At first I had no idea what was I supposed to think about Haken’s The Mountain. It was mostly slow, just way too slow even for a progressive rock album. Then I realized where the trick was: just consider it avant-garde.
Not that considering it avant-garde would make it any faster (getting used to the overall tempo of the album does that instead) – it just started making sense why it appeared so chaotic at first. There isn’t much really heavy metal sound on the album, and the little there is is what gave me the hint: parts (mostly the starting keyboards and the ending vocals) in Cockroach King reminded me of Vulture Industries. That not to say the album lacks metal in general, but mindless shredding doesn’t get a major role here, and the almost-acoustic ballads balance the heavy parts well.
It’s an interesting musical endeavor for sure. The focus is on the lyrics, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the components are ignored. Even in the slowest ballads there is always a catchy something. The songs all have a taste, they don’t just disappear into a grey mass. There are more than one pieces of surprising playfulness too, that I couldn’t not consider a form of comic relief in the generally serious tone of the album.
The Mountain is just the kind of album that takes time to discover. It took me days to realize just how many of its aspects I overlooked at first.