“The Cocoon” is the debut solo album from Haken guitarist Richard Henshall. As with any solo album, one of two options can happen. Either the artist needs to show other sides of their talent or the album is an extension of their band. For Henshall, “The Cocoon” is the latter. Many of the songs and riffs would not sound out of place on a Haken album.
The main differences on his solo material is that Henshall does the vocals. While he can hold a tune, he has a very limited range and is a serviceable singer at best. I’d rather hear Ross Jennings singing this material to be quite honest. One other issue that I have is the material itself. It’s rather disjointed overall. The ideas seems to jump from one to the next. Having a band means that others can help work through the “kinks.”
“Twisted Shadows” is the first single and a wise choice since I think it’s one of the better songs but even there, the song goes from swing to metal to jazz and never really figures out what it wants to be. The album starts with a nice intro piece “Pupa” which does transition well into the title track. Still there’s too much reliance on tech versus talent. Things sound like “Vector” in that regard.
Also, there’s a bit too much djent on “The Cocoon” which doesn’t work for me. Djent is fine when used sparingly but Henshall leans on it a bit too much. “Silken Chains” is next and is way way too synthetic sounding. “Limbo” is a decent track with a lot of atmosphere. Definitely one of the better tunes. “Lunar Room” has a lot of parts to it, and most of those work really well. But the biggest gaff is the rapping at the start of the song. Yes rapping. It just doesn’t work for me.
The rest of that song is pretty interesting but it does seem “all over the place.” The album closer is “Afterglow” and is another solid song. Overall, I had very high expectations for “The Cocoon” but much like the last Haken album, this fell well short of my expectations. None of this will matter as Haken fans will love this because that’s how die hard fans operate. For me, I’ll pass. The vocals are too weak and the songs just aren’t strong enough, though the musicianship is top notch.
1. Pupa (2:26)
2. Cocoon (10:27)
3. Silken Chains (8:10)
4. Limbo (3:55)
5. Lunar Room (8:22)
6. Twisted Shadows (8:47)
7. Afterglow (5:16)
Release Date: 9 August 2019 (updated)