Albums from supergroups always make me feel torn. I am excited and worried at the same time whenever great musicians decide to collaborate, excited for obvious reasons but also worried because it would be a major disappointment listening to an album with a “dream come true” line-up that turns out to be mediocre. But with Soen there is no reason to fear. Cognitive is a magnificent progressive album.
The line-up of the band consists of Martin Lopez (former drummer of Opeth), Steve DiGiorgio (of Sadus, Death, and a myriad of other bands/projects), Joel Ekelof of Willowtree, and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis. Just the mention of the names is probably giving you enough reason to search for the album, right? Soen balances between two main influences, on one side the former band of Martin Lopez, Opeth, without any of the death metal influences of the legendary Swedish band, and on the other one of the most important bands of the ‘90s and ‘00s: Tool.
The only weak point might seem that when you first start listening to the album, it may sound a bit too similar to Tool with a few Opeth-like moments, but after a few listens you get that this is not the case. The music here is extremely technical, with great rhythmic parts (almost Meshuggah-like in the beginning “Oscillation”) and chaotic moments, for instance in “Slithering,” heavier moments, like in “Delenda,” and experimentations with percussion as in “Last Light,” all of which are influenced by Tool, but then the songs are much more straightforward and melodic than any Tool tracks. And that is where the Opeth factor kicks in, with Kim Platbarzdis beatiful work on the leads, giving a more melodic and melancholic tone, working great against the relentless rhythm section (fuck, I seriously forgot how great a drummer Martin Lopez is, no need to tell anything about Steve DiGiorgio either) and with Ekelof’s magnificent vocal performance (that does remind me of Michael Akerfeldt), the whole album manages to balance brilliantly between these two different sonic dimensions.
There you have it, a band that managed to blend together two of the greatest bands of progressive music, creating their own structure on the way, adding great musicianship and technicality and, most importantly, managing to bring great songs. Tracks like “Canvas,” “Purpose,” and especially the closing track of the album, “Savia,” are a testament that progressive music can have unconventional structure and be straightforward at the same time!! Weird, right? Listen to Cognitive and decide for yourself.
8.0 / 10
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