British progressive metallers Haken change a bit with every album, from the 70s prog of The Mountain, the 80’s love in Affinity, and the modern Metal of Vector and Virus. Their newest album Fauna is the most varied one yet, mixing their recent love for Djent with an absorbing mix of pop, melodrama, atmospheric moments and the expected prog rock weirdness.
Their restless spirit and fear of stasis has resulted in yet another good album, whose dense soundscape rewards repeated listens. To go with this is a unique concept, with each song related to a different animal and lyrics inspired by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The best example of the latter is the ode to Blade Runner ‘The Alphabet of Me’ – a pulsating track with electronic flourishes, rapid fire vocals, sumptuous pop hooks and Muse like flashes of melodrama. Similarly catchy is the black widow influenced ‘Love Bites’, an ‘80s soaked slice of art pop with a corker of a chorus. There are heavy moments here, with the thunderous guitars and subtle melancholia of opening track ‘Taurus’ getting the blood pumping.
‘Beneath The White Rainbow’, with its gloriously heavy groove and moody piano breakdown, indulges in the genre’s eccentricity, with some bizarre, distorted vocals towards the end. The prog minded eclecticism means that things never get boring, with ‘Nightingale’ taking you on a changeable journey from soft and light passages to heavy twists and metallic turns. Talking of changeable feasts, the best here is playful prog epic ‘Elephants Never Forget’ – a King Crimson-esque tale from the point of view of the elephant man and the circus his life became. It may sound odd and the 11 minute length oppressive but it’s unique story and multifaceted sound draws you in.
Fauna is the British sextet’s most varied album, mixing pop hooks, heavy metal, long epics, and a hefty dollop of proggy weirdness into one eminently memorable, if slightly long, offering.