SCAR SYMMETRY

Melodic Death Metal • Sweden
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Scar Symmetry is a modern melodic death metal band from Avesta, Sweden formed in 2004. In addition to typical melodic death metal aesthetics (numerous melodies and harmonies in the guitars, growling vocals, etc.), they incorporate synthesised sounds into their music. Their lyrics are themed towards mysticism, philosophy, and inner struggles. They had been touring through North America with Dark Tranquillity, The Haunted and Into Eternity, and took part in a US/Canada tour with Katatonia, Insomnium, and Swallow the Sun in 2007.

The band's third album, Holographic Universe, was released on June 20, 2008. Following the release, Scar Symmetry did not embark on tours and released a statement 11 September 2008, announcing that they had parted ways vocalist Christian Älvestam, due to touring conflicts and creative differences. On 6 October, they announced the replacements for Christian Alvestam: they will continue with two singers, Roberth Karlsson (growls) and Lars Palmqvist (clean vocals).

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SCAR SYMMETRY Discography

SCAR SYMMETRY albums / top albums

SCAR SYMMETRY Symmetric In Design album cover 4.05 | 11 ratings
Symmetric In Design
Melodic Death Metal 2005
SCAR SYMMETRY Pitch Black Progress album cover 4.18 | 16 ratings
Pitch Black Progress
Melodic Death Metal 2006
SCAR SYMMETRY Holographic Universe album cover 3.83 | 17 ratings
Holographic Universe
Melodic Death Metal 2008
SCAR SYMMETRY Dark Matter Dimensions album cover 3.06 | 12 ratings
Dark Matter Dimensions
Melodic Death Metal 2009
SCAR SYMMETRY The Unseen Empire album cover 3.97 | 13 ratings
The Unseen Empire
Melodic Death Metal 2011
SCAR SYMMETRY The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) album cover 4.09 | 12 ratings
The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity)
Melodic Death Metal 2014

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SCAR SYMMETRY live albums

SCAR SYMMETRY demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Noumenon And Phenomenon
Melodic Death Metal 2009

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SCAR SYMMETRY Reviews

SCAR SYMMETRY The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity)

Album · 2014 · Melodic Death Metal
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Primeval Scum
The Unseen Empire and Dark Matter Dimensions were good albums in their own right, but this album has removed any traces of doubt from my mind......Scar Symmetry is still as BRILLIANT as ever!

The greatness of the first part of The Singularity rivals the greatness of Holographic Universe in just about every way. If the final two parts can maintain the quality established here, the Trilogy will displace Holographic Universe as Scar Symmetry's crowning achievement. I was as skeptical as anyone when the band moved on without Christian Alvestam, and never thought I would love anything they did quite as much without him...until this album. Yes, it's that good.

The band has clearly mastered their sound. The vocalists sound amazing and their chemistry with each other and the rest of the band has improved by leaps and bounds. The pacing is perfect. They nailed the futuristic atmosphere they were going for and it goes hand in hands with the interesting lyrical concepts about transhumanism. The songwriting sees Scar Symmetry at their most progressive and creative, without sacrificing an ounce of the catchiness and fun choruses the fans love. All in all, this is exactly what I wanted out of a Scar Symmetry album in 2014 - and I can't wait until the next two installments!

Highlights: All the songs are top-quality stuff, but I like Neohuman, Neuromancers, and Technocalyptic Cybergeddeon the most.

SCAR SYMMETRY Holographic Universe

Album · 2008 · Melodic Death Metal
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Diogenes
Circa 2008, Scar Symmetry certainly had their fair share of up-and-coming weapons. Both jack-of-all-trades vocalist Christian Alvestam and lead guitarist Per Nilsson were getting quite a bit of hoopla for the band’s relatively quick rise to stardom, and rightfully so; the vocals and guitar work on Pitch Black Progress are what makes it pretty special as far as melodic death metal goes. So, why not take what made them pretty successful, and push it allll the way to the front to make them even MORE successful? A novel idea, my dear Swedes!

Sure enough, the vocals and lead guitar on 2008’s Holographic Universe are more prevalent than ever before: Alvestam’s ultra-clean vocals having all sorts of layers and freakish range about them and Nilsson’s frantic leads quickly garnering him several spots on unknown Youtube guitar channels (and if that isn’t fame, I don’t know what is!). Also thrown into the mix are various futuristic keyboard effects; while the band had dabbled in this area before, they hadn’t been used to this extent, working with the guitar to create spacey atmospheres amongst the squeaky clean production. Put all of this together into some Soilworky song structures, add a dose of science fiction-based lyrics, bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and out comes the album of the year, guaranteed!

…If only it were that simple. Yes, Scar Symmetry seemingly struck gold with their 3rd album, straying from their roots just far enough to carve a niche for themselves and making Nuclear Blast damn proud for milking the Gothenburg cow one last time. There isn’t much not to like here; Holographic Universe is catchy, it’s tight, it’s what was cool at the time, so what could possibly be making it fall short of its predecessor? Let’s investigate.

First, the songs. They’re all pretty good; “Morphogenesis” is your traditional strong opener with a sing-a-long chorus, “Quantumleaper” and “The Missing Coordinates” show how freakishly talented of a singer Alvestam is, and “Prism and Gate” just kicks all kinds of ass . The title track is 9 minutes, and makes good use of every one of them. If there was one knock on previous Scar Symmetry works, it was that there was too much filler (I don’t buy this, but meh); this is certainly not the case here. Put on any track of this clean and technical mix of death and power metal, and you’re bound to be impressed.

The issue is this: it gets stale. Fast. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I can’t listen to this album all the way through. There are simply too many tracks; I could easily do without “The Three-Dimensional Shadow” because by that point, the growled verse/sung chorus formula just doesn’t sound interesting anymore. The polished sound might be appealing at first, and you could easily put Holographic Universe on shuffle and enjoy the hell out of it for 30 minutes or so. But after that, it just loses its luster, droning on and on without sustaining the impact it initially had. While Pitch Black Progress is even longer, it has that dirty edge that can hold the attention of a death metal fan much longer than something that’s clearly overproduced.

The ideas are good. The music is very good. The originality is there. There is no reason why Holographic Universe shouldn’t be Scar Symmetry’s best album, and yet…it isn’t. While I was as enthralled as the rest when I first heard it, the a)lack of heaviness and b)eventual repetitiveness left me wondering what happened to that album that I once couldn’t get enough of. If you’re new to Scar Symmetry, this is still a great place to start (if not the best) for its overall accessibility, but I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t show this talented group of musicians at their best.

SCAR SYMMETRY Pitch Black Progress

Album · 2006 · Melodic Death Metal
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J-Man
In terms of modern Swedish melodic death metal, Scar Symmetry is one of the biggest names out there. While still showing distinct influences from the classic albums by bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and At the Gates, Scar Symmetry takes the Gothenburg melodeath style straight into the twenty-first century. This band is not hesitant when it comes to including newer trends into their core melodic death metal sound, and the groovy riffs, power metal-styled choruses, and sleek modern production means that old school extreme metal purists will probably find little to enjoy on Pitch Black Progress, the band's sophomore effort. However, if sleek, catchy, and well-written melodic death metal is what you long for nowadays, it's really difficult to go wrong with Pitch Black Progress. Scar Symmetry is a group of impeccable musicians and gifted songwriters, and they have just enough originality to make them a unique staple in the modern extreme metal scene. Although Pitch Black Progress isn't a truly excellent album, it comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

Though Scar Symmetry is rooted in Swedish melodic death metal, there are lots of extraneous influences from other genres to keep things fresh. There's a distinct power metal influence in the clean-sung choruses, as well as plenty of groovy thrash riffs and even a few deviations into progressive metal and metalcore territory. Pitch Black Progress is an album for metalheads with a taste for modern sensibilities and melody, as both of them play a big part in Scar Symmetry's core sound. The musicianship is extremely tight and polished across the board, but it's actually Christian Älvestam's vocals that usually take the cake for me. In addition to a powerful guttural growling style, he's also an excellent clean vocalist who manages to find the perfect balance between power and warmth - there certainly isn't any uninspired mandatory clean singing on Pitch Black Progress.

Although I always have a great time when I listen to Pitch Black Progress, it hasn't yet struck me as an album that will leave much of a lasting impression in the future. Everything is very well-written, but the rather formulaic song structures hold Pitch Black Progress back from being a truly excellent album. Still, that's not to discount all of its remarkably positive traits like the stunning musicianship, professional songwriting, and modern production values. Scar Symmetry are simply a high-quality band, and their striking sense of professionalism and consistency shines throughout all of Pitch Black Progress. This is a pretty impressive melodic death metal album, and fans of the genre should find plenty to enjoy here. I'd say 3.5 stars are warranted.

SCAR SYMMETRY Dark Matter Dimensions

Album · 2009 · Melodic Death Metal
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Diogenes
Everyone knows the story of Scar Symmetry thus far. After releasing three very good melodic death metal albums that took the Gothenburg style to its limits, vocalist extraordinaire Christian Alvestam left the band due to “creative differences” (read: someone somewhere was being a dick and the best decision was to kick him out). The band went out and auditioned for two new vocalists, choosing Roberth Karlsson for harsh vocals and Lars Palmqvist for the cleans, and started recording Dark Matter Dimensions. During this time period, some videos came up on Youtube of the new lineup performing the old material, and fan reception was…not very good. The new vocalists suck, they said. The new album is going to be horrible, they said. Christian is god, they said. Well, Dark Matter Dimensions is not a very good album at all, but for entirely different reasons.

First, to get the obvious matter out of the way, the two new vocalists do not ruin this album. They don’t make it, either; far from it. But they aren’t terrible. Roberth Karlsson is actually a very good growler and replaces Alvestam’s harsh vocals competently. Lars, on the other hand, is decent, but not much more than that. He has a good voice, but doesn’t have nearly the range or emotion that Alvestam does. I could see how this would be a problem for fans that enjoy the bubblegum on Holographic Universe or who have the chorus of The Illusionist stuck in their head frequently (I’m guilty on this one), but Palmqvist’s clean vocals are not even close to being the main reason this album doesn’t reach the height of its predecessors. Get that through your heads now.

The fact that I even had to compare the new vocalists to Alvestam in the last paragraph is the problem. Why? Remember when you were a kid and you had that toy where you put blocks in their respective holes? Do you put the square block into the hole shaped like a triangle? No! It doesn’t work! Throughout Dark Matter Dimensions, Palmqvist keeps trying to emulate Alvestam, and it doesn’t work because of the obvious talent disparity. This goes straight to the songwriting, which is downright garbage here. Scar Symmetry is made up of plenty of talented musicians (guitarists Per Nilsson and Jonas Kjellgren in particular), but on Dark Matter Dimensions, it sounds like they’re on autopilot. There are no interesting riffs and only a couple of memorable choruses (Sculpture Void, for instance), two things that Scar Symmetry had been known for in the past. And of course, the vocals are just there; the band shows no interest in forging a new identity despite a key lineup change. Disappointing, to say the least. Simply, there’s nothing that makes me want to listen to this album over and over again, which is a first for a Scar Symmetry release.

Okay, so the songwriting isn’t so hot, but does the album at least sound good? NO! It sounds awful. I am ashamed that Nuclear Blast would allow Dark Matter Dimensions to be produced like this. The first three Scar Symmetry albums were engineered wonderfully, with every instrument clear and sharp, but here you have to wonder if they even touched the dials at all. The guitars are muddy. The bass is distorted and thus inaudible behind the horrible sounding guitars. The keyboards, while never an essential part of the Scar Symmetry sound, hum and buzz along, and should have just been left out altogether if they were going to be used like this. The cymbals are waaayyy too loud. They sound like the band is hitting frying pans against each other. And the vocals. Oh, man. Not only were they not used properly, but there’s this annoying echo behind them. Roberth sounds like he’s growling into an empty can of tomato sauce. What’s the point of this?

The conclusion that I come to at this point is that Dark Matter Dimensions was released too early. Here’s the deal: this was Scar Symmetry’s fourth album in five years, the one before it being hailed as album of the year by a lot of critics. The band just lost its popular vocalist, whom the sound was centered around. I don’t know if they wanted to keep going right away, or if Nuclear Blast was bitching at them to release a new album, or what, but the logical decision would be to wait a little while and put more work into it. If your band gets a new vocalist (or two), and they have different talents than your old vocalist, wouldn’t you want to work to incorporate them instead of just forcing them to do something they can’t? And if you can’t do that, then get different vocalists! You’re Swedish! It makes too much sense. Dark Matter Dimensions screams “I’M RUSHED!” in every single way.

The two star rating “Fans/collectors only” was invented for this album. It was destiny, I tell you! For Scar Symmetry fans, this album is probably still worth it (just make sure you get the other four first), and for collectors, well, they’re all nuts to a certain degree anyway. For everyone else, don’t bother. Dark Matter Dimensions is a fluke, a dark period in a band whose career has been very bright otherwise.

SCAR SYMMETRY The Unseen Empire

Album · 2011 · Melodic Death Metal
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Diogenes
Disclaimer: This review is going to try super duper hard to not involve Christian Alvestam in any way! Let’s hope I don’t blow it.

Scar Symmetry is a band that is appealing in many ways. Ever since their 2005 debut “Symmetric in Design”, they’ve written addicting melodies, juicy riffs, solos that will blow your brains out, equally addicting vocal lines, and pretty much anything a melodic death metal fan could ask for. However, their 2009 release “Dark Matter Dimensions” showed a band out of its element; people will point at a lot of different things (mainly the introduction of two new vocalists to replace that guy I mentioned above), but for whatever reason, the music was just not good. Don’t get me wrong…it was still Scar Symmetry, and it was okay. But it wasn’t anything more.

Now, here we are with “The Unseen Empire”. If you want the CliffsNotes version of this review, then here you go: this album is an improvement over the last one in virtually every way and will satisfy most longtime fans. I recommend you get it.

If you’re still reading, then you are smart and probably know that those darned “learn everything fast” things are all a scam…so allow me to embellish. There are several things on “Dark Matter Dimensions” that make me not like the album, and I can happily say that these have all been fixed on “The Unseen Empire”, for the most part. First, the production is cleaner and more vocal- and guitar-flattering, making for a better listening experience. I like muddy production, but in Scar Symmetry’s case, it doesn’t really fit what they’re trying to do, and I’m glad they addressed this. The only complaint that I have is that the cymbals might be too loud in the mix, but that’s if I’m feeling nitpicky. So, the production job here is great. Kudos to whoever did it.

When I learned that Scar Symmetry was replacing their former vocalist with two vocalists, I thought it was a smart idea. It would allow more flexibility in live shows and more diverse vocal arrangements. Then I listened to “Dark Matter Dimensions”, as well as some of their first live performances with Lars Palmqvist and Roberth Karlsson, and no longer thought it was a smart idea. It was painfully obvious that Lars did not have the range to perform Scar Symmetry classics, and that Robeth’s higher-pitched snarls were out of place in the new material. However, after a few more listens, I found a new culprit: it was that production again! With that issue resolved, the vocals sound great here, now that they are being mixed properly. Lars has improved a great deal and has found his niche as the new clean vocalist in a band that is famous for clean vocals. No, high notes are not his strength, but he does a much better job here at conveying emotion and following the themes of the songs. You could say that he and Roberth are now “being used properly”.

The better execution of vocals brings me to my final point: the songwriting. This is the big kahuna. The songwriting on “Dark Matter Dimensions” was not good. There wasn’t anything memorable or anything that made me want to listen to it again. Such a letdown was strange coming from the massively talented guitar duo of Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson, but the lads are back on their game here. After having sufficient time to write some good songs, Scar Symmetry has delivered. The melodies are back, hitting hard right away with the first track “The Anomaly”. The songs have catchy choruses again. The keyboards are given a bigger role (although it's purely as a backing instrument-nothing flowery here). There are several great riffs and some killer leads to go with them; it’s no holds barred in this department. Just because a band loses a great vocalist doesn’t mean it should suddenly lose all of its songwriting talent too; rest assured, these songs are pure Scar Symmetry from start to finish. This includes some really cool lyrics to go with the album’s theme of an undercover group of dudes that control the world behind the scenes, and mankind’s war to reveal these punks and break free from their control. Yes, I like it.

With all of these good things coming together, I was slightly disappointed when I first finished listening to “The Unseen Empire”. I was like, “Wait, that’s it?” Yep, this is Scar Symmetry’s shortest album to date at just over 43 minutes. Sure, there are 9 tracks of good melodic death metal, but there are only 9 tracks of good melodic death metal! And there are no bonus tracks either (so all of you pirates can stop looking for any). Now, quality over quantity is the best policy when it comes to music, and I appreciate that the band crammed as much good material as possible into 9 songs, it’s just that I was expecting a little more.

Song recommendations fall into two categories for this one: “Melodic and accessible” and “Technical and evil”. “The Anomaly”, “Domination Agenda”, “The Draconian Arrival”, and to a lesser extent “Astronomicon” are all catchy and show the more melodic side of the band. On the other hand, “Illuminoid Dream Sequence” and “Seers of the Eschaton” both slap the listener in the face with blistering solos and crunching riffs. “Extinction Mantra”, the best song on the album in my humble opinion, combines both areas to make 5 and a half minutes of flat-out ass-kicking. Legit, bro.

To end this review on a good note, I really dig this album. “The Unseen Empire” is a great return to the Scar Symmetry ways of just being good modern metal, which will appeal to fans of many genres, as well as people interested in philosophy. So, good times all around! 4 stars

P.S. NOTE! THIS IS REAAALLLY IMPORTANT! The black and white picture of the eagles and the triangle thingamajig is NOT the real album cover. So, if you’re judging this on its cover, shame on you! Hit up Google Images to get something much more Scar Symmetry-like.

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