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'The Singularity (Phase 1 - Neohumanity)'
(Nuclear Blast)
Release Date: out now

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

scar symmetry

Sweden's Scar Symmetry are a smorgasbord of Metal styles describing themselves as melodic death Metal and containing elements that could be described as progressive Metal and also now tech Metal. Yes, yet another sub genre but hey, us journalists need to describe bands somehow!

No strangers to the concept album idea these ambitious Swedes have decided that their sixth full length studio album will be the first in a trilogy about transhumanism. Now I hadn't heard of that either but so far as I understand it now, this is about how humanity could and should use evolving technology to improve people's lives.

There are some obviously controversial and interesting ethical, practical and moral questions thrown up by this so while it may seem a bit obscure I can see that the subject is accessible to anyone into science fiction and is rich in dramatic possibilities.

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The lyric sheet will be an essential read for those looking to get a real handle on the story. Although since half of the vocals are the menacing growling of Roberth Karlsson then you would probably have to use that anyway. For me however the most important thing is the music which the concept has to hang around and on that front I think this may be the best Scar Symmetry album yet.

If I had to describe the sound this band have I would say that they are one part Hammerfall, one part Threshold and one part Amon Amarth but the truth is that such a description doesn't do them justice, especially on the form they are in here. Scar Symmetry have matured into a unit which takes these disparate influences and makes something unique and individual out of them. Married to some impressive songwriting and with superb musicianship among all the sound and fury this is at times mind blowing stuff.

The guitar work from Per Nilsson is outstanding and if this is the first album he has taken complete control of since helping to found the band in 2004 he should have done this earlier.

All the songs here have varying levels of complexity but somehow manage to balance the pounding Metal and growling vocal sections with huge melodic parts full of harmony vocals, swathes of keyboards and a strangely uplifting feel. After a short intro piece first full track 'Neohuman' manages the remarkable feat of having a chorus you can sing along to on top of frantic and ever changing rhythyms and is a song which really encompasses all that is great about Scar Symmetry.

The other tour de force here ends the album, the epic ten minutes plus of 'Technocalyptic Armageddon'. Focusing more on the death Metal side of the band it starts fast and furious but full of imagination and some truly fiery guitar. As it goes on it mellows out somewhat but is never less than fascinating and impressive.

I like Scar Symmetry but I have to confess this album bowled me over and surprised me by how good it is. Maybe they have been inspired by the tech Metal scene to start including these sorts of themes in the lyrics as well as the music but whatever the reason this is the album where everything has come together for them. I look forward to part two.

Line up:
Per Nilsson – guitars, backing vocals, keyboards, programming
Henrik Ohlsson – drums
Kenneth Seil – bass guitar
Roberth Karlsson – lead vocals (harsh)
Lars Palmqvist – lead vocals (clean)


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