Soen
Tellurian
(Spinefarm Records)

It’s no secret that Swedish progressive metal super-group Soen borrowed quite a bit from Tool’s and A Perfect Circle’s sonic template, especially on its debut, Cognitive. The music was highly enjoyable, but with a moody vocalist, a rhythm-heavy sound, and winding riffs, it was pretty easy to play everyone’s favorite game of “spot the influence”. Despite that, it was clearly evident that Soen’s talent was worth the price of admission. It’s like being upset at someone for enjoying a copy of a Dali painting. Sure, it’s not the original, but it’s not a crime to enjoy something similar, right?

On that front, it’s nice that the band took notice of its most notable flaw. Instead of falling into the dreaded sophomore slump, Soen takes that all-important leap for album number two. Sure, this is still the same band, but you can hear it coming out of its shell. Soen has become a progressive metal beast. Tellurian is melodic, haunting, and oddly peaceful. It’s a hypnotizing listen, where vocalist Joel Ekelof feels much more comfortable. His croon is the perfect counterpart to the quiet chaos going on around him. Sure, his intonation will still recall Maynard James Keenan, but Joel’s voice feels much more confident here. The musical comfort extends elsewhere, as the whole band evokes many contemporaries in modern prog (Haken, Leprous, and Karnivool), while not feeling derivative of any. Soen now sounds like Soen (for the most part), and that’s a great thing.

The album is hit after hit, but if you’re looking for a go-to song, just listen to “Ennui.” With its initial galloping riff and stop-start rhythm, it’s easily the heaviest song on the album. Yet its underlying melody might be one of the stronger on Tellurian. Or maybe try out “Pluton” or “Kuraman.” Hell, just start at the beginning and let yourself enjoy this wonderful ride. It’s nice to see a band with potential live up to it. We’re seeing that with Soen, and I’m happy to be hypnotized by Tellurian.

Purchase Tellurian here: iTunes

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