals, crazy time signatures, heavy and jazz guitar, wicked keyboards, melody that combines serenity with something a lot more dark and twisted, and lyrics that really make you think!

I could go on and on writing probably completely nonsensical passages about how this album makes me feel but you really have to discover it for yourselves to appreciate it fully. Just check out 'In Memoriam', the epic 'Falling Back To Earth' or the eastern flavoured 'Pareidolia' for proof. All I can say coherently is that it has given me the same goose bumps as two prog bands I reviewed for Metal-Discovery when I first joined as a writer just over a year ago, namely Distorted Harmony and Midwich Assembly. When I close my eyes I'm transported to somewhere magnificent but, thanks to the lyrical themes and fabulous album artwork, also somewhere foreboding and slightly evil. Along with Jennings, Richard Henshall (keyboards & guitar), Charles Griffiths (guitar), Thomas MacLean (bass), Diego Tejeida (keyboards) and Raymond Hearne (drums) have delivered an incredibly mature and beautiful album but also one which rocks in all the right places. Inside Out Music have certainly snapped up a winning band and 'The Mountain' will surely have to be considered as a contender for prog rock/metal album of the year. If it's not then I'll want a damn good reason as to why.
Inside Out
Review by Rick Tilley
2nd Sept 2013
1) The Path
2) Atlas Stone
3) Cockroach King
4) In Memoriam
5) Because It's There
6) Falling Back to Earth
7) As Death Embraces
8) Pareidolia
9) Somebody
"... 'The Mountain' will surely have to be considered as a contender for prog rock/metal album of the year."