Up and coming proggers Soen are back with their third release, Lykaia. 2014’s Tellurian was a personal favorite of mine back then – not only was the music a compelling mix of Tool and Opeth, the album cover featuring a rhino eating humans was fantastic. Those who know me understand. But I digress: we’re here to talk about the band’s newest release; an album they say is their warmest and most organic yet.
“Sectarian” kicks things off in a mildly savage manner, and the band’s Tool influences are (still) on full display. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio makes sure his instrument is front and center, much like their idols, and with good reason: he’s got great tone, and is an excellent player.
“Orison” carries on in much the same fashion, with the interesting twist of slowing things down midway through, turning a song that started as almost pure Tool into something off Opeth’s Watershed album, with similar chord progressions and melodies. It’s an effective, interesting (if somewhat derivative) song.
We’re thrown for a changeup, though, as the third song is a lush, beautiful, bluesy number. While it’s not out of place on the album, having “Lucidity” appear so early on throws the pacing off. Really, fourth song “Opal” should have come second, with “Orison” and “Lucidity” afterwards. Similarly, closing Lykaia with another bluesy dirge – even though “Paragon” is a super song – isn’t the greatest idea. The album ends on much too somber of a note.
That being said, all eight songs presented are excellent. Soen are a bunch of crack musicians, and Joel Ekelöf is an excellent singer. The group has one problem, though, and that is a habit of performing in an overly clinical fashion. Even here on Lykaia, the album they say is pure and organic, the band plays with as much emotion as one would expect from the house band at a Vulcan bar. Letting loose with the crushing power they claim to have would push these songs over the top.
Aside from the issues listed above, this is a great album. Throw some emotion into the music, rearrange the songs, and we might’ve had a masterpiece here.
(released February 3, 2017 on UDR Music)