Monday, 5 January 2015

Soen - Tellurian (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/11/2014
Label: Spinefarm Records

‘Tellurian’CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). Komenco
2). Tabula Rasa
3). Kuraman
4). The Words
5). Pluton
6). Koniskas
7). Ennui
8). Void
9). The Other’s Fall

Soen is:

Martin Lopez | Drums
Joel Ekelöf | Vocals
Joakim Platbarzdis | Guitars
Stefan Stenberg | Bass

There must be something in the water in Sweden, something which invigorates the soul’s creative aesthetics, souls which share a cohesive national guise. From the likes of Opeth and In Flames to Truckfighters, Graveyard, Witchcraft and beyond, their styles are individualistic, but they all come out sounding startlingly Swedish. Progressive metal quartet Soen is no different. With  roots planted in Opeth through drummer Martin Lopez and Willowtree with Joel Ekelöf and Kim Platbarzdis that is hardly a surprise. Those Opeth roots are what this band plant firmly into: A sprawling and complex yet melodically focussed sound that pushes for sunlight above the treetops.

‘Tellurian’, meaning anything pertaining to the Earth, is an astronomical clock that depicts how day, night and the seasons are caused by the movement of our planet on its axis and its orbit around the sun. As an album it instantly smuggles itself into your psyche. However – and whether this is a compliment or insult I am thus far unable to derive - it all sounds very familiar. It’s like walking into someone else’s house when they have it set up exactly how you like it, you feel comfortable straight away but at the same time such a familiarity is a little disorientating. 

If it is a criticism, it is a miniscule one that should no way belittle your respect for this band’s prowess. The instrumentation, arrangement and clarity that oozes out of their maze like compositions are of the highest order – this is a band firing, as a solid, wholesome unit, on all cylinders.
Joel Ekelöf’s vocals are more soulful and cutting than a Valentine’s card from Frank Sinatra and Barry White combined. The layered vocals adding an extra prestige and feeling – as if anymore was needed. He is the fulgent light to the band’s subfuscous sonics.

’Komenco’ sets the mood of the album with scattered tribal drumming before ‘Tabula Rasa’ and ‘Kuraman’ show you what this band are all about – doing so in emphatic fashion. It’s schooling in riffology from the offset, scatting bass rippling through the mix like a bouncy ball launched into a claustrophobic prison cell.

’The Words’ follows; a really mellow, brooding, heartfelt and beautiful song that injects an extra degree of variety and spice to proceedings. Then out of nowhere ‘Pluton’ pummels you, flattens you. Spinning guitar work fluctuates betwixt purring vocals that raise the hairs on the back of your neck, schizophrenic dynamics never settling on one emotion, dragging you face first through their cinematic tale. The guitar work across the record is absolutely superb – using tonalities to not only move the listener but entire mountain ranges too it would seem. Here, caught in the moment, the purpose of the album’s title becomes abundantly clear; they do indeed pertain an earthy sound, almost unmatched in its way to touch everything in its wake.

’Koniskas’ and ‘Void’ continue in a similar vein, the record flowing like a stream, sunlight dancing on its surface, in a vast, open meadow. The latter especially is packed with more of those riffs that make your ears prick up and ask yourself just how they’ve written such a fine thing. The intricacies that bury deep within the riffs, runs and chord progressions in each song are more meticulously thought out than some entire albums it seems. The whole thing is bewilderingly accomplished.

So crank it up, crack a smile – Soen have created something wonderful here.

‘Tellurian’ is available everywhere now

Words: Phil Weller

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