CONCERT REVIEW: SOEN Continues To Unveil Triumphant Evolution With Electrifying Live Show At The Axis Club In Toronto (May 9th, 2024)

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It’s no secret that we love Soen here at Sonic Perspectives. Over the years we covered them extensively, be it with reviews or interviews. Therefore, it was with great pleasure that we welcomed the opportunity to check them out live at The Axis Club in Toronto, on May 9th.

Soen has been on a steep upward trajectory, with every new album being more complex and gathering more attention from the fans. The current tour is the second one they’re doing in North America, and the scale of the venue, at least for the Toronto date, showcases their evolution. In late 2022 they played at Lee’s Palace, and tonight they filled out The Axis Club, a much more modern space, which was renovated after Covid.

You might remember The Axis Club from our review of Caligula’s Horse’s first-ever show in Canada, back in February – if not, check it out here. Located in the heart of Toronto’s busy downtown, it has hosted many prog metal shows, even before the pandemic, when it was called The Mod Club. For Soen, it was nicely packed, although one could move around without being too squeezed or elbowed. The opening act was Trope, who performed as an acoustic duo, and presented songs from their debut album, “Eleutheromania” and ended the show with their recently released single, “Callous”.

Soen entered the stage at 8:45, with the poem “Do not go gentle into that good night”, by Dylan Thomas, being recited in the background. They confidently started the set with the one-two punch of “Sincere”, from their latest album “Memorial”, and what is arguably their greatest hit so far, the controversial “Martyrs”. Bassist Oleksii Kobel played a beautiful extended intro on the mellower “Salvia”, and soon it was “time to dance”, as announced by singer Joel Ekelöf as the band kicked off “Lascivious”.

Rising to the occasion that the increase in popularity presented them, Soen’s production values on the current tour are noticeably better this time around. From the quality of the pre-recorded intros to their songs, to the stage costumes, and even the merch quality, it’s clear that they reached a different level. The show progressed with “Unbreakable”, another highlight of their latest album, where Joel had the crowd helping out in the chorus. When so many feel disenfranchised and alone in the world of today, it’s no surprise that many decided to join him in singing “I need something to believe/Outside the world is dark but we are cursing the sun/I need something to believe/We’re marching as the army of the unbreakable”.

The heavy “Deceiver”, from 2021’s “Imperial” was another high point of the night, with guitarists Lars Åhlund and Cody Lee Ford taking the spotlight. “Monarch” and “Illusion” followed, both with soulful guitar solos, and a very emotional moment as Joel dedicated the latter to the current situation in the Middle East.

The waltz-like “Modesty” showcased one of the few solos from Lars, who otherwise provided rhythm guitar and piano parts, primarily. The title track from 2018’s “Lotus” was also really well received, with the band showcasing their Pink Floyd influences and Cody playing an absolutely cathartic solo. “Antagonist” picked up the pace, with drummer Martin Lopez showcasing his timekeeping abilities to their fullest.

The show ended with the proggy “Jinn”, which the crowd chose over “Lunacy” when Joel asked them to vote, and the heavy “Violence”. The band’s ability to address political and current issues without upsetting either side and to connect with feelings of loneliness and marginalization ensures they resonate with a younger audience. Like a player who leaves junior league and starts to play professionally, Soen are now ready for the next challenge, and to move to higher echelons in the progressive metal realm. 

Soen Photo Gallery (Photos by Mihaela Petrescu Photography)

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