Photo by John Wins

Finding something to believe in – SOEN live at Vanha Ylioppilastalo, Helsinki 24.3.

Author John Wins - 28.3.2024

A Sunday night with music is the best way to end the weekend and at the same time recharge your mental batteries for a new sequence of days that are about to begin, and nothing better than the musical poetry of SOEN to be the soundtrack of a cold night in the center of Helsinki.

Before the main act, the Finnish band Naryan performed, bringing a mix of melancholy and progressive rock, very well distributed by the technique of each of the seven musicians on stage. Soon the group promises to release its fourth studio work!

A few minutes after 20:50, an intro echoed on the walls of the venue. While a poem by Dylan Thomas was recited through the speakers, the lights took over the stage, bringing a cinematic effect well mixed with the sound, which made the experience immersive and exciting, culminating with the entrance of the band performing Sincere from the most recent album “Memorial”.

The live sound was still being adjusted when Martyrs was played as the second song on the setlist, but it was already possible to notice the energy of singer Joel Ekelöf, jumping along with the audience and showing the vocal quality of his timbre.

The beautiful bass introduction by Oleksii ‘Zlatoyar’ Kobel followed by a great percussion during Savia, bring a more intimate atmosphere once again created by lights, but it is quickly changed for the aggressiveness of the title track Memorial. It’s exciting to see this constant shift of colors and rhythms in the show.

Before the groove and excellent backing vocals of Lascivious, Joel mentioned the importance of Helsinki for the band, as it was the first city that SOEN ever performed in their career. After 12 years they are still grateful for the fans in the Finnish capital.

Another interesting aspect is the “democracy” that exists on stage, where each member has their moment to shine and receive the attention they deserve. Unbreakable also highlights the positive interaction between band and audience through Joel’s excellent performance. And this quality is not just limited to the vocalist, as in Deceiver the technique and excellence of each of the members is evident, as in the slide guitar of the duo Lars Åhlund and Cody Lee Ford. Before the storm, another intimate and calm moment with Ideate.

When the sirens began to sound, it was Monarch‘s turn to claim its throne, with an imposing and mesmerizing version. Fortress highlights a beautiful solo by Cody, while the ballad Illusion colors the stage with blue and purple lights, but these are overshadowed by hundreds of flashlights at the frontman’s request, creating a beautiful scene in which everyone was musically connected.

Despite being a virtuoso and extremely technical drummer, Martín López does only what each song asks, like in the excellent lines of Modesty. Also precise and talented is guitarist Lars, who alternates between strings and keyboards, sometimes doing both at the same time, believe it or not. Martin and Lars are essential parts of the good energy that the band emanates from the stage. Lotus has all these mentioned attributes that bring this mixture of poetry and heaviness that gives life to what SOEN is on stage.

The return for the encore begins with powerful riffs of Cody and Lars for Antagonist, but also shows the talent of Martin and his Latin percussion. During Lunacy, the way Joel interprets the song’s verses is another positive highlight, making the visual experience more impactful, followed by the gran finale with Violence. An excellent and different choice to end a show with a song from the most recent album, but it leaves the last taste of how the band is sounding in 2024, whether in the studio or live.

With one last appearance, just to say goodbye, the five members carried genuine smiles on their faces that were also visible in the fans who attended in large numbers at Vanha Ylioppilastalo. SOEN is constantly on the road and although we have the chance to watch the band every year, it is always important to admire the power that the group’s music has, as there are few bands that can perfectly do this combo of feelings, heavy music and poetry, but fortunately they are masters of this mix and succeed and continue to conquer the world.

You can listen to SOEN‘s latest album “Memorial” here:

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