Soen – Cognitive

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Review by Jason Guest

Inevitably, Soen’s line-up has drawn much attention from many, and is it any wonder? Martin Lopez occupied the drum stool for Opeth for many a fine album, his work being consistently creative and outstanding; and bassist Steve DiGeorgio held down the low end for death metal legends Death as well as having played with, amongst others, Testament and Iced Earth. Comparisons to their other bands are going to be (and have been) made, but if there’s one band that shines through as an influence, it’s neither Opeth nor Death, but Tool.

Guitarist Joakim Platbarzdis hypnotically repeated motifs, Lopez’s tight drum patterns, DiGeorgio’s melodic bass lines, and Joel Ekelöf’s well-studied (almost imitated) Keenan-esque vocals pervade the album and bear a striking similarity to said band’s Lateralus and (to some extent) Opiate periods. Yet this is no feeble nor highly advanced imitation. Cognitive is abundant in creativity and the tracks convey an intelligence that makes the album worthy of its title. There are Latin-styled percussion elements that lend it an exotic feel; fretless bass lines that add voice-like characteristics to the low end; massive riffs to give it weight; and gorgeous melodies and harmonies in the vocals. In fact, Ekelöf’s vocals make a significant contribution to the album’s success as something distinctly engaging rather than an excellent stylistic rip off.

With top notch song-writing and production, the textured approach to the sound and the ambient nature of even the heaviest passages make Cognitive a rich musical journey worth undertaking many times over. With the Tool influence more integrated into their sound instead of being so glaringly present, album number two will bring Soen to the fore. In the meantime, Cognitive stands as a great début.

7 out of 10

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Track Listing:

  1. Fractal
  2. Fraccions
  3. Delenda
  4. Last Light
  5. Oscillation
  6. Canvas
  7. Ideate
  8. Purpose
  9. Slithering
  10. Savia