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Soen - Imperial Award winner

Soen
Imperial
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 19 February 2021, 11:09 AM

Initially formed in 2004, it was in May 2010 that the formation of SOEN was officially announced.  Funding member drummer Martin Lopez describes SOEN’s music as “melodic, heavy and intricate”. Since Lopez and Joel Ekelöf formed the group, SOEN have never shied away from exploration and analysis of self or society, both as musicians and expressionists. 2012’s “Cognitive” beat a firmly heavy, progressive metal path, before 2014’s “Tellurian” saw SOEN start to stride freely into their own power and unique visions. Their third offering, “Lykaia,” was a conceptual journey exploring earthier places.

SOEN’s fourth album, “Lotus” is another journey using a different set of perspectives. The album was released on February 1st 2019 via Silver Lining Music. Produced by David Castillo and Iñaki Marconi at Ghostward Studios and Studio 6 between July and October 2018, “Lotus” contains dissertations on modern society that are fraught with poetic, finitely designed confusion and chaos.  Specific meanings, however, remain at once deeply personal and wholly universal. Now they return with “Imperial,” which contains eight tracks.

“Lumerian” leads off the album, with heavy and aggressive tones. The vocals are smooth and easy listening, and done with harmonies. The melodies come through strong in the chorus. The guitars attack and retreat, and you never know when they are going to leave a deep mark. “Deceiver” begins with a hard riff that backs off when the verses come in, and are back as a bridge between the verses. Those charming melodies are back in the chorus, soaring high into the heavens. When it drops to just keys and voice, the melodies are absolutely sublime.

“Monarch” opens with the warning sounds of a siren. A groovy riff follows, with staccato guitar strikes. It slows in the chorus, allowing the beautiful music to really resonate with you. A tasteful guitar solo follows the melody line so well. “Illusion” opens with soft keyboards notes and serene vocals. The distorted guitar and bass lines that follow is done on a blues pattern. It’s so easy to just get lost in the music and forget everything else around you. “Antagonist” heads in the other direction, with angry guitar riffs and some more stalwart vocals. But they nail a strong melody line in the chorus again.

“Modesty” reminds me of KATATONIA. The vocals are so emotive and the music follows suit. But, it gets plenty heavy in the chorus as Joel Ekelöf stretches out in the chorus. The simulated strings at the end are beautiful. “Dissident” begins with a rough guitar riff and some odd time signatures. The guitars and bass work together in tight sequences while the vocal harmonies in the chorus open everything up. It drops to just piano and vocals as a charming bridge between the heavier passages. The Progressive elements come through strong towards the end, equally high with melody. Try not to want to sing along with this closing chorus. “Fortune” closes the album. It begins with a slow-moving sound that is a bit melancholy. Joel Ekelöf pushes some very poignant vocals in this song, along with another fantastic guitar solo, ending the album on a sad note.

The oddest part about the album is the fact that at times, you could be listening to something on the radio—it’s that catchy. But don’t mistake the splendid melodies for Pop music, because it’s too heavy at the other end. The transitions from the melodic passages to the heavier ones are nearly seamless. The main focus is on the development of the melodies here, and that is indeed a commitment that is actualized on the album. Normally at this point in a band’s career, they are either going backwards or continuing forward. It’s obvious that SOEN have plenty of fire left in their career, because this album left a lasting impression on me.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lumerian
2. Deceiver
3. Monarch
4. Illusion
5. Antagonist
6. Modesty
7. Dissident
8. Fortune
Lineup:
Joel Ekelöf – Vocals
Martin Lopez – Drums
Lars Enok Åhlund – Keyboards & Guitar
Cody Lee Ford – Guitar
Oleksii “Zlatoyar” Kobel – Bass
Record Label: Silver Lining Records
     


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Edited 05 March 2021
 

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