Throughout Soen’s career, the comparisons and similarities to Tool and Opeth have been consistent across 2012’s Cognitive and 2014’s Tellurian (both Spinefarm). And it’s completely understandable. Founder and drummer of Soen, Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth and Amon Amarth) notes Tool to be among one of his major inspirations for their musical style. This progressive rock group along with standing members Martin Lopez and vocalist Joel Ekelöf (Willowtree) features new bassist Stefan Stenberg, new guitarist Marcus Jidell (ex-Avatarium) and new keyboard/guitarist Lars Åhlund. With one of the major goals of Soen being to move into a unique body of uncharted waters, Lykaia (to be released on UDR Music) proves to be a small yet still familiar step in that direction.
Put yourself between the release of Opeth’s Damnation and Ghost Reveries with a hefty side of Tool’s Lateralus and you will find Lykaia. This 51-minute journey ends entirely too fast, getting lost in its beautiful progressive technicality. The album starts with instant fire ‘Sectarian’, the solid heavy opener exemplary of the perfect chemistry between Soen’s current line-up. ‘Orison’ starts off with Joel’s serenading vocals backed by Marcus’ 10,000 Days Tool-esque riff that turns into yet another fiery heavy track, making it one of the top tracks on the album.
You’ll find that you’ve entered the Damnation atmosphere with ‘Lucidity’ and ‘Jinn’. The lazy gloomy atmosphere in both tracks is carried beautifully by the melodic vocal harmonies, reminiscent of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s dreamy clean singing. These 2 tracks are easily Joel’s highlights. And then we have ‘Sister’ where Martin’s drumming is at it’s tribal height in its intricacies, requiring only the utmost musicianship that can only be provided by this skilled drummer.
One will find that some tracks can blend together at times such as with ‘Sectarian’ and ‘Opal’ due its similarity in tempo and structure. There will also be times where a stronger, more cinematic vocal performance will be desired such as in ‘Sister’. With the highs and lows of the instrumentation, the vocals don’t seem to be as dynamic as well as they should alongside and can seem flat at times.
Despite the former, Lykaia is easily a testament to the consistent high-quality musicianship that Soen abides by. All prog rock fans would be smart to add this to their playlist without a doubt as they continue to establish their trademark sound.