Soen has been one of the bright spots in the new generation of progressive metal over the past decade, taking their place alongside contemporary giants such as Leprous and Haken. It’s no surprise that there was much excitement when they finally announced their first tour of the US, allowing Americans a chance to hear and see their catalog live for the first time.
After nearly a decade of waiting, Soen did not disappoint at all. Crowbar is a fairly small club/bar, and the band used that intimacy to absolutely connect with the audience. From the second the band came on stage and hit the opening notes of “Monarch” until the final encore of “Lotus”, the band had the rabid Ybor City crowd eating from the palm of their hands. The set-list provided a terrific exposure to their band. The selection was heavy on songs from their last two albums (“Imperial” and “Lotus”), with only a few appearances from their first two.
Vocalist Joel Ekelof was at the edge of the stage the entire night fist bumping with the crowd, and delivered a flawless vocal performance, especially on “Antagonist”, the lead single from their latest studio album. Bassist Oleksii Kobel held the low end well, and provided a highly animated performance, with his dreadlocks flailing as he grooved, especially when taking center stage for show highly “Savia”. Renowned drummer Martin Lopez showed exactly what made him be considered such a revered drummer during his tenure in Opeth. Lars Ahlund pulled double duty providing not only stellar guitars, but sublime keyboards and synths. Last but not least, Cody Lee Ford served up soaring lead guitar work as well as additional vocals.
When playing at small club venues like Crowbar, I’m fairly used to being disappointed with the acoustics and ambience. However, I must say that Soen have chosen a fantastic sound engineer for their live work, that gave extremely clear and crisp sound to truly capture the performance. Even being near the front of the stage and speakers, my ears heard every note and word of the band, without my ears screaming at me after the show ended. This is a hard task to achieve, especially in smaller venues, so props to him!
As I started this concert review off, Soen has become one of the torchbearers for progressive metal, and this concert was a fantastic display of their state in the world. A high energy performance with excellent sound and musicianship, along with a great rapport with a very grateful audience. Although I do have to sadly report that they didn’t get their requested “5 more songs!” encore that they kept chanting for. Regardless, Soen will very much receive an enthusiastic welcome whenever they return to Central Florida.