Thursday 9 January 2020

SODEN - Onwards... Towards The Tundra (Album Review)

Release date: January 31st 2020. Label: Dirty Filthy Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Onwards… Towards The Tundra - Tracklisting

1. Onwards…
2. Towards The Tundra
3. Expedition 1
4. Whales
5. Swim With Turtles
6. Antarctica Lay Before Us
7. Cold Waters Still


Moore - Drum Grooves
Briggs - Bass Grooves
Block - Guitar Grooves


Onwards… Towards The Tundra is the new album from Instrumental Doom/Stoner/Post-Metallers Soden. These guys are a band I hadn’t heard of before. So this is my first exposure to the band and I know Soden have released a couple of releases in the past. I didn’t know what to expect with this album but I was pleasantly surprised to hear what Soden have delivered with their second album.

Perhaps taking influence from early-era Pelican and Russian Circles but with a more hard-hitting Doom/Stoner Rock atmosphere. The ambient sounds allow to keep Soden grounded and never to go over the top with their music. The album has a lush cinematic groove which allows the album to be quite progressive and daring in places.

Opening song – Onwards… - starts very slowly with its Ambient/Post-Stoner riffs before taking time for the heavy pounding and almost raw-sounding Doom/Post-Metallic vibes to take centre stage. The song has an element of distortion playing in the background and offers a more “Drone” based effect. The song has a good balance of quiet and ambient parts with the more dramatic heavier parts giving Soden a heavier presence that you least expect.

Second song – Towards The Tundra – is a Post-Doom style song that has a cold and icy exterior to it all. The song is quite unforgiving in places but the music does have a certain “romantic” feel to it. As Soden embrace their Post-Metal/Ambient influences with genuine warmth and affection. The distorted atmosphere rules the roost yet again but with powerful strands of Doom/Stoner Metal allowing Soden to have a more experimental sound. You can hear elements or feel influences of Pelican on this song. Though, Soden play their own creative and destructive style of music.

Third song – Expedition 1 – is more of a collection of sounds than an actual song. There are some cool interesting grooves on this song and I enjoyed the Ambient/Post-Rock atmosphere of it all. The song is quite short running under two and a half minutes.

Fourth song – Whales – returns to the “Shoegaze” environment that appeared on the opening two songs with some of the heaviest and harshest riffs on the entire album. The song continues with the “stop-start” Post-Metal approach which brings a sense of danger to the album. The distorted and almost industrial style of music can be quite deafening in places so expect a more rebellious style of music from Soden on this song.

The second half of the album sees Soden carry on with their aquatic based journey with songs: Swim With Turtles, Antarctica Lay Before Us, Cold Waters Still and Expedition 2. The second half of the album is way more confident than the first half with the band creating an unsettling and unapologetic sound that is beautifully heavy and surreal in places especially on Swim With Turtles and Antarctica Lay Before Us.

Onwards… Towards The Tundra is not your typical Instrumental Rock/Metal album. As Soden take genuine creative risks with their music by blending many different genres of music with Ambient interludes when the mood slows right down. The overall sound of the album does take some getting used to but I gather it’s meant to be this way. Mainly to match the cold and harsh environment that fits into the “Aquatic” theme and story of the entire album.

Overall, Soden have delivered an excellent and superbly produced album that sound epic from start to finish.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Chris at Dirty Filth Records for the promo. Onwards… Towards The Tundra Fighter will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Dirty Filth Records from Jan 31st 2020 though Pre-Orders start from Jan 24th 2020.