Review: Soen – Tellurian

Location: Sweden
Genre: Progressive Metal
Released: November 4, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Upcoming Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

I happened to be at Soen’s first-ever concert, a performance at the Finnish Metal Meeting in 2012. They put on a solid set that drove me to purchase their debut album, Cognitive, which quickly became one of my favorite albums of the year, if not ever.

Tellurian is the group’s second album. To paraphrase a quote from Archerthis group is like if Opeth‘s Mikael Akerfeldt and Tool‘s Maynard James Keenan had a baby and named it Soen. The comparison makes sense, especially given that their drummer, Martin Lopez, spent ten years as Opeth’s percussionist and even spent a couple years as Amon Amarth’s drummer from 1996-1998.

The comparison to Opeth and Tool is meant to be taken as a compliment, although I can see how some people would want to run far away from this band based on that description. The sound Soen possesses is more powerful than Opeth’s recent efforts, however, so this should still please some of the “Opeth is all cheesy progressive rock now. I want Blackwater Park 2” meatheads.

To be frank, however, my first listen to this record was decidedly indifferent. It felt like every track was too similar to the previous track and the songs didn’t progress on the first go-around, especially on the first half of the album. The entire second half, starting with “Koniskas,” stood out as a much more dynamic chunk than the first half did. But by the time I got to the second half, I was already weary.

Additional listens proved to be much more rewarding, though; the production is air tight, but not robotic. The bass clearly stands out in the mix, and the always-clean vocals are just as gorgeous as they were on the debut. Especially noteworthy is “The Words,” a shining display by vocalist Joel Ekelöf that is rather minimalist in that there is an extensive amount of this track that features little-to-no percussion. If you’re looking for two tracks to try out before diving into the rest of the album, I would pick the last two (“Void” and “The Other’s Fall”), which are the longest tracks on the album by a considerable margin. There is a lot going on in each of these tracks that would consume far too much space to describe and wouldn’t do them much justice anyway.

As a whole, I am impressed with the progression Soen has made from their already-strong first album. This wasn’t phoned in at all; this is a group of musicians that appears to be dedicated to making music that makes people think, especially with regards to the lyrics. Even the album cover art gets your attention, making you wonder: “I wonder what this means?”

Overall: May take several listens to sink in, but worth the wait. As of right now, safely in the top 20 albums of 2014. 

Rating: 4.0*

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