» Blog Archive Prog Double Shot: Haken & Ihsahn -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

Because it’s not possible to go in depth with every single album, and two highly progressive releases have released in such close proximity, here’s, in brief, summaries on the Ihsahn and Haken albums.

affinityHaken – Affinity: If you like prog in any shape or form in 2016, then you like Haken. There’s no denying it, as these guys have been on the forefront of the genre, especially following the massive success that was The Mountain back in 2013. While The Mountain is surely a crowning achievement, some pacing towards the end of the album made the last two tracks a little rough to get through, even if Haken’s songwriting and musicianship are nothing short of amazing.

Affinity avoids that problem entirely. The album flows between technical prowess and top-tier songwriting, with all the spectacle you’ll want. “Initiate” has plenty available for you, while “Earthrise” changes the dynamic of their music entirely. Not without its quirky, fusion-esque moments, Haken use these in good taste, but the dubstep wubs or the Power Windows-era Rush homage on “1985” might alienate anyone expecting straight up prog, Affinity is without a doubt the band’s most accomplished work.

 

IHashnIhsahn – Arktis.: Ihsahn is no doubt in a league of his own, but even he has his own conventions when it comes to his writing style. That’s not a bad thing, especially when he’s able to keep moving forward, especially after an experimental step like 2014’s Das Seelenbrechen. Arktis is a varied, explorative experience that takes the experimental concept from Das Seelenbrechen and fuses it with the core sound of Ihsahn’s first four studio albums, allowing him to branch out in a multitude directions. Less blackened, perhaps? Definitely, but more progressive.

There may be a lack of black metal on the album, pushing Ihsahn further away from his roots, but metal without a doubt. “Mass Darkness” proves that Ihsahn is just as melodic and aggressive as ever. “South Winds shows him dip his feet into some electronic-industrial tidbits, never going too far into the genre and pulling you back into familiar territory. “Celestial Violence” plays with dynamics and has a guest appearance from Leprous vocalist Einar Solberg. The later half of the album can prove to be a little slow and uneventful, but they’re few and far between. Even still, when tracks like “Until I Too Dissolve” are just so good somewhere in the middle, it’s hard to complain about much going on with this album.

(Note: Both albums actually have an appearance by Einar Solberg, as well as The Wretched End’s In These Woods, From These Mountains.  He’s a busy guy, and if you’re not listening to Leprous yet, go do that.)

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