Does Richard Henshall need an introduction? I guess not, for this extraordinary musician earned his fame with Haken as well with his instrumental band/project Nova Collective.
New for us is that he also takes care of the lead vocals on his very first solo album, The Cocoon.
The album sees seven songs and kicks off with a short instrumental Pupa, which starts as an amospheric track, but slowly grows into a Haken reminding composition. Already highlighting the rhythm section for the album; Haken's Conner Green and Nova Collective's Matt Lynch. Seamless, the albums continues with the title track The Cocoon. Here the vocals of Richard sound pretty interesting, combining elements of Steven Wilson and Pink Floyd. Musically the song combines the Haken power with Nova Collective style progressive fusion elements. Halfway into the track the instrumental break, including Adam Carrillo's Saxophone, hunches of the German band Panzerballett are noticeable. Still the incredible versatile guitar solos are unmistakably courtesy of Richard Henshall. Silken Chains is smoother composition, where the vocals perfectly suit the music. Subtle keyboard parts and delicate guitars are the base for this song. David Maxim Micic adds a very fine guitar solo to the song. Limbo is a kind of spherical interlude that has minimal guitar picking, a smooth blanket of keyboard sounds and smooth vocals parts. One of the more accessible tracks on the album is Lunar Room, where Ben Levin adds vocal and rap parts and his wife and partner in Bent Knee, Jessica Kion adds the angelic vocal parts. During this powerful, symphonic sounding progressive track the guitar solo is added by Marco Sfogli (Icefish, Virgil Donati, James LaBrie and many more). Twisted Shadows is a nice quirky composition, which easily could have made it to a Haken album. Haken partner Ross Jennings takes care of the lead vocals and Jordan Rudess adds one of his signature solos. When you listen to this composition, you get an idea of the impact Richard has on the Haken compositions. The final track Afterglow is a smooth progressive song with alternative elements; I guess the vocals of Bent Knee's Chris Baum give this song that nice tittle edge.
Richard Henshall has come up with a splendid album; taking the best parts of Haken and adding the innovative parts of Nova Collective and fusing them to one interesting album. What stands out are the vocal parts of Richard, which are smooth and perfectly suitable to the songs. The special guests really add something to the music. The Cocoon is different from Haken, but also sees similarities during the melodies and powerful guitar parts. But above all it sounds like Richard Henshall.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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