Soen, a progressive metal supergroup from Sweden, was formed in 2004 by ex-Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and former Death, Testament, and Sadus bassist Steve DiGiorgio. The core lineup was later completed with the addition of vocalist Joel Ekelöf and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis. Over time, Soen has undergone several lineup changes, with Lopez and Ekelöf being the only consistent members.
The band’s inception stemmed from Lopez’s departure from Opeth, fueled by a desire to explore a more melodic, progressive sound in contrast to Opeth’s heavier roots. With DiGiorgio’s expertise, the band was immediately positioned as an entity to watch in the progressive metal scene, despite having yet to release any material. The fusion of Lopez’s complex and dynamic drumming style, DiGiorgio’s intricate bass techniques, and Ekelöf’s emotive and powerful vocals hinted at the distinctive sound they would soon establish.
From their inception, Soen, the progressive metal band from Sweden, has exerted an undeniable cultural impact within the heavy music community. Their unique amalgamation of progressive rock, heavy metal, and philosophical lyrical themes has provided an influential blueprint for progressive metal bands of the new generation.
As a supergroup, Soen was initially composed of musicians already recognized in the metal scene, offering a rare blend of expertise and talent. The cultural impact began from the band’s inception, as their pedigree promised and delivered high-quality music that set a new standard in the genre. They leveraged their individual reputations to draw attention to their new project, which soon stood on its own merits.
Soen’s influence extended well beyond their music. The band’s lyrics, often philosophical and introspective, have tapped into the zeitgeist of contemporary society. Their willingness to delve into themes of existentialism, spirituality, and human nature distinguishes them from their peers. In particular, their explorations of personal and collective responsibility in a changing world have resonated with fans, prompting introspection and encouraging dialogue.
The band’s consistent use of evocative and symbolic album art, often portraying human figures in surreal and contemplative scenarios, further illustrates their commitment to exploring complex themes. This use of visual symbolism, in conjunction with their lyrical content, provides a multifaceted artistic expression that enhances the impact of their music and extends their cultural reach.
Soen’s cultural significance can also be seen in the way they have navigated changes in their lineup. Unlike many bands that struggle with member departures, Soen has used these transitions as opportunities for growth and reinvention. Their openness to change and adaptability has sent a powerful message to the music industry and their fans about the importance of resilience and evolution in creative endeavors.
Moreover, Soen has contributed to the ongoing discourse surrounding mental health, particularly in the music industry. Their 2019 album, ‘Lotus,’ for example, served as a cathartic outlet for exploring themes of depression and personal struggle. In openly addressing these subjects, the band has helped destigmatize mental health issues within their community, further extending their cultural impact.
Their reach also extends to the global music stage. Soen has performed extensively worldwide, bringing their brand of Swedish progressive metal to diverse audiences. This has not only allowed them to gather a diverse and international fanbase but has also positioned them as representatives of Swedish heavy music on the global stage.
Soen’s influence within the progressive metal genre is irrefutable. They have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of the genre, blending complex rhythms and layered soundscapes with evocative and thought-provoking lyrics. Their sound, while rooted in heavy metal, transcends genre restrictions and demonstrates the vast potential of progressive music.
Despite their clear influence within the metal scene, Soen’s cultural impact extends beyond the genre. Their exploration of deep philosophical and existential themes contributes to larger cultural conversations. Their music, with its unique blend of technical mastery and emotional depth, has proven to resonate with a broad spectrum of listeners, demonstrating the power of music to bridge cultural divides.
In essence, the cultural significance of Soen lies in their capacity to weave a narrative that transcends the ordinary, delving into realms of introspection, societal critique, and human understanding. Their musical journey is a testament to their ability to connect with listeners on a deeper level, validating their emotions and experiences in a way that few bands can achieve. Their influence on progressive metal, their representation of Swedish music internationally, and their ability to address complex philosophical themes attest to their lasting cultural impact.
Following years of composition and refinement, the band’s debut album, ‘Cognitive,’ was released in 2012. Displaying a careful balance of heavy progressive elements and melodic songwriting, ‘Cognitive’ received considerable critical acclaim for its layered soundscapes and thought-provoking lyrics. The album hinted at influences from iconic bands such as Tool and Opeth but carved out its own niche in the progressive metal genre. This debut marked Soen as a formidable player in the field, showcasing a unique blend of power, complexity, and emotional depth.
In 2014, Soen underwent its first major lineup change with the departure of DiGiorgio and Platbarzdis. Their respective replacements, Stefan Stenberg on bass and Marcus Jidell on guitar, marked a new era for the band. This refreshed lineup released ‘Tellurian’ later that year, which delved further into progressive elements and exhibited a stronger emphasis on atmospheric sound design. This change in musical direction signified the band’s growth and evolution, with their signature blend of heaviness and melody remaining intact.
By 2017, Soen had undergone another transition, with Lars Åhlund joining the band on keyboards and effects. The same year, ‘Lykaia,’ the band’s third album, was released. The addition of Åhlund broadened the sonic palette of Soen, adding further depth to their sound with the use of synths and ambient textures. ‘Lykaia’ marked a new pinnacle for the band, both in terms of musicality and conceptual depth, with its exploration of spirituality, religion, and human nature.
As the band continued to evolve and refine their sound, they released their fourth studio album, ‘Lotus,’ in 2019. ‘Lotus’ received widespread acclaim for its poignant lyrics, melodic complexity, and emotional intensity. The album showed a band that was not afraid to push the boundaries of their musicality and lyrical content, leading to comparisons with iconic progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd.
After nearly two decades, Soen has established a distinctive place within the progressive metal genre. Their journey is one marked by change, growth, and constant evolution, and it is the synthesis of these elements that has shaped the band’s unique identity. With the release of each new album, Soen continues to explore new territories and experiment with different elements, all while retaining their signature blend of complex rhythms, layered soundscapes, and evocative lyrics.
Through their progressive journey, Soen has evolved beyond the initial supergroup label and has emerged as a standalone force within the music industry. The band’s history is a testament to their resilience, creativity, and commitment to their craft. In an ever-changing music landscape, Soen remains a beacon of inventive and thoughtful progressive metal, consistently pushing the boundaries of their musicality and artistic expression. The band’s embrace of change, both in terms of personnel and musical direction, is a key part of their history and identity.
In 2021, Soen released their fifth studio album, ‘Imperial.’ This album was a significant milestone in the band’s career, showcasing an even greater level of musical sophistication and lyrical depth. The album’s theme revolved around societal structures and the human condition, with a strong emphasis on personal and collective responsibility. Their technical precision and emotive songwriting combined to deliver a resonant message that reflected the tumultuous times of its creation.
Furthermore, ‘Imperial’ also marked the debut of Canadian-born guitarist Cody Ford, who had replaced Marcus Jidell in 2018. Ford’s contribution to the band was immediately evident in the album’s intricate guitar work, which added a new dimension to Soen’s already multi-layered sound.
By this point, Soen’s discography had consistently demonstrated an ability to blend complex and technical musicianship with lyrical content that probed deep philosophical and existential questions. Their music had become a compelling exploration of the human condition, addressing themes such as isolation, redemption, and the struggle for understanding.
Soen’s music, though grounded in the progressive metal genre, has always exhibited a strong influence from other musical styles. The band’s diverse musical background has helped them create a unique sound that seamlessly blends elements of progressive rock, heavy metal, and even jazz. This eclectic mix of influences is a testament to the band members’ wide-ranging musical tastes and their desire to push the boundaries of their genre.
Over the years, Soen has toured extensively across the world, developing a strong fan base that appreciates their unique musical offerings. Their live performances have been lauded for their precision and energy, effectively translating their complex studio recordings to a live setting. These performances serve as a testament to the band members’ technical prowess and their shared dedication to delivering a memorable live music experience.
Soen is poised to embark on a comprehensive tour across Europe and the United Kingdom this autumn. Their journey commences in the city of Odense, Denmark, on the 20th of September, marking the beginning of a series of performances that will traverse multiple European countries. The band’s tour itinerary includes Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and culminates in the United Kingdom. This extensive tour signifies the band’s commitment to their international fanbase and their desire to bring their music to diverse audiences.
As part of their tour, Soen will be performing in Portugal, with shows scheduled in two major cities. On the 4th of October, 2023, they will be performing at the Hard Club (Sala 1) in Porto. The following day, on the 5th of October, 2023, they will take the stage at LAV – Lisboa ao Vivo (Sala 2) in Lisbon. Tickets for these performances are available on Ticketline, providing fans with an accessible platform to secure their attendance at these highly anticipated events.
Martin Lopez, a key member of Soen, has expressed his enthusiasm for the upcoming tour. He asserts, “Performing for our fans is the very essence of Soen, it is the fuel that makes our souls burn the brightest of flames. We cannot wait to get back on the road and play for you all!” His statement encapsulates the band’s passion for their craft and their dedication to their fans. It also underscores the band’s eagerness to return to live performances, a sentiment shared by many artists in the wake of global events that have limited such opportunities.
In terms of their artistic evolution, Soen has always embraced a collaborative approach to songwriting. Despite several lineup changes, the band has retained a core ethos centered around mutual respect, shared creativity, and a common desire to push the boundaries of their music. This spirit of collaboration has fostered a sense of unity and purpose within the band, allowing them to navigate the challenges of the music industry while consistently delivering high-quality music.
Further demonstrating their influence and commitment to delivering thought-provoking music, Soen announced the release of a new studio album, ‘Memorial,’ set for September 1st via Silver Lining Music, shortly after their appearance at the Prognosis festival. The album signaled the band’s continued exploration of their unique sound, blending heavy guitars with their innate musicality and melodiousness.
One of the tracks on this album, ‘Unbreakable,’ was subject to particular attention and discussion. According to drummer Martin Lopez, ‘Unbreakable’ is a song about the self-imposed limitations of human potential, triggered by blind faith in certain beliefs. Echoing this sentiment, vocalist Joel Ekelöf emphasized the polarizing nature of modern politics and media, which often portray issues in absolute terms. He stressed the importance of humility and openness to various perspectives for personal growth, referring to ‘Unbreakable’ as a symbiosis of classic metal and Soen’s signature progressive style.
The band released a video for the single ‘Unbreakable,’ further illustrating their themes and the powerful message encapsulated within their music. The upcoming album, ‘Memorial,’ would be available in several formats, including deluxe CD, digital, 12″ vinyl in both black and color variants, as well as special Direct-to-Customer products and bundles.
In tandem with the album release, Soen announced a European tour for September and October, further extending their global influence and reach. In addition to this tour, Soen also performed at the Download Festival on June 11th, a testament to their growing presence within the global music scene.
‘Memorial’ and its tracks, including ‘Unbreakable,’ encapsulate Soen’s commitment to create music that not only transcends genre boundaries but also provokes thought and introspection. The band continues to embrace and project the philosophical, psychological, and societal themes that have made them stand out in the progressive metal genre. Their cultural resonance, as represented by albums like ‘Memorial,’ attests to their profound impact on the music community and beyond.
In summation, the history of Soen is one marked by evolution, resilience, and unyielding creativity. As a band, they have consistently used their platform to explore profound themes while pushing the boundaries of progressive metal. Their commitment to innovation and artistic exploration has solidified their place as a leading force in the genre, and their continued evolution promises an exciting future for fans of their music.