Richard Henshall – “The Cocoon”

henshall“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.

Rating: 5/10

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)

About Rob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music!
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5 Responses to Richard Henshall – “The Cocoon”

  1. Ivan says:

    You literally say that all Haken fans are die hard fans and will admire this album under any circumstances just because it is by Rich Henshall. I really respect your dedication to music and love your diverse tastes, but this claim seems pretty inaccurate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rob says:

      That is not what I “literally” said. What I actually said was that Haken fans are true die hard fans. Which means they will love this. That’s my opinion. If you feel my opinion is inaccurate, then that would be your opinion which you are entitled to.


  2. isaiahmumaw says:

    This is definitely the type of album that won’t work well with everyone. Almost all of Henshall’s projects are not easily digestible and require multiple listens to fully appreciate. But that’s part of being progressive: you don’t just stick to the format that works, but you include lots of complex ideas and different genres in an attempt to do something new.

    I think you are judging the album too quickly for not sticking to an easily understandable format or staying within a specific genre. In particular I think you are judging it just for using specific genres and styles without actually analyzing whether or not they were used well. Rap, for example, may not be your favorite thing, but that doesn’t mean a song is inherently bad for using it.


    • Rob says:

      Actually it is a quick judgement because that’s what all reviews are. There’s always a case that any album can get better or worse with time. The rap part does break up an otherwise somewhat good track. My opinion. What should I say if I don’t like something?


  3. Tim says:

    Apparently you are expected to say nothing at all….which would defeat the purpose of reviewing in the first place. You, like all of us, are entitled to our opinions…keep the commonts coming. I’m a huge Haken and Richard Henshall fan – and I commend him for taking the time and guts to put together this solo offering.


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