Scar Symmetry are – up to this album – a band I have heard of but known little, if anything, about. As such, this is written from the viewpoint of a SS virgin, which could be a good thing if you’re in a similar situation.
Five albums in nine years have seen the band gain a lot of popularity since they began with the aim of creating their own brand of “catchy death metal” back in 2004. The Singularity (Phase I – Neohumanity) is the sixth, and it was actually released a couple of days ago (Oct 3rd).
As the name implies, it’s the start of a collection – a trilogy, in fact. From the blurb:
The lyrics bring the listener beyond the event horizon of the technological singularity, where the ever-advancing breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, cryonics and cloning are bringing mankind to the verge of technocalypse and cybergeddon!
There is that vague Fear Factory / industrial edge to the album (very vague, but it’s there), which ties in with the song titles and lyrics. Vocally, the sound is hugely varied with both clean and traditional throaty death vocals in equal measure. These come courtesy of the band’s two singers, Roberth and Lars.
My first impressions were of something quite progressive. Whether this is in line with their older material, I don’t know, but it goes hand in hand with the three-album concept plan. Per Nilsson, the band’s guitarist, is apparently now the sole producer and music-writer so this is predominantly his vision. With the exception of two tracks (“Neohuman” and “Technocalyptic Cybergeddon”), track lengths are fairly normal – those two are over 8 and 10 minutes apiece!
Despite the prog feel, there’s definitely no lack of death metal though this is far from a pure death metal album. It really is a clash of styles, but done in a way as to make them work together rather than argue. If there’s a sound that could be described as “progressive death metal” then this is very much it.
Stand-out track for me – after a couple of listens as I’ve not had the time to really get into new stuff much this last week! – is “Limits to Infinity”. It sums up the musical ethos of the album. Fast, heavy intro with keyboards back it. Mildly distorted, cybernetic vocals up against heavier death ones while a crunching rhythm drives forward and then into a soaring chorus with a more traditional metal lick behind it. Hell, the cry of “There are limits to infinity” wouldn’t be out of place in a Europe track. Further into the song we get a dark, death metal segment with lyrics spat out before shifting into a frenetic clean guitar solo.
This is such a varied album that I can see fans of multiple genres being able to enjoy it. Hopefully existing Scar Symmetry fans will appreciate it too!