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There can be no argument that the world we live in, and the lives we lead, are as twisted and complicated as most of us can remember. Society offers more ‘modern progress’ than ever before, yet humanity seems as regressive as it has been for the last 100 years.
Having spent the last 6 months digging deep into the muddy depths of these situations and their own related emotions, on February 1st 2019, Swedish-based progressive metal group Soen will release their 4th album, Lotus, via Silver Lining Music. The nine songs comprising Lotus are intoxicating, addictive aural therapies, questioning much of today’s darkness while juxtaposing them with moments of great escape and hope.
“We are all very fortunate to have this place where we can go and explore thoughts, perspectives and emotions which everyday life maybe does not have the room for,” says Martin Lopez, “there are definitely things that we say, and places we go, in Soen which would be very hard to express without us coming together and creating music.”
Since Lopez and Joel Ekelöf formed the group back in 2010, Soen have never shied away from exploration and analysis of self or society, both as musicians and expressionists. 2012’s Cognitive beat a firmly heavy, progressive metal path, before 2014’s Tellurian (with its explorative Pink Floyd spirit and Opeth-like forceful power) saw Soen start to stride freely into their own power and unique visions. Their third offering, Lykaia, was a conceptual journey exploring earthier places, and Lotus is another journey using a different set of perspectives.
“Lotus is more ‘individual’ songs than a ‘concept piece’ per se,” explains Ekelöf. “I think (with Lykaia) we were experimenting with making the sound more analog, going back in time for a more vintage feel, and now we are in a more ‘actual’ than analog frame of mind. We wanted to carry the live tradition, the live feeling, that energy, to the album. Many bands bring LCD screens and backing tracks onstage whereas we bring our instruments and ourselves. And we want that sense of live performance purity to be heard and felt in the material on Lotus.”
Produced by David Castillo and Iñaki Marconi at Ghostward Studios and Studio 6 between July and October 2018, Lotus contains dissertations on modern society such as “Rival”, “Covenant” and “Martyrs” that are fraught with poetic, finitely designed confusion and chaos. Specific meanings, however, remain at once deeply personal and wholly universal.
“I find it hard to describe any one song as any one thing,” says Ekelöf. “There is something much deeper if our audience wants to dig, but I would much rather leave it between them and us. Specifics tend to get messy and we don’t want to live with inaccuracies. The magic becomes when you take a song and make it your own, whether that be music, lyrics or both.”
As the name Lotus suggests, there is still strength, beauty and purity to be extracted from what at times seems like an endless cycle human regression.
“The world right now is undeniably a very strange, tense place,” says Lopez, “I think the songs clearly illustrate that, but they also reflect that we must now be stronger than ever in challenging, confronting and dealing with the pandemonium life throws at us all.”
Lotus also marks the first recorded Soen work of new Canadian-born guitarist Cody Ford, replacing Marcus Jidell who left the band earlier this year in a wholly amicable parting. Ford’s seamless integration into the band ensures that a vital element of the album remains trademark, snap-heavy, progressive Soen riffs as well as bringing some exquisite lead work.
“Cody’s an extremely talented guy, we are so happy to have him in the band and his solos speak far better for him than I can,” chuckles Ekelöf. “I also want to be clear about Marcus (Jidell), he is a fantastic person, a great musician, and we wish him all the best on his future journeys.”