Soen – Tellurian

Prog Sphere's review of Soen's new album "Tellurian," out in November 2014.

If by chance the super group Soen didn’t passed by your ears since the release of their debut album Cognitive, then it’s about time you should get to know them.  And there’s no better way to do that than by giving them a listen… or a dozen.

Soen was founded by the ex-Amon Amarth and Opeth drummer, Martin Lopez in collaboration with the most versatile bass player metal world has ever had, Steve DiGiorgio, the vocalist of Willow Tree, Joel Ekelöf, and the quite refreshing guitarist, Kim Platbarzdis. Their first album was both well embraced by some of the critics and fans of the genre and of the band members, as well as highly criticized as the sound was being compared to Tool. As I see it, Tool is the pillar of a new metal genre, and in the absence of another Tool album, Cognitive did a hell of a job filling up our music devices that were longing for some quality progressive. And it wasn’t being done just by anyone, but by some of our mentors in the lines of music.

But now let’s get back to their new album. Tellurian is scheduled to be released on November 10th but we were lucky enough to plunge obliviously into this wondrous piece of art. Well, Tellurian is a nine songs long record and it’s meant to pick up from where Cognitive left us but also to refine Soen’s sound each step of the way.

We are exposed to a lot of South American musical influences and to the prowess of each band member as they reunite under unbelievable harmonic and cohesive colors, and although we still long to hearing DiGiorgio’s undeniable artistic slap and finger-plucked fretless bass, Stefan Stenberg, his replacer, fills up DiGiorgio’s shoes in a more than decent manner.

The intro to the album, Komenco (Beginning) gives us a peak into the South American influences that we shall encounter, at times maybe even more pronounced after a few plays, on the entire album through the use of the percussion, the bongos and a few rhythm changes that we hear even more on the last song. Lopez is letting us know that the drums lead the way, once more. The second song on the album, Tabula Rasa is mistakenly hiding an otherwise melancholic ode to individualism under the disguise of a heavy and overwhelming intro just so as we could fall prey to Joel’s hypnotic and cathartic voice during its second part.

Here begins a sort of post-metal dominated quadruple, in my opinion, since the next four songs define the new approach the band has taken and it also captures us in a world of melancholy and deceive, both through words sometimes unspoken, as through the never ceasing alternation from energetic to heart wrenching and hauntingly atmospheric instrumentals, all, of course, painted as a whole by Joel’s warm vocals. Kuraman comes in strongly with a sort of a djent-ish guitar intro that reminds us all of the new path prog is walking on now, to slowly let us slip into oblivion while a melancholic atmosphere is created. We are woken up only by the powerful, yet still dreamy vocals during the chorus and by the constant tempo changes that escalate imperceptibly from heavy to soothing, though at the end of the song I still find myself longing for an Oscillation outro. The Words is the star ballad of the record and the guitar work falls right into place, complimenting the slow tempo drumming and the ethereal crumbling vocalist as he whispers “rest from your troubles/ lay while you wait/ dream something beautiful”. A virtuous bass line that makes us miss DiGiorgio a little bit less opens up Pluton and the progressive vibe that we mostly find on Cognitive takes over while leading us astray through paths of forgiveness and illusions. The quadruple comes to an end with Koniskas, the most post-rock influenced song off the record, where we once again take a walk through Lopez’s native musical backgrounds.

The last three songs on the album come together as well, as a progressive trio. These are the longest songs off the album and it exposes us to Lopez’s insane drum skills when it comes to progressive. Ennui and Void are also the heavier songs on the album and they lead us through the already well-known progressive abrupt passages, off-time signature drumming and overlapping soothing vocals meant to glue everything together.

The closing song, The Other’s Fall also shines by itself as the guitar riffs create a doom-like atmosphere towards the end, but also picks up from where the fade out outro on Void left us. Before you know it, you find yourself asking for more because you suddenly realize that that was the entire album. The reason behind this reaction is the fact that the record comes together beyond expectations and though each member of the band gets a chance to prove himself and his mastery, the album flows by itself exactly because it came together as a whole telling a story. And if I were to say what my dislike is, it would have to be related to the fact that none of the lyrics actually sticks with you after listening the album, but then again this could happen because you wake up after going through the songs as from a hauntingly goose bumps trigger dream and all you want to do is play it again.

Favorite songs: Kuraman, The Words, Koniskas.

Tracklist:

01. Komenco
02. Tabula Rasa
03. Kuraman
04. The Words
05. Pluton
06. Koniskas
07. Ennui
08. Void
09. The Other’s Fall

Line-up:

* Joel Ekelöf – vocals
* Martin Lopez – drums and percussions
* Joakim Platbarzdis – guitar
* Stefan Stenberg – bass

1 Comment

  1. Nebojsa Djukanovic

    November 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I’m rating this album 9/10.

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