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2020: The Year In Metal

Jesus fucking christ, guys. You know what kind of year this was. And if somehow you forgot what 2020 was, consider this: over the past 12 months, I have only managed to audition 52 new albums, or 1 per week. That’s something like 40% my usual workload. Do you have albums that I missed?

Haken -- Virus
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HakenVirus

★★★☆ The band’s previous album Vector had me worried, but somehow the band correct for past sins here, without abandoning their trademark accessible eccentricity. Indeed, the band continue to wear their influences on their sleeves (Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, Leprous, SikTh, Karnivool, Porcupine Tree, Tool) while also managing to surprise and delight.

Haken -- Vector
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HakenVector

★★☆☆ It’s a weird thing to hear a band try to be simultaneously accessible and fucking weird. In Haken’s hands, it comes across like an awkward fusion of Leprous and Muse. By now, the band have made the logical evolution from 80s-inspired prog metal to a metal-and-synthwave melange of influences. Just about the solitary cohesive element here is almost pathological usage of odd time signatures, which sometimes work out just fine, but often wind up euthanizing the material’s sense of flow or momentum.

Haken -- Affinity
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HakenAffinity

★★★☆ Barely metal at times, but a very good prog offering nonetheless. It’s a great fusion of 80s and current sounds, at times sounding as much like latter-era Yes or UK as Porcupine Tree or Leprous. It’s an unlikely combination of sources, which I first heard on their previous EP, but this time it totally works without sounding too much like a gimmick.