Soen – Imperial (2021)

Imperial will be Soen’s most controversial album to date. The album has the best production quality ever, worthy of Soen’s talent, but makes them sound a bit like alternative rock. The melody is easy to listen to like Pop music, but it is Soen’s heaviest album to date. Born from Lotus and perfected with Imperial, Soen stepped out of Tool’s giant shadow to find his own tune. You may like them or hate them, but you can definitely tell it’s Soen when any track is turned on.
What I like most about Imperial is that it seems all the members of Soen are enjoying and enjoying playing this album. Drums, bass, guitar and vocals, all played very liberally, with lots of flair and very emotional.
The first impression of the Imperial is the sound of the drums. From the very first notes of the Lumerian opening track, the silhouette of Disturbed is clearly visible. Beat very physically, buffalo, double pedal continuously. Accompanied by very sharp guitar passages, cutting the rhythm into small pieces, like each punch straight to the ear. Martin Lopez shows the flair of a veteran drummer. No mechanical dancing, flamboyant, keeping the rhythm extremely standard, always creating a fiery atmosphere for Imperial, accompanied by flair, change of tempo and cleverly transformed fills. Nowadays, drummers try to stuff as many fills as possible, making them thick from beginning to end. Lopez plays the drums the old school way, with lots of sparse drum beats leaving plenty of space. For example at the end of the first track Lumerian or in the middle of the Antagonis track. It is the sparse drum beat, that “lack of” that helps the melody to be expanded, more humming, richer in emotion. A drummer who respects the melody and makes the song better instead of focusing on showing off his technique always deserves respect.
The second person to get the time of his life on this album is guitarist Cody Ford. Joining Soen in 2019, Cody has brought great changes. Soen is still a bass-heavy band. The lead bass and drums still lead and bring out Soen’s signature groovy, but with Cody, the guitar has more and more room to play. There’s still Tool’s cold, unpredictable riffs, and there’s still David Gilmour’s progressive drift, but Cody delivers plenty of classical rock tunes. The soft guitar sound, the hum of classical rock. The really long whammy bar pulls bring back a dreamy and romantic era of rock music. A little delicate violin sometimes blends in, making Imperial have a nostalgic color. Cody had absolutely no problem switching between progressive metal, psychedellic rock, jazz or blues/rock. Very delicate, and very beautiful.
It would be remiss to ignore vocalist Joel Ekelöf. With a talented team and inspiring music, Joel is Imperial’s brightest star. The voice is very thick and warm, the long lines are very high, but the throat is not thin at all. The Ballad Illusion is reminiscent of the classic ballads of Dream Theater (if DT has a good vocalist). The last track Fortune is full of long and resonant high notes. Lumerian or Monarch with wild high notes close to Serj Tankian With music that is always dark and has a psycholology color like Soen, Joel’s dark and dark voice is extremely suitable.
Imeprial is not an album that conquers everyone. You will either love it or hate it. But as I said above, Soen has created his own music, unlike any other contemporary band, combining historical melodies with roughness and grit and atmospheric atmosphere. the frustration of modern rock. That is not an easy thing to do.

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