Soen, a brand new band featuring Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth) on drums, Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus) on bass, Joel Ekelof (Willowtree) on vocals, and Joakim Platbarzdis on guitar, have finally finished their long awaited debut entitled Cognitive. Deriving melodic and heavy elements not unlike bands such as Opeth, Tool, and Uneven Structure, Cognitive is a bold brush stroke across the canvas of today’s progressive metal.
If you haven’t heard Ekelof’s vocals yet, then you are in for a treat. His unique yet familiar vocal range resonates across the entire album. But if you think that’s where the uniqueness ends, then you’re wrong. Lopez is playing at perhaps his best yet, right on par on the timing with the likes of the late John Bonham himself. DiGiorgio and Platbarzdis work in tandem to provide the off-beat melody and keep this beast of a band somewhat contained.
After you are introduced to Ekelof on the opener “Fraktal,” they delve into their eclectic blend of music with “Fraccions.” Hard-hitting from the start, “Fraccions” brings a wall of sound that slowly but surely builds up as the song progresses. Without any notice, just when you think they’re really going to bring out something menacing, they slow back down to provide a unique experience. This is where the Tool influences start showing, most notably in the guitar and bass arrangements that remind one of the song “Schism.”
On the fourth track “Last Light,” they really start throwing in more of an experimental flavor into the album, with awesome results. First, there are the hand drums and swanky bass line with a few chords of melodic guitar. Ekelof’s voice simply shines above everything else on this track, though it already does with the other tracks as well. They are striving for that vocal-driven and pure melodic sound that you could just get lost in. It’s easily one of the best tracks on the album.
The math side of progressive metal is shown with the track “Oscillation.” Their time signature here couldn’t match any more perfectly with the overall soft flow of the entire album. While it’s heavy and is sure to please those who like math metal, there is also more to it. There is the first verse that follows the formula of the last track, but with a funky bass line to keep it going. They keep this going until the chorus, which reaches atmospheric proportions with the guitar tones used. The funky bass line of the last verse is replaced with the math guitars that actually retain the same force as before. This is one of the best songwriting examples I’ve personally seen in a long time.
Simply put, this album is a must have. Although some people will be quick to relate it to Opeth’s Heritage album, this covers much more than the Jethro Tull-esque album (you can read my review of Heritage Here). Do yourself a favor and buy this album that is sure to be immortalized into rock history.