Soen live in Athens 2019

Thursdays are difficult days to deal with. Especially when back from vacation and with the work reality pilling up. Somehow, I was looking to Soen to provide some kind of musical oasis to the after-summer mood. But to be honest they provided much more than that: a full, mystical groundbreaking live experience.
Soen Athens 2019 poster
Taking things from the start, the opening act, The Price, gave a good performance, but only for a limited crowd (supposedly due to the early opening on a weekday). Their mixture of alternative-meets-nu metal-meets-post grunge proved quite interesting, testifying for a band with talent. We might hear more from them in the future.
Next in line were Wheel (who released their debut full-length album “Moving Backwards” in February 2019). We followed them from the start, in a half-empty venue. I had not heard of the band before, so didn’t know what to expect. A mixture of modern Tool-like music hit us in the face, by the hoody-clothed members of the band. They play a djent mixture, with long songs, quite technical in nature and quite aggressive in other parts. I admit I’m not a big fan of this kind, but the Finnish got a warm welcome from people in the venue. They played for about 45 minutes, their 4-song set and left the stage for Soen. In chats with other people who attended, I heard that they are interested and will further delve into their music.
22:20, the venue is almost full and Soen are on the stage! I admit I’m a late-comer to their music. I only discovered them with the “Lotus” release this year, but I was instantly amazed and instantly a fan! I delved into their other three albums and I could not believe the musical treasure I ran into. I can testify that “Lykaia” and “Lotus” (their magnum opus so far) are essential listening for all contemporary metal fans. The band has managed to digest all the Tool-like influences and I feel that the “necessary” mentioning of the Americans to describe the band’s sound now becomes confining. A mixture of Porcupine Tree, Floyd, Theater, Pain Of Salvation, etc. marches in front of us.
Soen, in their first ever visit in Athens are triumphant! I remember the first thing we notice was the crystal-clear sound; I feel as if I’m listening to the CD but with more power and passion. The band works like a clock, they spit their metal hymns, with Joel Ekelöf taking the role of the shaman to hypnotize us. The next 90 minutes are full of emotions, a journey to the deepest secrets of our minds and souls. At this point I need to highlight the professionalism of the gig organizers, as band timings have been kept to the minute.
I really can hardly mention the highlight of the night, as there where plenty. Shall I mention the opening with “Covenant”, that took us by surprise with the mid-tempo start and then the storm following? The majestic “Jinn”, that forced the crowd to sing along the oriental verse, even after the end of the song? The chaos on “Martyrs” (their “hit” from “Lotus”) with the crowd getting wild? The monumental closure of the evening with the mezmerising “Lotus”! It’s really difficult to say…
What impressed me is the focus of the audience. It’s the first time in a concert in Greece (that I’ve been to) that the crowd seems to hang on every word, movement, reaction of the band’s members. So much, that during the breaks between the songs, the crowd is silent… waiting for the shamans to begin delivering the goods again. The only thing one can hear between some of the songs is the shouting “So-en, So-en”, a small testification of the fans’ love for the band.
It’s pointless to isolate and describe each band members’ performance, as they are all top-notch musicians. However, it’s hard to not mention Martin Lopez’s leading skills behind the drum kit, Lars Åhlund’s multi-instrument performance and – of course – Joel Ekelöf’s vocal abilities… I could well say that he doesn’t miss a note during his live performances.
Apparently the setlist was based on the “Lotus album” with six tracks. However we get a good dose from “Lykaia” (4 tracks) and just a taste from the first two albums, with the crowd welcoming “Savia” with cheers. All in all, a magnificent night, a testimonial of a band that is evidently on an inspirational spree, capable to give live performances that provide trills and goosebumps to their loyal followers. For me, Soen and Leprous are the mighty forces to lead the next generation of European progressive metal. Looking forward to seeing them soon. If they drop by your city, don’t miss the memorable experiences this band offers!

PS: Photos by Ioanna Kitrou, except for the GR ones.