04. Last Light
Supergroups are often looked at in the high hopes that they turn out to be more than the sum of their parts in a perfect blend on influences from past works. As we’ve seen in the past, this isn’t usually the case. Expectations are always quite high and the end result is never really what everyone was hoping it would be. Enter Soen, a semi-supergroup of sorts featuring two high profile musicians, drummer Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth, ex-Amon Amarth) and bassist Steve DiGiorgio (ex-Death, ex-Testament, Charred Walls of the Damned). Rounded out by the lesser known Joel Ekelöf and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis, Soen are a progressive rock band that aren’t exactly simply the sum of their parts, but an almost direct carbon-copy of the collective work of others.
Cognitive, Soen’s debut album, is probably the most shamelessly derivative thing I’ve ever heard, essentially a crossroads between A Perfect Circle, Tool, and Opeth. We’re talking about that patented Maynard discography with progressive mid-tempo rock songs with an overarching air of doom and a touch of tribal folk. It’s as if this collective got together for the sole purpose to fill the gap that Tool left since 2006’s 10,000 Days. The thing is though, Soen do it so remarkably well that they get a free pass. As my friend Grover from the now defunct The Number Of The Blog says, “someone might as well make Tool albums, even if it’s not Tool.”
On first listen, it’s almost shocking how tantamount to Tool Cognitive really is. Everything from the note choice and placement to the musical and lyrical cadence is an ode to Tool—and you know what? I am absolutely delighted by that fact. The tight rhythm section of Lopez and DiGiorgio lays down some serious psychedelic groove, which was made exponential by the tribal percussion included on ‘Last Light’ and ‘Ideate.’ The riffs even feel like they came straight from the fingers of Adam Jones and Joel Ekelöf’s wistful vocal style could easily pass for Maynard Keenan or Mikael Åkerfeldt depending on the context in which he appears. Even the production has ties to their influence via famed prog producer David Bottrill, who has done an outstanding job on this record and making it sound pristine while accenting the very natural and organic sound that Soen seem to be going for. This album quenches a mighty thirst, and it was desperately needed.
So sure, Soen are guilty of not being the most original band on the planet, but of all bands to imitate, they picked the right one; it’s not like we needed another Meshuggah floating around out there in the wilds of the metal kingdom. Despite its setbacks, Cognitive is actually a fantastic record, and these talented musicians pull off this sound with proficiency. We could all use a melancholic and intelligent rock record that is equal parts melodic and progressive. While you wait for Tool to get back on their feet and release their new album, give Cognitive a spin and get lost in thought.
Soen – Cognitive gets…