Soen – Imperial

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I only learned about them in 2019. The reason? Their first visit to Greece. Better late than never, right? Two years after the awesome “Lotus”, the Swedish progsters return with the fifth full-length album of their career in which they continue the style they started building with “Lykaia” (2017). It seems that they have now found their sound, after experimenting a lot to get here.

The great thing about this band is that you can no longer easily describe what they do. They do not have long and complex compositions. Super technical parts are not their first concern. But they make great songs. Songs full of emotion, amazing melodies and lyrics that are worth paying attention to. Songs that enchant you with the straightforwardness and the high level of musicianship they have. It is their shortest album so far, as its eight songs last only forty-two minutes.

Here, of course, we hear them heavier than before. Heavier guitars and drums in places, even slightly extreme vocals in an outburst of aggression in the opening “Lumerian”, that is probably the heaviest they have ever written. Of course, this does not negate what I said earlier about the melodies and emotions that overwhelm “Imperial”, as they also have their softer side that owes a lot to Pink Floyd. The band plays thoughtful without exaggeration and focuses on making well-structured compositions.

Simple but solid rhythm section by founder Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth, ex-Amon Amarth) on drums and the newcomer Oleksii Kobel on bass, beautiful guitar parts by Cody Ford and Lars Åhlund (with the latter playing also the keyboards) and of course gripping performance by the incredible Joel Ekelöf. A unique voice that you cannot get enough of listening to, as he colors the compositions in the most ideal way.

So, for those who loved “Lotus”, I find no reason not to do the same for “Imperial”. Even if there are a few moments in “Deceiver” and “Illusion” that seem like the band is copying itself, I think they are now quite sure of what they want to do with their music. In a scene where modern prog bands are characterized by idiotic haircuts, stupid vocals, weird tempos and competition about who will play stranger and more alternative, Soen writes songs like “Dissident” and “Antagonist” and eliminate anyone around them. One of the best records of the year. Yes, I know that it has only just begun. So what?