The wolf represents many things. Royalty, aggression, anger, grace... really, a wolf can be anything you think of it. Progressive rock band Soen will have you enter the soul of a wolf in their new album, Lykaia.
When you picture a wolf (after looking at the album cover, of course), you imagine an enraged creature, eyes red with anger and teeth snarling at you. Now take that image, and put yourself into that animal. That is the essence of Lykaia, a sort of undying hunt for an undisclosed prey. That prey is up to you to decide - it represents something that you need to find to provide yourself clarity. Right from the start of the record, you are faced with darkness, the riffs of 'Sectarian' bringing forward the perfect crossroads between Opeth and Tool. It's as if the empty anger of Opeth's music met the spiraling dimension of Tool's and made something not otherwordly, but spiritual.
As the record continues, you feel as if you really begin to become one with a wolf. The album is very well paced, perfectly transitioning between anger, mystery, and somberness. The first two tracks really serve to get you into the mindset, and from there the album really takes off. The slow trod of 'Lucidity' moves you from the conviction of a wolf and turns you towards the more patient side of one. You move through the snow as you think, the jazzy, bluesy mid-section of the song providing you moments to clearly think. The chaos returns immediately in 'Opal,' the driven and angry riffs invigorating a bloodthirsty nature within you.
The great part of Lykaia is that it has diversity. This album doesn't stay on an angry trend for too long, nor does it remain too mellow for too long. Every moment is plotted out perfectly to exhibit the right feelings at the right times. The mysterious energy of 'Jinn,' for example, resolves itself in a great Middle Eastern theme to end it all off. The beautiful, minimal bridge of 'Stray' is also a great example of this idea, as the song immediately builds back with huge pangs of anger and rage before the track comes to an end.
The album's thrilling conclusion comes in the form of the progressive epic 'God's Acre.' It feels like a Scandinavian anthem in many ways - you can feel the lights shining through the clouds of the huge fjords as you climb them alone. No signs of life surround you except for miles, and as everything goes dim, you get a final burst of energy to reach the peak. 'God's Acre' is the anger, rage, uncertainty, and sadness this entire album built within you channeled into one final message: continue. As it fades out, your destination comes ever closer. The album ends without you reaching it; it leaves the rest to you.
Your mind and soul became that of a wolf in Soen's Lykaia, the rage and fear of the ages before and ahead of you becoming the subject of your mind. You don't find yourself in another world or in someone else's mind on this record; rather, your mind gets put into something new. That's a feat that few can say they have successful accomplished.
Favorite Tracks: Opal, God's Acre, Lucidity, Jinn
Least Favorite Track: Orison
Rating: 92 / 100
Buy or listen to Lykaia here: