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Soen - Tellurian Award winner

by Daniel Fox at 24 October 2014, 12:13 PM

I could only imagine the Progressive Metal community polyrhythmically jumping for joy to hear that Swedish Progressive Metal supergroup SOEN are set to release a second full-length, "Tellurian". Wary of the lack of Steve DiGiorgio on bass this time around, I was eager to hear what new bassist Stefan brought to the table. Firstly, I largely tend to disagree with the comparisons to TOOL; they are as much like TOOL as MEGADETH are to METALLICA or DREAM THEATRE are to FATES WARNING; a few similarities, nods and nuances lying around; at least, that's the impression I got, listening through "Cognitive" after myself having been a vehement TOOL fan for 8 years. The new album moves even further away from this, though the trajectory isn't so wild as to smack you in the face with a completely new sound.

Polyrhythms, tribal drumming and infectious bass about; "Tabula Rasa" is introduced in a jarring tangent away from the addictive ethnic drumming in "Komenco". The track tends to move in cyclical progressions; sections of drowning, punishing riffs overlaying complex drum patterns, before the riffs are watered down to gorgeously Proggy runs of technical drum and bass runs. This track literally tries to do everything at once. What feels like a 2-minute fadeout for the rest of the track does not at all prepare one for "Kuraman", perhaps the most technical, if not beautifully arranged, track on the record. Much of the bass is performed with slapping, which creates crisp, sharp and percussive undertones between the guitar and bass, the proverbial glue oozing out from between two pieces of wood and forming strange and alien shapes. That, people, is the beauty of Stefan's playing.

Some of the tracks on the album, like "Pluton" and "Ennui" make a few nods towards OPETH, and feature strong juxtapositions between what can be considered some of the more 'traditional' metal moments on the record (of which there are few), and beautiful-yet-daunting sequences of multi-layered ambiance. "Ennui" is easily the heaviest track on the record, and tends to feature a thicker, more homogenous mix than the previous tracks. However, throughout its busy 5-and-a-half minutes, it breaks down into its individual molecules, and at times, attempts to piece itself back together (this is not a TOOL pun, I promise). Honestly, this kind of musical arrangement is a stroke of pure genius.

Now, each of the performers are excellent musicians, but my favorite aspects of this album are the vocals and bass work; vocalist Joel reflects some of the moods and nuances of TOOL's frontman MAYNARD (the guy even bares slight resemblance to him), but his delivery is much more song-oriented, and reflects this with more melodic and catchier deliveries. New bassist Stefan is the best possible replacement for Steve, period. "Tellurian" sets the bar higher for the band, an overall improvement on "Cognitive", which seemed unimaginable at the time. Goodness knows what another couple of years will have in store for us, because if "Tellurian" was made reality, the possibilities for future work are endless.

5 Star Rating

1. Komenco
2. Tablua Rasa
3. Kuraman
4. The Words
5. Pluton
6. Knoskas
7. Ennui
8. Void
9. The Other's Fall
Martin Lopez - Drums
Joel Ekelöf - Vocals
Joakim Platbarzdis - Guitars
Stefan Stenberg - Bass
Record Label: Spinefarm Records


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