Soen - Tellurian
Metal is on the turn; the most exciting thing about it right now is the life force being injected into the modern progressive metal scene. The last few years has brought about a rise in interesting prog metal and rock with roots not held in the 70’s with King Crimson and the like but instead in metal, alternative rock and punk.
Prog rock today is a diverse, modern and thoroughly entertaining movement giving birth to such greats as Haken, Riverside and Leprous not to mention the undeniable budding genius of Devin Townsend et al.
A band that cries out to be added to the ever increasing list of Prog Gods is Soen; their new album Tellurianis living, breathing, progging proof of that. It is a clear improvement from their 2012 offering Cognitive which despite its appeal; complete with chunky grooves, immense writing skill and faultless vocals; seemed lacklustre in its overall impact.
Tellurian is a clear improvement, a delightful orgy combining the best of Cognitive with the addition of new dimensions with both performance and writing. Their unique sound; drum and bass driven with floaty riffs and dynamic song writing, extorting and showcasing all the band’s strengths to the max.
Soen consist of Martin Lopez (ex Amon Amarth and Opeth drummer), Steve DiGiorgio (Bass), Joel Ekelof (vocalist of Willowtree) and Kim Platbarzdis (guitar).
Heavy, syncopated and groovy melds with delicate melancholia with a flawless ease, the tracks flowing between one another like a calm and peaceful river, coupling with Eklof’s vocal offerings to ensure the transitions are not only smooth but irreproachable.
And the top hat to all of this? Their instinctive understanding for melody, revealed in soaring choruses that evoke feelings of the heavy and the melodic, creating a recipe for pure excellence.
With an increased progressive feel to this record than its predecessor Tellurian is a must listen to.
The album introduces itself with an unexpected instrumental, predominantly ethnic percussion music,Komenco is very brief but opens the mind to understand this album is something different, with no ego or pomp and circumstance, just a brief offering to set out Soen’s stall. Hinting at the South American influences that will be encountered at times, increasingly obvious after a few more listens to the album.
Tabula Rasa is up next; demonstrating the talent behind each and every single member, offering the different vibes they have to combine in a gloriously heavy riff filled number juxtaposed with the more emotionally charged vocal sections. A melancholic ode to individualism that allows Joel’s hypnotic and cathartic voice to bury into ones heart and soul, and so it begins. Here and now marks the point of a metal dominated quadruple of offerings, the next four songs defining the new path the band has taken, capturing the listener into a world of lamentation and mourning. From the words through to the constant alternation between energetic to heart wrenching and hauntingly atmospheric all of which enrobed by Joel’s heartfelt vocals.
Kuraman starts strongly with heavy guitar laden musicality reminding everyone of the path that prog is taking now before being woken up to the powerful yet wistful vocals in the chorus combined with the constant tempo changes that escalate imperceptibly from heavy to soothing.
Then comes The Words, if I could only listen to one song from the entire album it would be this, time and time again, from the off the haunting lyrics, the ethereal crumbling, heart breaking vocals, the slow tempo drumming, the constant, determined yet delicate guitar work; all of it just works. Immediate goose bumps and they revisit every time it plays. It is a phenomenal song and one that is begging to be listened too, time and time again. If there is only one track you can be bothered to listen to, make it this one, you will not be sorry.
"Tellurian captures the listener into a world of lamentation and mourning. From the words through to the constant alternation between energetic to heart wrenching and hauntingly atmospheric all of which enrobed by Joel’s heartfelt vocals."
Pluton and Koniskas finish the quadruple with hints at their previous album Cognitive, both heavy in different respects; Pluton with an aggressive opening where you can actually hear the glorious un-amplified sound of the bass strings whilst Stefan really thrashes them, offering all he can. Koniskas starts with some falsetto vocals and soft music almost leading the listener into a false sense of security before becoming that bit heavier and reminding us who they actually are and what they do.
Ennui and Void; also heavier songs on the album expose Lopez’s immense and insane drum skills. WithEnnui carried in large part by a very cool bass riff with a hell of a lot of groove, Void takes advantage of a prominent bassline and a solid wall of sound that is unrelenting The longest songs on the album leading the listener through the well- known progressive passages, off time signature drumming and overlapping soothing vocals melding everything together and leading to the conclusion of a tremendous album.
The Other’s Fall is the albums finale, a stand-alone wonder; it shines as the guitar laden riffs create a dirge like atmosphere near the end whilst managing to pick up from where Void left us on the outro. Another atmospheric number containing some of the most interesting instrumental moments from the entire album evoking head banging, heart break, drums, melody and everything Soen is about in just over five minutes.
And before you know it you are left wanting more, it suddenly dawns on you that the entire album is done and dusted, with a little under an hours’ worth of tracks. The record was and is beyond my expectations, each member gets their chance to shine without ego coming into play, their mastery and skill displayed in abundance. The entire album flows by itself because of this, it works as a whole to tell a story, one you will want to listen to again and again, as the album repeats more things are uncovered, like the never ending stream of scarves from a wizards sleeve as he conjures a magic trick. Staring at awe and amazement as the delights are uncovered time and time again.
Tellurian is so artfully crafted and emotionally evocative that it pushes the band and the listener to the next level, the mastery over melody that Soen has is phenomenal, moments of piercing beauty, epic writing and powerful performances sprinkled and dotted with heaviness across the record makes this offering special and not in the bad way.
Words: Kat Hilton