“Lotus”, SOEN’s latest album, was definitely a big surprise to me. I had never really listened that much to the Swedish progressive metal act, but “Lotus” put them on my radar, and it’s still one of my favorite releases of 2019. So when Raven Management announced that SOEN would play a show at The Circus along with support acts THE PRICE and Finland’s hottest prog act WHEEL, I knew I had to be a part of the event.
The evening started with the Italian alternative metal act THE PRICE. I had never really heard their music, so I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as the band started playing their songs, I was positively surprised. As far as I know, the band is not that known yet in Finland, so, unfortunately, the turnout for the support act was in the beginning not that great. A shame, because with songs like “Stormy Weather”, and “Tears Roll Down”, the band managed to grab my attention and they didn’t let it go until they left the stage. Since it was a Wednesday evening, the audience needed a little bit more time to warm up, vocalist Axel Capurro also noticed, and pointed out the cultural differences between the audience and them. At the end of the set, people got a bit looser, and the atmosphere was definitely a bit more relaxed.
It doesn’t come to a surprise anymore that WHEEL managed to get quite the turnout, the band has proved themselves on many occasions to be a revelation in the Finnish metal scene these days, even The Circus, one of Finland’s biggest venues, is almost too small for the band. The band even had a secret weapon in place, named Jyri Helko, who was filling in for bass player Mikko Määttä. It was surprising to see Helko in a prog setting, but as talented as he is, he totally nailed the songs, and had great energy on stage with the band.
WHEEL started off their set with “Lacking”, which is interestingly enough the last track of their debut album “Moving Backwards” and definitely created an intense atmosphere. With their black hoods and a suiting lighting show, the band captivated the audience from the start. “Vultures”, perhaps my favorite track from the album, followed and all around me fellow progheads were enjoying and somewhat bouncing to the complex rhythmic sections by drummer Santeri Saksala.
This year only, I’ve managed to catch WHEEL about six times. With any other band this might be a bit problematic or even boring. But not with WHEEL. Every show, the band has crafted a completely new setlist, have managed to get better and better at playing. While one of the first shows I attended the band perhaps had the impression of being too much focused on their instruments, the band (after an extensive tour) now manage to play their complex music very tightly but in a more relaxed manner. It’s been great to witness such an evolution in their live shows. This was possibly the best show I have ever witnessed from the band. WHEEL finished off their set with the self-titled song “Wheel”, and proved their place as the support act of one of the most legendary prog acts of all time.
After those two explosive performances, it was time for SOEN. Perhaps a bit later than scheduled, the band came on stage and started playing “Covenant”. From the beginning, it was clear that this was going to be a showcase of extremely talented musicians, playing a dynamic and tight set. Everything was on point during the show, the lights were beautiful, even though sometimes blinding, the sound was impeccable, and the playing was solid.
The band clearly enjoyed being back in Finland, since it had been a while for SOEN to play in their neighboring country. “Opal” followed, and continued the strong beginning. The band continued with another track from “Lotus”, named “Rival”, to which the audience was singing along to, and included great rhythmic sections by drummer Martín Lopez. The band included only one song from “Tellurian”, and even managed to pick my favorite one “Tabula Rasa” – thanks for that SOEN. But it was “Lascivious” that truly got the crowd’s attention, it’s perhaps one of the most beautiful tracks on “Lotus”, and I surely did my best to shout along with the words.
My personal highlight, however, was “Opponent”, which is perhaps one of my favorite tracks of SOEN, and they managed to find an appropriate slot for it in their setlist, after the calmer “Jinn”. “Opponent” sounds even greater live, as the vocalist Joel Ekelöf adds a little bit groove to the rhythm of the song. “Slithering” marked the end of the night, but the band came back for three more songs, “Savia”, “Sectarian” and the title track “Lotus”. The former being a very intriguing way of ending a show, a courageous choice, that definitely worked, as it chilled me down to the bone. With goosebumps, I left the venue, thinking what a wonderful evening it had been.
Apart from the great performances, as a photographer, I have to make a positive remark about the photo pit this time around. Having the entrance at the left side (due to renovations) works out way better than the usual small entrance we have to squeeze ourselves through on the right side. Regardless of that, this was an outstanding evening, with great support acts, a surprising performance by THE PRICE, and Finland’s prog favorites WHEEL. SOEN played an incredible show, of which I honestly can’t even find one negative thing to say. So I’m going to conclude with the fact that if you ever get the chance to see SOEN live in your town, go see them! They will blow your mind.
- Tabula Rasa
- Savia (Encore)
- Sectarian (Encore)
- Lotus (Encore)
GALLERY: 22.05.2022 Gwendydd, Marianas Rest, Ensiferum, & Dark Tranquillity @ Vanha Ylioppilastalo, Helsinki
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