Soen – Cognitive

By Raymond Westland

One of the first supergroups to emerge this year are the guys from Soen. The band/project name may not be familiar, but some of the participating members certainly are. Former Opeth/Amon Amarth drummer Martin Lopez is the central figure here, aided by Steve DiGiorgio (Death/Testament/Vintersorg) on bass, Kim Platbarzdis on guitar and Joel Ekelöf on vocals. Let’s see what Cognitive, their debut album, has in store for us…

In the enclosed biography there are some parallels drawn with Lopez’ former band, but truth be told, I don’t hear any Opeth elements on Cognitive. Songs like “Fraktal”, “Delenda”, “Canvas” and “Slithering” are very reminiscent of Tool, which especially shines through in the dominant role of Steve D’s exquisite bass lines and the Danny Carey-worship of Lopez. Singer Joel Ekelöf’s style of singing has an uncanny resemblance to Tool’s James Maynard Keenan. Some faint echos of the Deftones and Porcupine Tree are also present on this album.

Simply branding Soen as a mere Tool clone would be a gross injustice to the collective talent of this band/project, the intelligent and forward-thinking nature of tracks “Fraccions”, “Oscilliation” and the aforementioned “Canvas” and “Slithering”. Nifty little Latin-styled percussion elements here and there gives Cognitive an unsuspected exotic feel. Despite the obvious Keenan connotations Joel Ekelöf is an excellent singer and his vocals are simply spot on.

Another positive aspect of this album is the warm and almost analogue sound, courtesy of Soen’s very own Lopez and Platbarzdis and the magic fingers of David Bottrill (Tool, Smashing Pumpkins). It really gives Cognitive the sonic foundation it needs to thrive on.

Cognitive by Lopez and Co is an excellent debut album, full of intelligent and engaging song material which should thrill the Porcupine Tree, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Oceansize and Amplifier crowds. Just one little request for the next album, namely a little more Soen and a little less Tool the next time, please? Thank you in advance!

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.