Restoration (CD-EP)

SKU: 0506942
Label:
Inside Out Music
Add to wishlist 

"It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.

However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!

In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?

The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.

Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.

The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.

‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.

The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.

First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.

There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.

And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.

The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog

There are no review yet. Be the first!

Product Review

You must login or register to post reviews.
Laser Pic

customers also bought

SEE ALL
  • The madcap French jazz metal trio return with their sixth album.  Morglbl consists of guitarist Christope Godin, bassist Ivan Rougny, and drummer  Aurelian Ouzoulias.  The band has toured extensively around the world – USA, Europe, Russia and even China!  They have shared the stage with Liquid Tension Experiment, Bumblefoot, and Umphrey’s McGee among others.These three virtuosos are also well endorsed clinicians and have developed a following individually but when they come together the fireworks really start.  Tea Time For Punks doesn’t deviate from the tried and true Morglbl formula.  Take equal parts fusion and crushing metal power chords, then inject a healthy dose of tongue in cheek humor and you’ve got the perfect Morglbl album. The band is often described as Primus meets Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth, with flavors of Frank Zappa! 
    $13.00
  • "Originally released in 1979, these recordings show the first solo efforts by formerly Aera leader, guitar player and composer Muck Groh. But in fact this album wasnt a solo album but could be described at the third Aera album of Aeras first decade line-up. All those great musicians like sax player Klaus Kreuzeder, drummer Wolfgang Teske, violinist Christoph Krieger and a lot of guest musicians like Alto Pappert (formerly Kraan) and Aeras second decade musicians like Matz Steinke on bass and Limbus on percussions contributed to this great album. The first 4 titles on the CD (formerly A-Side of the album) are in the tradition of the second album "Hand und Fuss'. "Psychochinese im Stanzwerk" reminds to Amon Duul's Deutsch-Nepal. For the first time Muck Groh uses vocals in his compositions in a folky style and "Blinde Kuh" reminds a little bit to the early German new wave bands like Spliff or Nina Hagen Band. All in all this album shows many facets of Muck Grohs composer abilities and convinces with its clever arrangements. CD comes with comprehensive booklet with rare and unseen photos and there are 8 bonus tracks taken from a concert from 1981."
    $21.00
  • "The Aristocrats by any measure the hottest new band in instrumental rock/fusion today rewrote their own rules for their third studio album, Tres Caballeros. After two fairly raw trio albums, guitarist Guthrie Govan (Steven Wilson, Asia/GPS), bassist Bryan Beller (Joe Satriani, Dethklok) and drummer Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani) set up camp at legendary Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood, CA, where Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Van Halen all recorded landmark albums. The result: Nine new compositions of greater sonic depth and breadth than ever before, with unique textures and lush layering augmenting the band s preternatural ability to improvise at the highest levels possible. But it s all still tempered with a steadfast refusal to take themselves too seriously, and The Aristocrats are still having more fun than a fusion band has any right to have. We ve learned a lot since we started this band four years, three studio albums, two live DVDs and about a billion notes ago! and I think our latest offering reflects this in all kinds of ways, says guitarist Guthrie Govan. The decision to road-test our new material in front of a live audience before commencing the recording process; the choice to record in a studio which had some thoroughly inspiring rock'n'roll "mojo"; our sudden urge to become more bold and experimental with overdubs rather than feeling any pressure to record exclusively in a strict trio format... all of this has had some kind of positive effect on the way the new record came out. Plus, I think the material on this album is some of the most interesting stuff we ve ever written for each other, so... here s hoping our noble listeners will like the finished product as much as we do!"
    $13.00
  • First album in ten years from this Scottish neo-prog band. At this point the band consists of the trio of Stewart Bell, Cyrus Scott, and Phil Allen. I haven't listened to this band in years to be honest but I always remembered them as being one of the better neo bands. Everyone always compares Cyrus to Peter Gabriel but honestly he sounds more like Fish or Simone Rossetti of The Watch. Actually he sounds a lot like Rossetti the more I listen to him. The music really bears no resemblance to Genesis. Skies Darken is highly symphonic long form pieces. The music has a dark vibe to it enhanced a bit by Cyrus' dramatic vocal stylings.
    $15.00
  • Third album from this New Jersey symphonic rock band.  All of the band's albums are conceptual pieces based around literary works.  In fact the band's name is derived from a Ray Bradbury story.  On A Dark And Stormy Night is based on Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy novel of the same name.  The album is a wet dream for any fan of symphonic prog.  As I make my way through the album I'm frequently reminded of some similarities to Glass Hammer.  This is very keyboard driven music with a healthy amount of guitar leads.  There are even some nice Mellotron sounds popping up now and then.  These guys dream big and hit the mark.  Highly recommended.
    $11.00
  • Third Ion is a Canadian quartet who's music is squarely in the prog metal domain with a bit of a tech edge.  Oh yeah - I should mention that they have a bizarre obsession with video games.  With a background of playing in Into Eternity and The Devin Townsend Band you know straight away these guys have chops from hell.  This is one of those albums that can leave you off kilter as its constantly shifting directions but it has a melodic base to work from.  Vocals are totally clean and quite good - maybe a bit of a Maynard influence crops up here and there.  Keys are mainly used for texture but its important as a bed for the sick fretwork.  The insertion of "chiptune" sounds add an oddball factor - luckily they don't over do it.  So far 2015 has been a solid year for prog metal.  I expect Third Ion's debut to sit highly on top 10 lists at years end.  Highly recommended."Where to begin? Introducing the band Third Ion or my blatant skepticism about them? Actually both converge. Third Ion is a progressive metal band consisting of former members of Devin Townsend Project and Into Eternity. Their common interests revolve around prog, science, video games, which informs their music. So much so that lyrically the songs consider physics and metaphysics and, musically, the title track is written in 13/8 time signature. Moreover, all the songs will be released in 8-bit as an homage to early video games.And that's where my skepticism reared it's ugly head. Cripes. Chiptunes meets metal. Nintendo and Super Mario and their sparkle and glitter music invading my ear drums. And MIDI too. I hate that shit. And then to think of the players' former band background. No, not death vocals, too.But. Behold. My fears were unnecessary. 13/8Bit is some pretty classy and inventive melodic progressive metal, and there's no death metal vocals. Yeah, in the title track they do some of that Nintendo wonkery, but it's a rather cool and entertaining song, even playful. The songs are large on massive, but not deathly technical, riffs, inherent melody and harmony, and sufficient intrigue in arrangements. Then they're spiced by Justin Bender's spry and fierce guitar solos. Even bass player Mike Young gets to do so as within the second half of Particle Displacement Mechanism or Capitol Spill, by example. You'll also find Young's keyboards in the mix, notably within Time Lapse Beta, varying between simple piano to ethereal synths. Underneath, yet also nearly ubiquitous, are Aaron Edgar's drums, providing beat and rhythm, but also offering some flurries of poly-rhythms. Things do get slightly weird with the only instrumental, Van Halien. It sounds like chiptune, metal, and jazz fusion but, in the end, it's strangely convincing, even appealing. So my skepticism and fears were largely unfounded. Third Ion's 13/8Bit is creative and intriguing progressive metal, defintely worth your time and consideration. Recommended." - Dangerdog.com
    $10.00
  • There are not a lot of unreissued Italian prog albums from the Golden Era but little by little BTF Records is chipping away at them. This is a little known album from a one-off band, originally recorded in 1972 and not released until 1974 on the Pan Records label out of Munich, Germany (Pan was a weird label - they licensed New Trolls "Atomic System" as well). Collectors have known about this album for some time but it's eluded legit reissue until now. Hero was a trio consisting of Massimo Pravato (guitars), Robert Deller (vocals, keyboards), and Umberto Maschio (drums). The music has equal roots in hard rock and well as prog (as so many bands of the day did). Deller sings in English relatively accent free so my guess is he is an ex-patriate Brit or American. While Parvato's killer leads tend to dominate there is plenty of color on organ to lend comparisons to bands like New Trolls, Le Orme, Garybaldi and on a lesser level Black Widow and Uriah Heep. There is a pervasive dark vibe to the music and lyrics that evokes VDGG, Genesis and early Faithful Breath. BTF has done a spectacular job reissuing this disc with a bonus track, liner notes, and unreleased band photos. To top it off they stuck it one of those fancy mini-lp sleeves so we can all get nostalgic. Highest recommendation and one of the best reissues I've heard in years. And no...I'm not parting with my vinyl copy!
    $19.00
  • After a long silence Israel's best known death metal band returns. "Mabool" is the band's third album - a concept work with a Biblical theme. The band has always had a unique slant to their sound and it carries on here....it's an eclectic mix of death metal and Middle Eastern flavors. I always would kid about this band and describe their sound as "death metal goes to a bar mitzvah". Comes with a bonus disc in which the band does acoustic versions of some of their old material as well as a cover of "Mercy" from Paradise Lost. Avant-metal that really deserves to be heard.
    $7.00
  • If you love that classic hard rock sound of the 70s and 80s you will go crazy over this album plain and simple.  Alex Beyrodt reined in the neoclassical overtones just a bit, David Readman shines as always (LOVE this guy's voice).  The result is an album that evokes the spirit of Rainbow, Whitesnake, and Deep Purple.  I thought the last VC album was excellent - this one is even better!  Highly recommended.
    $14.00
  • Kick ass new band from Sweden who owe a strong debt to Captain Beyond.  The music is hard driving blues based hard rock with a definite retro feel.  Expensive but worth it!"No doubt Sweden's Captain Crimson were influenced by legendary '70s band Captain Beyond, deciding to name their debut album after the classic track "Dancing Madly Backwards" from that bands self titled debut in 1972. Otherwise though, Dancing Madly Backwards is another great Swedish retro ride, as so many bands from that country are doing a fine job of keeping those '70s sounds alive.Despite the band name and CD title obviously tipping their hat to Captain Beyond, the lads from Captain Crimson also tap into the vibe of such acts as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, Mountain, Cactus, UFO, Pentagram, Leaf Hound, Grand Funk Railroad, The Doors, and Humble Pie, as well as fellow Swedish acts Graveyard and Witchcraft. Loads of vintage fuzz-toned guitar riffs and solos abound, especially on the thick & muscular "River", the doomy "Lonely Devils Club", and the heavy blues-rock of "Mountain of Sleep". The band delivers some melancholy hard rock/blues on the poignant "Don't Take Me For a Fool", while "Autumn" brings to mind the early, aggressive garage rock of the MC5 and Grand Funk Railroad, complete with raucous, distorted guitar & bass riffs that scream 1969. "Wizard's Bonnet" is vintage sounding heavy rock complete with blistering lead guitar and meaty riffs, while "Silver Moon" and "True Color" could have easily been leftovers from Deep Purple's In Rock album, minus the Hammond organ. The closing title track has some wonderful Black Sabbath styled power chords over intricate rhythms, and the lead vocals have plenty of attitude, which in fact can be said about the entire album.Dancing Madly Backwards is a fun filled ride down memory lane, as Captain Crimson bring back images and sounds of so many great hard rock acts of the past, and do so in a convincing manner. You'll be headbanging and playing air guitar to this entire album, I promise you. Another winner from the folks at Transubstand/Record Heaven" - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • "Now We Have Light is the third Sanguine Hum album, following on from the acclaimed albums Diving Bell and the Weight of the World. Now We Have Light is a double CD concept album. Unusually with this record, it is also something that the band have been working on for over a decade, and its roots go right back to the days of Antique Seeking Nuns, which was the earliest project that guitarist Joff Winks and keyboard player Matt Baber collaborated on. During this time they hatched a truly bizarre conceptual story to hang even more music around - a work that perhaps was too ambitious for them at the time, and one which took the formation of Sanguine Hum to make it a feasible challenge to complete. Somewhat like a twisted mix of Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage and the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Now We Have Light is a future parable set in an entirely possible scenario, in which entirely impossible events start occurring.Although a core group of songs were written for this album as far back as 2002, the band were inspired by the most recent Sanguine Hum material to revisit the old tunes and where needed develop and rewrite what already existed, whilst also creating a large amount of brand new music at the same time. Ultimately, it has come to represent a definitive cross section of all the work that they have made as Antique Seeking Nuns, Joff Winks Band, Nunbient and Sanguine Hum thus far. Recorded once again in Oxford, at Evolution Studios, the double album features alongside Joff Winks and Matt Baber, original bassist Brad Waissman and, making his second studio appearance with the band, Henry Fool and No-Man drummer, Andrew Booker. Also, the band invited renowned UK jazz vibraphone player, Jim Hart, to perform on several tracks, which marks the first time that a guest musician has appeared on a Sanguine Hum album. The package comes wrapped in a striking cover of illustrations from graphic artist Meriel Waissman.Now We Have Light is arguably the finest album to date from Sanguine Hum, one of the most innovative bands in modern Progressive music." 
    $19.00
  • The latest from Roine Stolt and Co. is a 2 CD affair featuring plenty of trademark epic tracks. The Flower Kings have been able to perfect the balance between neo and old school prog.
    $12.00
  • Fifth album from the Polish prog band led by former Collage guitarist Mirek Gil.  The band clearly goes for a contemporary sound.  There are overt similarities to Riverside but the music has a more symphonic rock side.  I've always enjoyed Gil's guitar tone.  He plays with quite an expressive style.  In this case its nicely augmented by violin and keys.  Lots of prog coming from Poland.  Believe is one of the better bands to emerge from that scene.
    $15.00
  • Willowglass is the vehicle for British multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marshall.  He plays guitar, keys, and bass.  Accompaniment is courtesy of Hans Jorg Schmitz on drums and Steve Unruh on violin, flute, and guitars.The music is all instrumental and harkens back to the classic British progressive sounds of the 70s.  The album kicks off with the 20 minute "A House Of Cards Pt 1", which is a pure love letter to the Mellotron.  Reminds me a bit of King Crimson's Lizard.  The music never gets overly heavy.  Marshall tends to rely on acoustic guitar quite a bit and Unruh's violin figures quite prominently.  We always say they don't make 'em like they used to but apparently they still do.  If you miss the glory days of Genesis and Camel you need to fill that spot in your collection.  Highly recommended.
    $16.00