Album of the Year 2018 – Number 3

Welcome to the pre-penultimate chapter of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. Today, it is the turn of the bronze medal record, the third best of the year. I’d begin this post with a far wittier and more interesting introduction were it not for the fact that I’m drinking my third large glass of port and brandy (trust me, it’s the drink of the Gods) and I’m acutely aware that I’m just over 24 hours from Christmas day.

As such, it is very much on with the show. But, as always, if you’ve missed any of my previous posts, you can head down to the bottom of this post to check out the links for numbers 30-5.

And now for the bronze medal of 2018:

Number 3:

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Haken
‘Vector’
InsideOut Music
Score of Much Metal: 9.5

If there was ever a post that proved once and for all that manofmuchmetal.com does not deal in nepotism or bias, it is this. I’m a Haken fanboy. Simple as that. From the moment that I interviewed the relatively unknown band in their tour van at ProgPower Europe in 2010, I knew that they were special. Actually, after a few spins of their debut, ‘Aquarius’, I knew it. I mean c’mon, I have ears and I like to think I have a decent taste in music. So it was obvious that I’d like Haken, given the quality that they clearly possessed. I have therefore spent as much time as possible supporting this great band either in person at gigs or in the form of the written word for both Powerplay and, more latterly, manofmuchmetal.com.

Every album release is an event for me, a time to rejoice and hopefully revel in excellent new music. And yet again, that proved to be the case with ‘Vector’. In fact, if I’m brutally honest, I had a more immediate connection with ‘Vector’ than ‘The Mountain’ and perhaps even ‘Affinity’. I was hooked from the very outset.

I find ‘Vector’ to be one of the most melodic and welcoming records of the band’s relatively short but successful career to date, not to mention one of the heaviest (huzzah – for I like heavy!!). From the first spin, there were moments on this disc that struck a chord with me and I knew I’d love them even more with repeated listens. Stylistically, ‘Vector’ seemed to be a continuation of the band’s steady evolution yet at the same time suggested a subtle homage to their past, with hints of each of their previous four albums to be heard within the seven tracks on ‘Vector’.

And now, I find this to be the album of a highly confident, competent and well-oiled machine. The technical prowess is evident in spades but more importantly, the song writing nous has increased massively, if that was even possible.

In my review, I bemoaned the lack of an eighth track or a more epic composition within the seven that were presented on ‘Vector’. I still maintain that I would have liked a little more material. And, when push comes to shove, that’s perhaps the main reason why ‘Vector’ finds itself at number three in my list this year. I must stick to my guns and whilst many would point to the fact that ‘Vector’ is a well-honed and elegant 44 minutes of progressive music, I can’t help but long for another song or a slightly longer listening experience – this is Haken after all, one of my all-time favourite bands. Gimme more, damnit!

But seriously, aside from that, I simply cannot fault another near masterpiece from Haken. I love these guys and I love ‘Vector’, an album which backs up my bold assertion that Haken will one day be the biggest and best-loved progressive band on the planet.

To quote my review of 11 October 2018:

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“As intriguing as the lyrical concepts are, it is the music that will ultimately determine whether ‘Vector’ is a hit with me or not. On that score, ‘Vector’ is an amazing album. It is, for me, the most immediate of all their offerings to date and I have very quickly taken it to my heart. The immediacy for me, is down to some of the strongest melodies that Haken have ever penned. But these melodies are not at the expense of other elements because Haken are still the mischievous little scamps that they’ve always been, testing the open-mindedness of the listener, pushing at the boundaries of what may or may not be acceptable and generally playing with different ideas. And believe me, these guys pack a lot into this record.

A lot has been made in the lead-up to this release that ‘Vector’ would see Haken taking a heavier path. That is certainly true, as some of the material is downright monstrous, featuring gigantic riffs, bruising bass and thumping drums. Being the Man of Much Metal, I find this increased heaviness to be very welcome indeed and I personally hope that this element remains within future releases.

…to complete the scene-setting, we have in ‘Vector’ a shorter, heavier, complex, and, to my mind, a more immediate record.

Once again, as far as I’m concerned, Haken have proved that they are sitting pretty at the top of the progressive music tree, able to look down and survey the kingdom below. As ever, their output here on ‘Vector’ is interesting, challenging, fun, and hugely rewarding. It also has a greater immediacy which I really like, despite the definite metallic trappings throughout. It is just a pity that we weren’t given one more song, because then, this would have been a sure-fire 10/10.”

Read the full review here.

If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:

Album of the Year 2018 – Number 4
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 5
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 6
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 7
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 8
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 9
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30

If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:

Album of the Year 2018 – EPs and Compilations

And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years:

Album of the Year 2017
Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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