Swedish progressive metal act Soen were formed back in 2005 by former Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis, but it wasn't until the band added singer Joel Eklof & veteran bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death/Testament/Sadus/Control Denied/Iced Earth/Autopsy) that their debut album came together and now released here in 2013, Cognitive. One quick look at the cover art of Cognitive will probably remind most metal fans of Tool's Lateralus, and you have to wonder if the band purposefully set out to do that, because the music here is, well, very Tool-like.
Eklof doesn't go all out to mime Maynard James Keenan here, but he does do a good job honing in on the Tool legends mellower aspects, like on the heavy yet quite dreamy cut "Canvas", which lurches, bubbles, and grooves just like classic Tool. The stop/start complexity of "Delenda" sees Lopez adding in some wonderfully tricky drum parts that weave around DiGiorgio's sinewy bass lines, Platbarzdis' complex yet meaty riffs, and the emotional vocals of Eklof, who almost sounds like Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt. "Fraccions" once again ventures into Tool territory, with staccato riffing and acrobatic drum fills from Lopez allowing Eklof to weave his lyrical tale over the top, while "Fraktal" and "Ideate" are pure, avant-garde prog rock with more than a hint of King Crimson. The groove laden "Last Night" is part ballad, part pop/prog crooner, and the rumbling "Oscillation" mixes Meshuggah style polyrhythms with soaring vocals and prog rock atmosphere. One of my favorite tracks has to be the driving, high-energy melodic metal track "Purpose", featuring inventive riffing and some great vocals from Eklof. Don't count out Lopez though, as even on this more accessible piece he manages to throw in some insane drum work. The band returns to adventurous, melodic progressive rock on "Savia", and mix atmospheric tones with crushing, bombastic metal on closer "Slithering".
I'm pretty much really digging Cognitive, despite its heavy reliance on the Tool influence, these songs are damn enjoyable, dramatic, at times quite heavy, and at others dreamingly atmospheric. If you love Tool, Meshuggah, Porcupine Tree, Anathema, King Crimson, and Opeth, there's a good bet you'll be all over this one. Nice to see Lopez resurface once again, and he puts on an unbelievable show here. Recommended.
6) Last Night