Haken's Virus: the missing link between Slayer and King Crimson

Haken provide many bloodied riffs on sixth album Virus

Haken - Virus
(Image: © InsideoutMusic)

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One of Britain’ most enlightened prog bands, Haken always combine a thrash-style ferocity with intimate complexity. Virus continues that development. Their sixth album, it follows predecessor Vector in many ways, having a similar sense of musical structure.

At the core is the five-part Messiah Complex, which allows guitarists Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths to give full rein to their jazz-rock aspirations as well as belting out some bloodied riffs. 

Vocalist Ross Jennings has a more haunting presentation, which comes into its own on more introspective pieces like Only Stars and Carousel; he can sound a little lost when the brakes are released on the more metal-oriented tracks. The same can be said of keyboard player Diego Tejeida.

Although there’s much to admire on this record, Haken are still a little way from delivering the masterpiece that’s within their scope.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.