Job : Haken’s new album ‘Vector’ is coming out at the end of October and it’s an album that many prog fans will have been awaiting eagerly. Let’s just get right to it: ‘Vector’ is heavier, rougher and definitely packs more of a punch than ‘Affinity’ (their masterwork, in my opinion). However, in that shift towards a heavier package, the band loses some of its uniqueness and theatrical flair. Let’s just walk through it, shall we?
‘Vector’ opens with the instrumental intro ‘Clear’, that sets the tone for an album that’s a lot more keyboard-focused at times. ‘Clear’ sounds vast, epic and it’s a great foreshadowing for a moment much later on the album. First single ‘The Good Doctor’ succeeds it and this is a Haken many will already be familiar with – this song wouldn’t have sounded misplaced on ‘The Mountain’ from 2013. Immediately, the theme for this record (it IS a concept record after all) is clear (no pun intended): a mysterious doctor has a deep interest in a psychotic patient with a fractured mind. ‘Puzzle Box’ opens up the toy box of Dream Theater influences and let’s be frank; this is what Dream Theater has been wanting to sound like for years and years but will probably never be able to again... Longer technical passages take center stage, and a great hook together make for an amazing song.
‘Veil’ is the epic on ‘Vector’. The listener is treated to a proggy masterpiece that spans nearly 13 minutes, with twists, turns and multiple different directions. The band at times seems to return to ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Visions’ almost on this song and it’s definitely the most complex song on the album, though nothing like ‘The Architect’, the epic from ‘Affinity’. Keyboards often take center stage on this song and the technical guitar work builds towards an awesome release in a very Rudess/Petrucci twin solo near the end. ‘Nil to Mouth’ is an instrumental that’s surprisingly djenty and has some very on-the-nose references to ‘Cockroach King’ from ‘The Mountain’. It’s not until ‘Host’ that we get a Haken that finally lets go some of that insane energy. The ballad-like song gradually evolves dynamically and it’s here that we return to ‘Clear’ as well. ‘A Cell Divides’ feels like the band giving it one last push to really hammer their sound home – this is everything that’s undoubtedly Haken and it’s a great closer with a strong hook.
‘Vector’ is an amazing work by a band that’s never disappointed and it’s another flag planted firmly in the ground by a band that I proudly consider the best in prog metal right now. However, a lot of what made ‘Affinity’ unique in its 80s-revival-worship goodness is tossed aside in favor of a heavier sound and mostly more direct approach. That doesn’t take away from the fact that ‘Vector’ is its own entity with all of its own intricacies to explore. People that expected an ‘Affinity II’ however, might be left behind.