Released: 2012, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Let’s not dally about here – from the first glance at the abstract artwork and the first whiff of those harmonious vocals you’re all thinking the same thing - Cognitive is an album that seems to have gleefully rifling through Tool’s box of tricks.
Soen are going to be sick of hearing it, but to not mention such a comparison would be remiss – if not only in making me appear as though I’ve lost the ability to process sound... and thought. Denying the similarity is also not a possibility. Those who think they can build a credible case to the contrary have the same line in deluded as those deniers of certain global atrocities. And those who think the X Factor qualifies as a valid contribution to music.
Not that I’m lumping Soen in that category. Say what you will about them somewhat shamelessly ‘borrowing’ from Tool, this is a band of competent musicians – not least ex-Opeth drummer Martin Lopez and Testament bassist Steve DiGiorgio - and as such Cognitive is to be outright dismissed at your own cost.
Whilst the rest of the metal world may be living it loud, Cognitive descends like a fog – melancholy and sombre it provides a comfortable lull in which to lose yourself. By no means is this an album that’s easy to just gobble up and spit out, but Cognitive is more immediately accessible than some of Tool’s work. It is the intricacy though that captivates and coaxes out the patience required to really get the most out of the album.
Although not capturing the intensity of Maynard James Keenan, Joel Ekelöf’s harmonious vocals do ebb and flow beautifully throughout adding another layer of melody. The a cappella chorus vocals at the end of ‘Fraccions’ are a stand out treat, which deserve a mention. That said after toying with the listener in the build up, some of the songs are lacking that climatic conclusion, leaving you almost crying out to be pushed over it.
This type of progressive metal may well be under the thrall of Tool, but Soen have established themselves as capable of weaving their own powerful spell. If only they could do so without the borrowed magic.
Review by: Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs