Haken are a full-fledged modern progressive rock band hailing from London, England. Their sound has evolved from the prog metal on 2010's Aquarius and 2011's Visions to a shapeshifting, kaleidoscopic amalgam of progressive metal, jazz syncopation, hooky electronic pop, and anthemic rock & roll, as heard on mature statements such as 2013's The Mountain. Along the way, Haken's ability to craft hooks inside songs led them into unusual -- for them -- territory: The band actively wove new wave elements into their sound for 2016's Affinity, their international breakout album, thanks in no small part to first single and video for "Initiate."
Formed in 2007 by To-Mera guitarist and keyboardist Richard Henshall, Haken initially underwent a few lineup shuffles; the group's personnel settled with singer Ross Jennings, guitarist Charlie Griffiths (of Linear Sphere), keyboardist Diego Tejeida, bassist Thomas MacLean (also of To-Mera), and drummer Ray Hearne. On the strength of their first demo in 2008 -- aided by extensive touring -- they signed with Sensory Records in 2010 to release Aquarius. Blending prog metal with influences from '70s art rock giants (Genesis, Kansas, etc.) and more contemporary ones (Porcupine Tree, Opeth), they quickly followed up with Visions in October 2011. Haken's third album, the influential The Mountain, arrived in 2013 via Inside Out Music. It brought elements of Queen and Led Zeppelin into their mix of sounds. It would be the last to feature bassist Thomas MacLean. His replacement, American bassist Conner Green, came on board in time to record 2014's Restoration EP, which contained several reworked versions of songs from their 2008 demo. Meanwhile, writing had already begun for their fourth full-length, produced by longtime collaborator Jens Bogren. Inside Out issued the pre-release single "Initiate" in March 2016, followed by a second, "The Endless Knot," in early April. The completed album, Affinity, was released at month's end during the band's European tour. The two years of touring that followed resulted in more favorable press and a greater recognition among listeners for Affinity, but also the concert offering L1ve in the summer of 2018, recorded at a gig in the Netherlands on the occasion of the band's tenth anniversary. Released as a four-disc set combining audio and video of the performance that included tracks from their entire catalog. Near the end of the year, Haken issued its fifth studio album, Vector. In sharp contrast to Affinity, they discovered early in the writing stage that they were all thinking "heavier" and therefore explored a more metal direction. To that end, Haken enlisted recording and mixing engineer Adam "Nolly" Getgood (well-known for his work with Sikth, Devin Townsend Project, and Periphery) and once more produced the set themselves. First single and video "The Good Doctor" ramped up interest from the rock and prog press. The album was issued on October 26, four days before the band embarked on a North American tour. In addition to their own shows, Haken also opened for Townsend on sold-out tours of Europe and the States. Upon return, they went straight back into the studio to begin writing.
After releasing The Mountain in 2013, fans continually asked the band about the identity of "the Cockroach King" from the song of the same name (its video included appearances by the Muppets). The band grew deeply interested in exploring it as a musical question, so they essentially did that through our music; elaborated and expanded on the intervallic, harmonic, rhythmic, and lyrical themes of the song. The result proved an arc that carried through Vector and 2020's Virus; the latter issued in early June at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas the former recording provided the character's origin story, the seven songs on Virus portrayed its ascent to power, resulting in tyranny and a subsequent endgame. Virus was produced by Haken and mixed by Adam "Nolly" Getgood. ~ Timothy Monger & Eduardo Rivadavia