Written by: LF on 29/05/2017 14:40:45

The Swedish progressive metal group Soen was created as a sort of supergroup in 2010, uniting ex-Opeth drummer Martin Lopez, bassist Steve Di Giorgio (of bands like Sadus, Testament, and Death), and vocalist Joel Ekelöf who also sings in Willowtree. While Di Giorgio has since left the band, the two others are still creating music along with three newer band members. Their music is often compared stylistically to Tool and that hasn't changed a bit on "Lykaia", their third album to be released. Apart from that comparison, a fellow Swedish band like Katatonia comes to mind when listening to Soen, as evident in the slower and more melancholically heavy passages, vocally as well as otherwise, in their music.

"Lykaia" doesn't bring a lot of new elements to the band's songwriting but rather it fleshes out what they already do so well with a continued focus on their technical proficiencies and the mystical atmospheres in their songs. There's a very similar vibe across the songs of the album, but the ones that do stand out do it primarily because of their more iconic melodies. "Opal" and "Sister" especially shine in that regard through not only their strong choruses that have Ekelöf successfully competing for attention with loud guitar riffs in the former and belting out longer, vibrating notes in the latter. They are also both examples of compositions that vary in intensity between verses and make for the most dynamic songs of the album along with opener "Sectarian" that circles seamlessly through different prog riffs.

The long "Orison" also deserves a mention, although not because of its melody but rather because it progresses so smoothly from one part to the next, blending rhythmically stricter passages into melodic, almost dreamy ones. This continues in the following song "Lucidity" where the bleak and melancholic sound that exists as a kind of counterpoint to their Tool-influences dominates entirely, which makes for an all-enveloping atmospheric track. On "Jinn" they venture to mix in some Arabian-inspired riffs that run through the song as its red thread but without the song as a whole making a great impact.

The whole album sounds good and organic but some songs definitely impress a stronger memory on the listener's mind than others. Soen is still a group of great skill and most of the songs here are worth checking out. I've enjoyed spinning it a few times but alas, after a while I only come back for the standout tracks mentioned below. They provide a solid expansion to Soen's live material though and as their continually sold-out appearances in Denmark prove, that experience is well worth your time.


Download: Opal, Sectarian, Sister
For The Fans Of: Tool, Opeth, Katatonia, Pain of Salvation

Release date 03.02.2017

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