Haken have rightfully made quite a name for themselves over the years, and what is particularly interesting to me with this one is just how varied it is in its outlook, which is both a blessing and a curse. The line-up has been pretty stable over the years, but here we find the departure of keyboard player Diego Tejeida, who had played on all the albums to date, but he has been replaced by the man he himself replaced, founding keyboard player Peter Jones. There is the impression that the band decided from the off to have no rules, and the result is a wonderfully chaotic release which brings in multiple versions of modern neo prog, and while they do occasionally grab a nod back to Gentle Giant, for the most part their influences are far more recent, encompassing styles such as mathcore, djent and fusion as well as other styles which to my ears do not work quite as well. There are some moments when they stay too long with some modern pop and dance themes, and I personally could have done well without them, but even when they are immersing themselves in genres I don’t listen to for pleasure, I could not help but admire the quality of the vocals and musicianship while the production is clean and powerful.

This is very much an album of its time, it feels incredibly polished and practiced within an inch of its life, with perfection strived for in every beat and a restlessness and need to move on which differentiates itself from many. Even progheads often find themselves repeating melodies and even falling into verse/chorus patterns, but Haken are determined to not fit into any stereotypical norms but instead keep pushing what they are doing and hoping the listeners will stay with them for the journey. It is only with repeated plays that one begins to understand the full joy of this release, and there is no doubt that the return of Peter has assisted in shifting them in a different direction. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, as while those looking for ‘The Mountain II’ will be somewhat disappointed, there is no doubt this is a very interesting release indeed.
8/10 by Kev Rowland