Review: Haishen – Awaken the Endless Deep

The Music

The Words

Haishen, whose Chinese name (海神) translates to God of the Sea, are an innovative new prog metal band from Rochester, NY. After releasing their self-titled EP, first in 2020, then again in 2021 (remixed/remastered and re-released by their label Needlejuice Records), Haishen are back with their debut full-length, Awaken the Endless Deep, releasing on May 9th, 2024. This is a concept album about Chinese creation mythology, and is full of epic prog rock, melodic death metal, and much more.

The album opens with “Crimson Sun” which after some soft ocean sounds, immediately bombards us with luscious Petrucciesque guitar licks before the rest of the band joins in with some great heavy riffs. The lyrics in this song are hopeful, as the protagonists set sail on a journey in search of comrades lost.

The second track, “Leviathan”, which features a guest vocal solo by Sally Louise, starts with some heavy riffs and a death metal scream, signifying a darker tonal shift, as our protagonists encounter a ravenous leviathan on their quest. The song ends with them abandoning ship and joining their friends beneath the water.

“20,000 Leagues” is an ambient track that brings our protagonists deeper and deeper into the ocean. Then the sound starts to shift to a more melodic quality, as it leads seamlessly into the immense “Goddess in the Machine”.

“Goddess in the Machine” is a 16½ minute epic, and is undoubtedly the highlight of the album. It immediately grabbed me upon at first listen. The wonderful guitar tone in the intro, with slight reverb and harmonic accents, is breathtaking. Some nice guitar tapping starts just before the rest of the band kicks in, and we hear some great polyrhythmic drumming along with some intricate bass lines. The lyrics in this song go back to describe the creation of the world and are split into three sections: Songs of Creation, The War of Water and Fire, and Nüwa Mends the Heavens. The vocals are a nice mix of clean and harsh, showcasing the wide range of tones and styles Haishen are capable of. At around 10:30 the song becomes very soft and ambient, transporting the listener to a serene world to reflect upon the journey thus far. Next, soft acoustic guitar and vocals begin part three of the song, which builds into an epic crescendo, before revisiting the tapping from the beginning and fading out into some ghostly sounds, and the spoken passage, “I will fight for you, Nüwa”.

Next up “Flesh of the Earth, Child of the Sea” starts out with a soft bass line. Then the drums and guitar join in as the intensity picks up, kicking into full gear at 1:15. The slight reverb on the lead guitar works well with the heavy rhythm guitar. At 3:40 the song gets even heavier with some driving riffs and Mastodon-like vocals. Next we hear some impressive guitar solos, including a neoclassical solo, followed by some soft melodic riffs.

A seamless transition leads into “Undersea Battle” which gets even heavier. Melodic riffs and intense drums paired with screams thrust the listener into a chaotic battle. Then a bass riff leads into a very Tool-inspired section where the bass, drums, and guitar create a perfect rhythm. The bass on the album stands out, but it is well deserving of the spotlight its given.

Next is “Pyrrhic Victory”, a soft acoustic piece. This song describes the sorrow and anger felt by the protagonist, as they reflect on their battle won, but with heavy loss.

The final track “Nüwa Awakens” delivers a climactic finish. The combination of strong vocals and impressive instrumentation creates a fitting conclusion to the epic journey embarked upon throughout the album.

Overall, this album is a step up from the EP, and is a formidable debut for Haishen. With impressive songwriting, storytelling, and playing, I highly recommend it to any prog metal fan. I eagerly anticipate what adventures Haishen will take us on next.

One comment on Review: Haishen – Awaken the Endless Deep

  1. […] ← Review: Haishen – Awaken the Endless Deep […]

Comments are closed.