Review Summary: Just like an old friend we keep inviting over.
Soen has been a faithful companion for the past few years. Their simple song-oriented formula, while never delivering anything artistically relevant, has always appealed to me. This is mainly due to the fact that the lads are able to write engaging songs without resorting to challenging techniques. This minimalist approach to music has been the band's main signature and has never undergone any significant mutation. I would just like to underline that Tool's ubiquitous presence on their debut album has faded, giving way to a more personalized formula that places Soen in a niche of their own. Despite the stylistic coherence between the various releases, only the founding members Joel Ekelöf (vocals) and Martin Lopez (drums) remain at the helm, thus being the backbone of the collective. However, regardless of lineup changes, Soen's sound never strayed too far from the predefined route, which indicates that the band's foundations are firmly established.
What drew my attention in the first singles, in addition to their expected familiarity, was the mastering and the snare sound, which weren't entirely to my liking. There's a roughness in both that doesn't seem to work well with the band's polished sound. First impressions are what they are, but you could say I didn't start off on the right foot. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy 'Antagonist' and 'Monarch', both interesting songs that are consistent with Soen's legacy. I just didn't get overly excited. Something that would change radically with the third single, 'Illusion', whose memorable chorus and guitar solo are among the best moments the band has ever recorded. Interesting how the technical aspects that had bothered me in the two previous tracks disappeared almost completely due to the song's intrinsic quality. Although it sounds cliché, quality always overcomes. The melancholic Gilmour-ish solo rises majestically through the delicate musical structure that moves in slow motion, gently flowing until it floods us completely. Soen's finesse thus reaches its peak, and the album its greatest highlight.
Despite swaying in safe territories, Imperial
never plunges into mediocrity. The mournful endings of 'Monarch' and 'Modesty', both accompanied by violin, or the slow-paced 'Fortune', are inspired moments that will surely please the fanbase. 'Antagonist's' main riff also deserves to be mentioned, as it carries the vigorous energy deeply embedded in the band's personality. The underlying predictability in Soen's music is thus counterbalanced either by these inspiring nuances or by solid musical performances that aim to deliver only what the song asks for, and nothing else. And when a musician plays for the sake of music and not his ego, the song always ends up winning.
is just like that old friend we keep inviting over. We already know all the conversations, every joke, each smile and outburst, without ever uncovering secrets or exciting new things. But in spite of all this, we would never replace him with someone else, because in the end, this routine is sometimes the anchor we need in our life.