(In this post, DGR reviews the 2012 album by Soen.)
Talk about a disc about which it has taken forever to compose my thoughts. It’s been floating around since mid-February as a Spinefarm release in Europe but only saw digital release here in the States much later. Soen are a conflicting-as-hell band to discuss because one of the first things everyone does is drop a comparison to Tool. Given that I am a Tool fan and very familiar with their work, I can confirm that the comparison is definitely warranted, but you know what? Soen deserve to stand as their own band.
Yes, they have some elements of the aforementioned band’s spacey prog-rock tone attached to them, but very few bands do it as well; even those who are influenced by it and try to mimic it to a T usually fail. Soen have somehow managed to get close enough to that band’s sound without becoming them or even adopting the Philosophy-101-styled thinking buried in new age mysticism that I’m perfectly okay with Soen.
Yes, getting David Bottrill involved (famed producer, worked with a ton of groups, including Tool) feels like an incredibly shrewd maneuver, and he does his damnedest to give them the exact same mix, but so what, it sounds great. They’re really not mimics. Believe me, Soen are something of an all-star group who manage to do enough things on their own that they feel like a new thing. Cognitive is a really good bit of prog-rock with quite a lot of individuality buried in between echo-heavy bass lines and singalong-worthy choruses, much of which, surprisingly enough, is provided by the drumming work of former Opeth drummer Martin Lopez.
I know it’s impossible to analyze this album in a vacuum, as if I had never heard some of what’s being done here before, but now that I have gotten that rant out of the way, let’s talk about Cognitive. Continue reading »