SOEN – Memorial (2023) HQ
The provocative, engaging Swedish-based metal group SOEN will release their new album ”Memorial” September 1st. Few bands hit the emotions in the same way that Soen do. ”Memorial” retains that huge cinematic soundscape the band has crafted over their career. But they’ve incorporated a heavier element into their sound creating an album that is likely to challenge a few top tens come the end of 2023.
Results that ”Memorial” is much more melodic than your regular prog metal album. And while there’s a ‘heavier’ delivery this is done using hard rock groove and catchy punch, an album that has enormous commercial potential and will please a wide range of listeners.
Now a cohesive unit, Soen’s journey has really picked up in the past decade, with consistently excellent releases culminating in 2021’s stunning Imperial. They have always relied on the sum of their parts to combine the potent mix of power and aggression with the delicate and intricate beauty that they craft with apparent ease.
There are plenty of heavy riffs to salivate over, as Soen take a slightly harder-edged approach on several songs. The crunching ‘Violence’ is a case in point, a thunderous low-end thanks to founder / drummer Martin Lopez and bassist Oleksii “Zlatoyar” Kobel is countered by deliciously cultured melodies that hook in deep and refuse to let go. It’s symbolic of the whole album, which you can dissect song by song or merely immerse yourself deeply, enjoying the overall mood of the whole record.
Tracks such as ‘Fortress’ remind you that for all their gentle melody, Soen remains very much a hard rock band. It’s a pulsating track that pounds along, with some elegant keyboard work from Lars Enok Åhlund, who adds rhythm to Cody Ford’s razor-sharp lead work.
The songs are short, only one tips the five-minute mark, but Soen cram everything into each one. The quality is unquestionable, the tempo carefully measured, with the haunting and evocative style richly drenching each track. There’s the military element of the title track, with its anti-war theme, something pressingly personal for bassist Kobel being of Ukrainian heritage.
Influences are many, especially the likes of Pink Floyd, with Gilmour-esque touches on several tracks, but this is a band who have carved out their own unique sound. ‘Tragedian’ sees the band hit astonishing heights, whilst ‘Icon’ is what is known in the trade as a ‘banger’, with a rip-snorting feel, the chopping guitars working in tandem with Lopez’s piledriving drums and Ekelöf soaring about it all with his delivery.
The overall imagery, atmosphere, and vibe they create make Soen such an irresistible listen. The songs are orchestrated beautifully, and the progressive elements combine with the harder rock edge.
There aren’t many bands who improve on every record, but Soen have once again demonstrated their worth with a career-best release.
Fluid, organic, and inspirational, ”Memorial” is breathtaking from start to finish.
01 – Sincere
02 – Unbreakable
03 – Violence
04 – Fortress
05 – Hollowed
06 – Memorial
07 – Incendiary
08 – Tragedian
09 – Icon
10 – Vitals
Joel Ekelöf – Vocals
Martin Lopez – Drums
Lars Enok Åhlund – Keyboards, Guitar
Cody Ford – Lead Guitar
Oleksii “Zlatoyar” Kobel – Bass