Admittedly being a bit late on the Haken train, I did feel a bit odd about being amongst 100’s of dedicated fans to celebrate 10 years of being on top of the British Progressive metal chain. It was ever so welcoming though, and an equally monumental London performance.
Over the years that progressive metal has evolved, Haken have come to be a key player in the field, holding the British flag for a genre that is generally dominated by the European continent. It’s been 10 years since the band’s inception, and 7 since the release of the debut ‘Aquarius‘, and it’s almost unarguable that the Englishmen have not set a foot wrong.
Rewinding back to releases such as ‘Visions‘ up to the current ‘Affinity‘, where the band was introduced to me, Haken have put out some fine progressive metal touching on a huge variety of influences and seamlessly incorporating it into atmospheric verses of 8-stringed metal.
It’s an instance where I wish I had followed Haken through their career – any fan that was attending their Islington Assembly Hall show tonight would have unfolded their arms and dropped their jaw at the notion I had only begun listening to this band last year. As shown through the evening, it’s hard to argue with them why I shouldn’t have been listening to them sooner. They begin their set, and it’s almost instant justification on why this band continue to make such a stamp in the progressive metal scene.
Shows like these do tend to bring out the stereotypes in progressive metal fans – the folded arms and the occasional scratching of the neckbeard, but music like Haken’s completely merits those little things that internet memes love to jump on. It’s something to watch in awe – as much as you watch tracks like ‘1985‘ and ‘The Architect‘ performed live, the sheer complexity of ability required in executing the music is mind-boggling. Even more so in the fact that the sound is flawless in this celebratory evening.
As a newer Haken fan, I have not been able to master the analysis of older tracks like ‘Visions‘ and ‘Cockroach King‘ that brought back old bassist Tom MacClean for another hurrah, but what was evident throughout the evening is how loyal Haken fans are, and how much respect they really show for the art that they have been putting on display for the plast decade. Fans knew everything, from singing every lyrics to playing every solo on air guitar or air keyboard.
Haken is truly a band for the 21st century, and I was really glad to be a part of the performance in the city that started their journey. It was the most energetic and engaging performance I have seen from a progressive metal band in a long time, and it’s clear that there are still many years left on the musical agenda given that each and every one of their albums just seem to get better and better. There are more territories to conquer, and it seems these Englishmen are just about ready to be as big as Dream Theater. If they keep performances like this up, I have no doubt they will get there.