Silver Lining Music
Released: February 1, 2019
''We are made for dreaming,
For wandering the earth.
For what we have is all we need…''
Swedish progressive metal supergroup Soen have released their latest opus “Lotus” on February 1st, via Silver Lining Music. Initially formed in 2004, the band actually began its activity in 2010, and has since released the highly acclaimed albums “Cognitive” (February 2012), “Tellurian” (November 2014), and “Lykaia” (February 2017). Drummer Martin Lopez has described Soen's music as “melodic, heavy, intricate and very different than everything else”.
I have to admit that this is my first time listening to Soen, as I was really intrigued and mesmerized by the title track “Lotus” when it was released as a single in January, and I had to check out the full album. And good thing I did, otherwise I would have missed out on one of the year’s best offerings, at least in my humble opinion.
In true progressive metal style, “Lotus” is very intricate and melodic, yet also quite easy to listen to, with an all-around somber atmosphere to it. The balance between the instrumental and the vocals is very well kept throughout, neither one overpowering the other (as in many other cases), but instead backing each other beautifully, making for an extremely enjoyable listening experience.
Even though it’s a rather linear album, in the sense that there isn’t much variety to be had (at least on a superficial level), as the slower songs feature great guitar work (see the solo in “River”) and the more aggressive one also have their down moments, I feel like each song is a gem in its own right, and together make “Lotus” worth listening to, multiple times. “Opponent” opens the album on a rather philosophical note, and this type of highly intellectual lyrics is what gives the album depth, complexity, and emotion (“Desire, downfall, / Possessed by greed and numbers. / The more we want it all, / The worse we treat each other”). Musically it goes back and forth between somewhat heavy parts and more mellow moments, with a catchy chorus to it. The somewhat jazzy “Lascivious” follows on the same melodic path with some groovy guitar melodies from Cody Ford, intense drumming, and impressive vocal delivery from vocalist Joel Ekelöf. “Martyrs” starts off on more aggressive sounding guitars, and even the vocals seem harsher than before, though it features a very beautiful piano / vocal interplay and an equally beautiful chorus (“Spirit of the water, let the sky fall down on me / Suffocate the fires lit to harm”). The haunting title track “Lotus” has a funeral vibe to it because of the backing orchestral arrangements, and a very emotional vocal delivery. Also the guitar solo is to notch, adding so much to the dramatism of the lyrics (“Talk to yourself / Let your essence be the answer / While we chase the meaning of who we are / Navigating through a storm”)
The upbeat “Covenant” has some keys in the background, which combine superbly with the chugging guitars, Stefan Stenberg’s rumbling bass, and the fierce drums, adding to the ominous feel of the chorus (“The sinner will die / Parading down through the misty lights”). “Penance” is more mid-tempo with melodic guitar lines that really complement well the vocal lines, and some strings here in there, as it builds up in intensity to reach a boiling point half-way through. The ballad “River” features gentle piano lines, acoustic guitar lines and emotional vocals, making it one of the most beautiful tracks on the album while the intense and energetic “Rival” has powerful drumming, heavy guitar melodies, and groovy bass lines, making it a real headbanger of a track. The 8 minute epic “Lunacy” closes the album on a very atmospheric note courtesy of Lars Åhlund’s keyboard work making me wish I had heard more keys on the album.
I feel like this album has it all – exceptional vocals, skillful instrumental, and well-written lyrics. And while I know this is true for most rock and metal albums, somehow Soen seem to have taken everything to the next level as “Lotus” is a dense album, from every perspective. Everything flows together neatly with the vocal delivery and the lyrical content being the driving force of the album. I cannot remember the last time I was this impressed with the words being sung, as well as with the vocals. Deadly combination, as far as I’m concerned. Lyrically, it deals with many themes such as inner struggle, mortality, depression and anger, putting you through a roller-coaster of emotions.
Joel Ekelöf – vocals
Cody Ford – guitars
Stefan Stenberg – bass
Lars Åhlund – keyboards
Martin Lopez – drums, percussion