ZT Interrogation: Soen open up on their new album, Memorial

With a new album on the way, Swedish prog metal favourites Soen sit down with Paul Castles to give him the inside track on Memorial.

ZT: Hi guys, congratulations on making such a superb new album, Memorial (Released 1 September) did things largely run to plan with this record?
Thank you! And yes, thankfully mostly everything ran according to plan. We were quite ambitious with the deadline we set for ourselves but deadlines are good! They make you work as hard as possible. Alex Backlund from Fascination Street Studio did a fantastic job with the recording/mixing of the record. Hats off to him for his great work.

ZT: Are these all brand new songs or have any been lying low in the background for a while?
All brand new. When we start a new album it’s always fresh ideas. Ideas that came during previous albums are thrown out. The only exception would be the song ‘Vitals’. This was a song Lars and Joel had worked up some time ago and we thought it was the right time to give it a shot and record it.

ZT: How was the studio itself, did things run smoothly?
Very smoothly. Alex was great to work with. Nowadays we’ll typically do the drums and the vocals in the studio and the guitars and keyboard parts are recorded at home. It’s cost and time effective this way. The guitars are reamped later and then the pieces get put together.

ZT: This is the band’s sixth album, has your approach to making music changed much down the years?
The main constant is that most of the song ideas begin with Martin. He’ll have a thousand demos and we’ll slowly hash out which ones have the most promise and build them from there. But since the Imperial album we’ve taken a step forward in our demo quality and writing and sharing efficiency. We did that album during covid so it forced us all to get with the times and learn to record ourselves properly and share ideas in an organized way. It’s made things a lot easier and our ability to actualize a song in the demo stages has come a long way.

ZT: While there’s a heavy tone running through these songs there’s also some searing melodies, was it a challenge to find that blend that you were seeking?
Striking a balance of heaviness and melody is important to us. I think it comes naturally to us in the songwriting process. What’s important in the mixing stage is that everything has its place while remaining heavy. Alex did a great job with this. 

ZT: The album has some real highs, is there a thread connecting any of these songs?
‘Memorial’, ‘Incendiary’ and ‘Icon’ are connected in a sense that they are all about a war from three different perspectives. The parent sending their child off to war, the child themselves, and the one defending their country. Other than that the songs are mostly commentaries of various things happening in the world.

ZT: The first track is called ‘Sincere’ – well named as it feels there is a lot of honesty running through the core of this album?
Always. It’s important for us to write honestly and about things we are passionate about. I think your audience can tell when you’re feeling the music you’re playing – especially live, and it makes for a great experience together.

ZT: Who else was involved in the album, a female voice really makes its presence felt on the wonderful ballad, ‘Hollowed’?
Yes, having Elisa on Hollowed was a fantastic addition to the song. We were looking for a female voice and through some mutual friends we were introduced to Elisa. Her voice had a perfect chemistry with Joel and we loved her raw emotional energy. Joakim Simonsson, who was the piano player on our Atlantis album, is the pianist on ‘Vitals’. His work really elevated that song and made it one of my favorites on the album.

ZT: How eager are you to take these new songs with you on the road – You have a month-long tour through Sept/Oct?
Very! The Imperial run was fun, but after over 100 shows we’re excited to change up the setlist. These new songs are very energetic as well and will bode well in a live setting.

ZT: You’re in London in October for one date, any more UK shows planned?
Not at the moment, but we’d definitely like to make some more UK shows happen!

ZT: You did of course play Download in June, how did you enjoy that?
Really enjoyed it. The set was short and sweet but we were warmly embraced by the crowd. It was a scorcher but we had a great time hanging out and checking out other bands. We hope to be back soon.

ZT: Soen are now able to perform to big crowds all over the world – was this the plan from day one – or have you exceeded those early expectations around what this band could achieve?
It was the dream and we’ve just been following that. Every year we just continue to work and enjoy what we’re doing and we’re just happy to see where all of it takes us. We’re thankful for our fans all over the world that make this dream a reality.

Memorial is released on 1 September via Silver Lining Music. You can pre-order the album as a Deluxe CD, 12” Vinyl Album in Black and colour variants, digital formats and special D2C products and bundles here.

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