Haken – ‘L-1VE’ (Live Album & DVD Review)
Live albums have long served as career landmarks – and Haken timed theirs to perfection. Recorded at the climax of their tenth anniversary tour, L-1VE consists of a set of highlights from Haken’s back catalogue, including a 25-minute medley of tracks from 2010 debut long-player Aquarius and the full 22-minute title track from sophomore effort Visions.
At almost two hours long, L-1VE is an epic-length, full-on prog odyssey – and in its audio form, it’s completely flawless. As far as virtuosic musicianship goes, Haken can be found up there with the best of them. However, the visual accompaniment will leave much to be desired for all bar the most die-hard fans.
To be fair, Haken’s focus is almost entirely on accuracy and precision here – hence the audio’s all-conquering perfection. But since their audience are, like most prog audiences, content to stand still – and the band themselves mostly do likewise – the DVD’s overreliance on long-range stage and crowd shots consistently drains L-1VE of much-needed energy.
Taken in small doses (such as the advance video for In Memoriam) it might not seem like much of an issue, but over the course of two hours L-1VE is crying out for more closeups. Expansive shots work in grand venues (see Dream Theater’s Live At Budokan and Score) or beautiful studios (Between The Buried And Me’s Live At The Fidelitorium), but in more modest spaces the close-up is king. Prog-metal up-and-comers Toska provide the perfect example in Ode To The Author Live, the YouTube-savvy band proving magnetic even in a tiny, cramped, audience-free rehearsal room thanks to incredible camerawork and perfectly on-point editing.
For Haken superfans, L-1VE will be more than enough – but this could easily have been unmissable in every sense with better camerawork and editing. Instead, it’s a perfect live album and disappointing DVD. The contrast is striking – but since there’s so much room for improvement, it would be awesome to see Haken level up visually and completely crush it second time around.
LTK RATING: 130% (Audio), 70% (Video)
Pre-order L-1VE (out June 22) via Haken’s official website.
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