There’s a fine line between having influences and imitation. There was no doubting that Soen’s first album “Cognitive” was heavily influenced by Tool. The album also had a distinct Opeth vibe due to the presense of former longtime Opeth drummer Martin Lopez. Despite any of this, the album was quite good. The band’s second release “Tellurian” has similarities to that debut, but it shows that the band is more confident in their own sound. The songs are flat-out amazing.
“Tellurian” has more expansive songs that have even more melody, more riffs and more everything! Martin Lopez still sounds like himself, and even though vocalist Joel Ekelöf has similarities vocally to Maynard Keenan, he has arguably a stronger voice and greater range. His performance on “The Words” is one of the best vocals of 2014. The song even features mellotron, courtesy of new bassist/keyboardist Stefan Stenberg. This gives the band a great palette with which to work.
The riffs are still rhythmic at times, like on “Pluton.” Instead of getting stuck on that, guitarist Kim Platbarzdis comes up with melodic riffs to work alongside the rhythms, rather than just locking into them. “Pluton” eventually glides into a catchy, breezy chorus. “Koniskas” is another track that has a catchy chorus, which is something “Cognitive” didn’t always have going for it. “Void” is one of those songs where when it comes on you say, “Oh, I love this song!” The quieter part at around 5:30 and flowing through until the end of the track is pure magic.
As I said, the songs are longer than on “Cognitive,” which shows a greater confidence by the band. The songs are all memorable too, even if they are longer with more sections to them. You will find yourself singing along with Ekelöf throughout “Tellurian.”
Soen have managed to evolve and progress from their debut album by refining their approach and writing an incredibly strong batch of songs. Yes, they are influenced by Tool, but they aren’t trying to sound like Tool. Besides, it’s been so long now, who knows if Tool remembers how they sound! The bottom line is that “Tellurian” is one of the year’s best albums.