The third album from Swedish prog metal super-group, Soen, features some superb musicianship, wistful melodies and moody atmospheric refrains. The Swedes love a good melody and Lykaia is rammed full of them from every part of the band.
Things get off to a nice heavy start with Sectarian, which follows a symphonic structure. There is a staggered percussive pattern and some magical open vocals from Joel Ekelöf, who is flawless throughout the album. His vocal abilities range from cutting on tracks like Orison to majestically lucid on the Eastern-influenced Jinn. His thoughtful and precise performances throughout the album draw comparisons with Serj Tankian, an equally gifted and understated vocalist.
Tracks like Lucidity and Paragon owe a little of their depth and scale to Pink Floyd, but there's nothing striking musically here except the band.
Martin Lopez's drumming is impassioned and subtle, he's able to lead a phrase or follow; he knows when to hold back and go for the drum kit like a demon. When he was with Opeth he never sacrificed precision and feel for power, the same is true here and once again he doesn't disappoint. Stefan Stenberg on bass has an equally artful way of playing that just keeps the tracks rolling along.
However, during the louder moments his textured bass lines get a bit lost in the mix, which loses the impact of his adroit playing. New members Lars Åhlund (keyboards/guitar) and Marcus Jidell (guitar) are a solid addition to the band playing with a sense of synergy that is very apparent on tracks like the seven-minute opuses, Opal and Paragon. On these tracks, two of the best on the album, Lopez layers things up with adding a djembe along with other percussive techniques. It's these intricacies in their musicianship that really allow Soen to stand apart.
There's certainly some outstanding moments, but the whole album feels a little too pedestrian in places when played in its entirety. There's also nothing groundbreaking enough here to really be considered 'progressive.' On a track, by track basis, there is some exceptional work, but the whole album doesn't flow together quite as you would hope, but as a musicians' album it's spellbinding stuff.
Groupie Rating: 4/5