November 10th, 2014
Release length: 1:12:44
The album kicks off with the jumbled mess that is “The Point of No Return”, which is not an aptly titled track as there is a point of return on this track. While it starts off normal for a Progressive effort, it quickly jumps into that carnival music that aforementioned carnival music, except it sounds horrible, not even good for the twisted sound the band is going for. Once you get past that and the music kicks in, it’s actually great and the band really shows their skills, it’s just that it keeps jumping around all throughout the song. One minute you’re listening to some solid Progressive Rock, then you’re off to some Jazz, then it sounds almost like a children’s album that focuses on keyboards, to Death Metal! The only thing really going for this track is that when the music stays within a normal Progressive boundary, it does it’s job well of setting an atmosphere that really reflects the Aquarius title of the album, almost sending you off as if you were listening to a band that came from Atlantis or something of the sorts.
But the ambience doesn’t end with “The Point of No Return”. Luckily this setting that the band composed follows you throughout the entire album, especially with the following track “Streams”. “Streams” is also where the album seems to get a little more focused and doesn’t really jump around as much, but it really doesn’t pick up until you hit the more ballad-oriented track “Aquarius”, which is a very powerful track that really showcases the singing abilities of the band’s vocalist, where as “Streams” really shows the band’s musical abilities. And, of course, with the ambience of the epic oceanic feel the album has, there’s also the following carnival sound. Luckily that’s only at it’s longest on “The Point of No Return”, as it does appear again on the track “Eternal Rain”, but is a different melody all together through keyboards, and again on “Celestial Elixer” which goes a little further with the carnival music that appears on “The Point of No Return”, but also brings back the aforementioned ambience, which does get a bit lost around the time fo “Drowning In the Flood”.
The only problem with this release aside the jumping around the happens on the first track, would be the rather long track lengths. While sometimes, the band can pull of long and entertaining tracksw, such as “Aquarius”, sometimes it doesn’t work out that well for the band. “Drowning In the Flood” is not that bad a track, but could have been better, and “Celestial Elixer” really just leaves the listener wishing it would end. The latter song’s nearly seventeen minute track length is impressive enough with the simple fact that the band actually manages to pull off a somewhat entertaining track for so long, the song suffers the same fates as “The Point of No Return” thanks to the rather abrupt song style changes, which happen to include music that sounds like it came out of some old black and white Disney animated cartoon show of an episode from the wild West, which shortly after features a rather nice keyboard solo. The problem is that the song becomes rather repetative and boring after a while, clearly being drawn out through longer then needed bridges and verses, on top of the musical change-ups and random instruments that appears such as a tuba.
Aquarius is a veritable Progressive dream album. The material on this album is stunning and overall a breathtaking effort that only falls short due to the fact that the two most time consuming tracks really seem to hold the album back thanks to various issues within the music. Aside that, the band has managed to create a beautiful album that really does it’s job well of making a rather epic setting for the listener to be transported to, and shows off the band’s obvious musical talent. In the realm of Progressive music, if you’re looking for something beautiful and well composed, then Aquarius by Haken is a must hear.
01. The Point of No Return – 11:27
02. Streams – 10:14
03. Aquarius – 10:40
04. Eternal Rain – 6:43
05. Drowning In the Flood – 9:28
06. Sun – 7:19
07. Celestial Elixer – 16:56
|Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10
via Earsplit PR.