Sound — 9
Soen originally formed in 2004 as a creative outlet for the members, but it wasn't until 2010 that their formation was made public and then soon after they released their first album, "Cognitive" in 2012. The band was founded by Martin Lopez, Steve DiGiorgio, Joel Ekelöf, and Kim Platbarzdis - former members of Opeth, Death, Testament and Willowtree. Since that time, the bassist from Testament left, and the band invited Steve DiGiorgio back to fill that slot, and so he has left Soen and that spot is now being filled by Stefan Stenberg. "Tellurian" is the band's second release, and has 9 tracks with a total run time of approximately 52 minutes. The song "Tabula Rasa" has a music video released on YouTube to help promote the album.
The album opens on an unexpected type of track - a very short instrumental track made predominantly of ethnic percussion music with "Komenco." "Tabula Rasa" is up next, and it does a great job with showing a few different vibes of the band, from the heavier riffing to the more emotionally charged vocal parts. "Kuraman" opens up with a very angular riff, that is carried in large part by the bass and drums. This is one of the songs were Joel still sounds a little bit like Tool, but you can hear pretty early in the song that he is differentiating himself, and the band, from the earlier comparison of their sound. "The Words" is one of the more straightforward heavier songs in the intro, but quickly moves to a slightly quieter vibe, adding a whole new element to the track. "Pluton" has a very aggressive opening, and you can actually hear the un-amplified sound of the strings on the bass in the intro and you can tell that Stefan is really thrashing those strings. "Pluton" changes up its vibe several times during the song. "Koniskas" starts out with some falsetto vocals and soft music, and then becomes a little bit heavier. "Ennui" is carried in large part by a very cool bass riff and an over-simplified guitar riff, but with a LOT of groove - making this potentially one of my favorite tracks from the album. "Void" is another of the heavier tracks on the album, taking a lot of advantage of a prominent bassline and a wall of sound that seems relentless. The album closes out with "The Other's Fall," which is very much an atmospheric track for several long passages, but also containing some of the most interesting instrumental moments from the album.
Lyrics — 9
Joel Ekelöf's vocals on the last album were very much in the style of Maynard James Keenan, causing the band to sound a good deal like the band, Tool. On this album there are still moments where Joel's vocals are slightly reminiscent of Maynard's vocals, but much more often his original voice shines through. I couldn't find anything to criticize with the actual lyrics.
Overall Impression — 9
While "Cognitive" was very much a progressive metal album, "Tellurian" mixes in elements of progressive rock and post-metal - to great effect. This is one of my favorite new albums that I have heard this year. If I had to pick a favorite track, then it would probably be either "Pluton," "The Other's Fall," or "Ennui." The album artwork is also very interesting, and potentially thought-provoking - which is what a good progressive album cover should be all about.