Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Music Review - Soen - Tellurian
The debut album by Soen sounded more like Tool than Tool sounded like Tool on their last few albums. Since Tool’s music doesn’t wind my gears, neither did Soen’s debut album. Their second album, Tellurian, is a different story. Sure, the Tool influence is there but it’s mixed with mid-90s Opeth. I’m a finicky lad so to my ears Opeth’s first few albums were too raw and their albums after Ghost Reveries seemed to be lacking oomph so I’m left with a small handful to enjoy. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the drummer for the Opeth albums that I like (and not the drummer for the albums I didn’t like) is Martin Lopez, also the drummer for Soen. I never would have imagined that a drummer could exert so much influence over the style and sound of a band but perhaps I’m just ignernt.
What does such a Tool/Opeth love-child sound like? At times it’s light and airy and others it gets downright heavy, progressive but never overly complicated (like some King Crimson), often melancholy and atmospheric but not downright dark. And vocalist Joel Eklöf, to his credit, never goes Cookie Monster on us, even though there are times when I feel that a little vocal gravel would have been appropriate. So while at times the music will burst into a frenzy of distortion and tumbling rhythms, the vocalist remains as tranquil and smooth as his cue-ball head. Some songs, like “The Words,” hypnotize you with soothing melodies, only occasionally bringing in the distortion as a kind of background noise, while other songs like the angular “Ennui” kick off with a bang and only let up long enough to make sure the next punch lands in the right spot. None of the songs are going to rip your head off, though there are quite a few times when your pulse should quicken. Rather, the music is almost artful and, dare I say, delicate, but in a masculine kind of way (he says scratching himself in a manly manner). Going back to Opeth, the album is mostly sedate like Damnation, never coming even close to the frenzy found in parts of Blackwater Park, and yet there are times when the songs pulse with the energy that only distorted guitars can provide.
Now about that cover. Look at that, will ya? It’s an anthropomorphic rhino eating little humans. Unsual, yet artfully presented. Tellurian is a bit like that: a little bit artsy, a little bit monstrous, and a little bit human.