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Soen - Lotus CD (album) cover

LOTUS

Soen

Experimental/Post Metal


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5 stars Soen just keeps delivering!!

On their fourth studio album the band continues with their signature sound and refining it, consolidating their unique "Soen-style" of songwriting and sound even more.

Before we begin, just let me address something right away:

Yes, their sound is still often compared to Tool or Opeth (and I won't argue with that). This is because they infact do incorporate certain (really cool) features, that those bands seemingly came up with. And I am glad they do! But it doesn't stop there, they take the best of those worlds and build upon it their own music.

It's not like how every second progmetal band literally sounds like Dream Theater. It's a more accessible and way more pleasant take (honestly, who listens to those Tool-songs that consist of mostly noise - besides maybe once on lsd in the hope to get enlightened?) on the post-metal genre with an overall very thoughtful but positive vibe while still being heavy enough to satisfy most metal-heads.

As in their former releases, the band acts as a perfect unity. No fancy soli to show off their skill, no overly complex part as if they somehow desperately needed to earn the label "prog". Simply very solid songwriting with plenty of awesome moments to relish.

The contrast between the hard riffs and the emotional vocals, the epic walls of sound, they are able to conjure, opposed by the mellow parts.. every second is just a pleasure to listen to and everything feels right. Granted, it might not satisfy those who listen with their intellect and want their music to resemble some kind of high degree in complexity-songwriting.

This music is for them feels!! And oh boy, does it feel amazing! When the brutally rolling guitar riffs, backed by the amazing drumming from Martin Lopez are finally joined by the melodic and warm voice of Joel Ekelf, you feel like humanity is not lost after all and you can achieve literally anything you want! This music is empowering and reassuring - music I really can draw strength from.

Soen's music has evolved into a very unique and brutally pleasant sound which strikes the perfect balance between hard and soft, complex and catchy. The precision of the musicians and the production level of this album are outstanding as well and make this even more enjoyable in high definition with a good sound system. Also: there is not a single weak song on the album. In each you'll find something that makes you want to turn the volume even louder or come back to on a third, fourth and 100th listen!

Another great album by Soen, which deserves no less than 5 stars in my book for there are only very few bands that resonate on such a deep level with me <3

Thanks again Soen, see you in Munich!

Report this review (#2136695)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Soen is a Experimental/Post Metal band from Stockholm, Sweden that was formed in 2004 by Martin Lopez (Opeth) on drums and Kim Plazbarzdis on guitars. It wasn't until 2010 before the band was completely formed with Joel Ekolof on vocals and Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Iced Earth). In 2012, they released their first album.

"Lotus" is the band's 4th album released in February of 2019. Their current line-up still consists of founder Martin Lopez and vocalist Joel Ekolof, but now also has Stefan Stenberg on bass, Lars Ahland on keyboards and Cody Ford on guitars.

The first track "Opponent" is a straightforward heavy metal rocker. Joel's vocals sound just like Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth. The track is obviously there to attract the type of fan that likes their Progressive Metal more watered down. "Lacivious" is a bit more interesting with a slightly softer feel, and a touch more progressive, but still with a simpler-than-Opeth sound. That sound continues with "Martyrs", the music is good, but still has a more commercial edge to it than on previous albums. The lyrics and message of the song is great, but otherwise, it's a typical heavy ballad.

"Lotus" is reminiscent of Anathema or Riverside, but in a more commercial way. It's a nice melodic metal ballad, but nothing we haven't heard before. There is a beautiful guitar solo on the instrumental break. The rest of the album continues in this same vein, the band has left behind the post metal sound of before and is moved to sounding like another heavy band trying to sound more complex than they really are as they strive for a commercial sound.

The music is decent enough, with some nice guitar solos and a few ballads, but it has all been done before, so nothing really stands out here. They seem to be trying to find that middle ground between Opeth (the good side) and Nickleback (the bad side), so any comments regarding that they sound like Tool are moot now, and they seem to lean more towards the Nickleback sound than Opeth. Anyway, it's still worth 3 stars, but I feel like it wears out it's welcome much too quickly. Not much progressive here.

Report this review (#2138028)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review # 106

After the release of the very good Lykaia (2017), SOEN returned with an even better album. I added the album in my collection almost a month ago and I keep listening to it on a rather often basis. Yes, I will agree with all those who are stating that SOEN sound like a mix of Tool and Riverside on many occasions, but that's not the case. Every band in our days is influenced by other bands, and that is something not very easy to hide.

The feeling I get when I listen to Lotus is that this time SOEN tried to move away from their usual Tool-like sound, and create something new and more personal. Have they succeeded? Well, not exactly. Still, their influences are present and obvious, but the band seems to be heading into a new musical direction. And that is something good in my opinion.

The album includes lots of powerful moments, and a few melodic ones, like for example the wonderful title song. Every fan of this style of music will definitely find some songs to like in Lotus, but speaking for myself, the songs I like the most so far are: Lunacy, Covenant, Martyrs and of course Lotus.

I am not going to get into details for each song separately, because my opinion doesn't really matter, since each person has its own point of view. But I strongly recommend to listen to this album, but not only once. Give it some time and be sure that it will grow on you. For me, Lotus is one of the best releases of 2019 so far. Totally recommended! My Rating: 4.0 Stars

Report this review (#2169159)
Posted Thursday, March 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars I had listened to Soen long ago, and I, sadly, thought it was too much of a Tool copy to be interesting to me. I love Tool, but one band doing that is enough for me. I read somewhere that Martin Lopez was tired and angry of the comparison and of the fact that people didn't listen to the music by itself. I am totally guilty of this, but I am also always looking for original stuff, be it in terms of sound, composition, mixing of styles, etc. I am a tireless devourer of surprises.

But I have another side. Sometimes you find a record that although not profoundly innovative, is so good and well done that it turns to be the pinnacle of a certain style. For me, this is one of those. And what a record! (I must say that strictly speaking, a record that belongs in this category is always innovative, it just isn't in an avant-garde way)

I came by Lotus as a Spotify personalized recommendation and gave it a spin. You never know: some of my recent favorite records have been discovered this way.

I. Was. Floored.

As I said before, this is not anything new in terms of any of the categories I mentioned before. But it is so well made it just gets immediately to the top of my records encyclopedia. So much so, that even though I read prog archives reviews fairly regularly in search for new records, I had never written a prog archives review before - but given the divided ones I've seen so far about Lotus, I felt I had to contribute more light to this quiet masterpiece. It's the kind of record that can get by you without you knowing about it and that would be a pity.

I'd describe Lotus as the best mix of grunge, classic keyboards, pop and metal I've ever heard. It is all perfectly synthesized together. The production is dark but clear - a difficult image to illustrate. It is really well done and mixed, it all seems one chunk but with great clarity. Like a painting by Rothko, where although every color is similar, they are all distinct from each other and with so many great textures!

Onto the different elements:

The thing that most hooked me at first was the killer vocal melodies. This is one of my weak spots: it must be my picky nature, but I find great vocalists who sing memorable melodies are far and apart. If I ever stumble upon one, pfff, it's like hitting a direct pocket of pure pleasure. And I love my melodies emotional and catchy. In this sense I get a similar feeling, for example, to when I first heard Anathema's Untouchable Part 1 and 2. The music is different, darker, but the vocal melodies are as emotional and soaring. It is proper Pop-Metal, a precious thing indeed for us lovers of both styles.

As an apart: the only other recent example of a voice that has recently moved me (and, mind you, it is a very different style) is Spencer Sotelo's vocals in Reptile off of Periphery's "Hail Stan". I used to dislike Periphery for Sotelo, but now I am a convert. That record is FAF!

Back to Lotus:

The drumming is awesome too: tasteful but creative. This is my favourite kind of drumming, restrained and swingy. You can see it is his personal project. The Danny Carey influences are there, but mostly he does a minimalistic approach that contributes as well as Ringo Starr did to The Beatles.

The bass is foundational in every song and it really sounds great, coming from tool but different. I LOVE the sound! Can I have more please? And the low frequencies in general are just boomingly good. Very good presence of the bass. (Although it must be said that in lesser sound systems it does sound too boomy).

The guitars manage to be more textural than flashy which is such a difficult thing in metal. I guess the temptation is always to try and be the centerpiece. But in general, this tires me. In this case it is a complement to the whole, with great felt solos to boot. Another record I love a lot and has these kind of mix for guitars is Emarosa by Emarosa. And it's a great reference if you want to check that out too.

Last but not least there is the keyboards, which really seem to make the best bed on which the rest of the instruments rest. The atmosphere's are incredible and subtle. Really, I cannot give it higher praise than it reminding me of Pink Floyd. It's like what Opeth does in the later records, only, for me, in a better musical context (Up until now I haven't been able to love Opeth. Until now at least). They keys really feel complimentary in a retro prog kind of way.

In terms of the lyrics, I find them good inspirational and heartfelt. As everything else in the record: rock-solid and actually quite trascendental.

So, if you can't tell by all of the above I find the record superlative: It's a home-run!

Listen to it on good speakers at high volume. You deserve it!

Always a pleasure to find records like this, proper pieces of art and not scattered songs that can't make a whole. The experience is total and totally recommendable. If you like Riverside (Eye of the Soundscape has a different sound, but the same kind of classic song really well constructed), Pink Floyd, Anathema, grunge and even maybe Tool you have to give it a try. But really, Soen has become a thing of it's own. I guess they do deserve to be called innovative.

Song to sample the album: Covenant.

Report this review (#2216486)
Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | Review Permalink

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