There are few albums that acquire your attention so quickly, and somehow, I missed Haken’s debut release Aquarius in March 2010. As the year draws to a close, this album has had several rotations on my playlist and there is no reason for it to leave any time soon. For a debut album, Aquarius has the polished glazed that often only appears on a band’s third or forth album.
Aquarius is a concept album about two parents who beget a mermaid child and release it into the river, knowing full well they could not properly raise it themselves. The mermaid child struggles to live in a changing environment as becomes surrounded by nature’s retaliation toward those responsible for global climate change.
The first glance at the track listing for Haken’s Aquarius is the presence of the ever-progressive length of the songs. Four songs surpass the ten minute mark and not one song is less that six minutes. “The Point of No Return” starts us off with a cluster fuck of melodies within an eleven minute epic. The song establishes and re-establishes many leitmotifs all with successful and glorious results. “Streams” starts with a piano driven introduction that is reminiscent of Venessa Carlton’s “A Thousands Miles” (I know, not very progressive) and continues this similarity for the first minute or so, but like the song before it, diverges from that path and provides an excellent example of vocalist Ross Jennings’ diversity. The final song, “Celestial Elixir” rounds out this spectacular album.
Much like we are currently living in or are experiencing the Age of Aquarius, this album, in my opinion, is a microcosm that reflects the changing landscape of progressive music. Haken uses typical progressive metal tropes and compositions in their song writing, surpassing the power metal sub-genre and supplanting itself comfortably in the progressive metal sub-genre. Haken’s sound mixes much of traditional progressive rock with contemporary progressive metal, a sheer blessing in today’s musical climate. Any fan who appreciates either period, more so that latter, will find Aquarius to be a stellar album and has lasting potential within the community.
2010 has been a dismal year for prog; all music for that matter. Even with such a downbeat year, Haken’s debut is a cornerstone to a band that appears to have momentum and staying power in the genre. However, this new found success points to a long period before a new album emerges. That is alright by me, Aquarius may be playing non-stop for the next several months.