Soen - Lotus - (8.5/10)
Published on January 25, 2019
Soen’s classy and particular sound is by now well known in the international progressive music scene. This means that there is a standard to live up to and not one that any band can achieve. With the latest album “Lotus” the Swedes definitely don’t disappoint. The record finds them refining and completing their sound to its fullest, and benefiting from a near perfect production.
There’s a clear connection to classic well known artists in Soen’s music, with obvious similarities to late Opeth but with more of a throwback vibe reminding of Pink Floyd. Overall, they stick to mid paced and slow ideas forming settled and easily listenable songs. The occasional heavy riffs and double kick drums spring into action at certain points to show Soen’s more metal side. The main vibe is quite mellow and sad thus making the heavy stuff further more powerful when they show up. “Lotus” does have the complex progressive element to it, but it’s decorated with inspired and easy melodies, making everything “user-friendly”. They aim to touch your soul rather than tie your brain cells into a knot, but still have a fair amount of intricacies to keep the mind active. It’s a patient and carefully crafted album made with a very mature attitude and it can all be felt from a listener’s perspective.
Guitar rhythms use gently over driven tones, slightly heavier at times, and the leads have the David Gilmour signature style of bluesy bends all over them. Solos are very fluid and enjoyable blending seamlessly into the picture and bass is settled, never leaping at the front but becoming more noticeable when guitars take a break. Keyboard work plays a huge role in the instrumental scope, often becoming the centerpiece within soft interludes, and Åhlund uses a dated classic rock organ sound as many prog artists seem to do lately. Fitting his sound and the Pink Floyd-ish leads into the more modern sounding rhythmic spectrum, makes what I believe is Soen’s signature sound. Everything is then topped by Ekelöf’s eloquent and straightforward vocal style. He sometimes reaches for more powerful high notes but is mostly settled and balanced in the vein of the music, and I do get a bit of Matt Bellamy vibe from him.
“Lotus” is not one of those over-pretentious progressive and technical albums and is more rock then metal. It’s an easy and enjoyable yet emotional listen and it sure benefits from kickass sound engineering. This sort of music is universal as to how it can be played, either in your car, in the kitchen, while you work, but also on anti-social mode, fully involved, with your eyes closed and noise cancelling headphones on. There’s nothing that makes this album a massive breakthrough or innovation, but Soen have taken what we proggers know to be good music and just made it better, more refined and more elegant. Even if it won’t turn your world upside down, you have to stream it at least once!