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Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe

Damn if Swedish extreme metal upstarts Scar Symmetry haven't latched onto a winning formula here, their third release Holographic Universe taking up where 2006's Pitch Black Progress left off, as the band delivers another crushing yet melodic mix of death metal, progressive metal, and guitar shred. Kick off track "Morphogenesis" is a heavy & dark piece, singer Christian Alvestam spewing out vile death growls during the majority of the song, yet the melodic clean vocals punctuate the verse and chorus sections perfectly. "Timewave Zero" is a more straightforward track, rich melodic vocals floating over power riffs that recall recent Soilwork, until the Akerfeldt-ish growls and blast beats come raging into play. Nimble guitar harmonies and keyboards add a melodic accent to the otherwise death metal ferocity of "Quantumleaper", a song that also has some Queen styled backing vocals, while the guitar team of Per Nilsson & Jonas Kjellgren inject plenty of riff muscle and virtuoso lead work to "Artificial Sun Projection". As always, the addicting & haunting vocal melodies from Alvestam are impossible to ignore and will stay in your head for hours. If you like sick guitar wankery, look no further than "The Missing Coordinates", a steamroller power/death song with a multitude of vocal styles and some super shred guitar work.

Things don't let up there-after the prog-metal fury of "Ghost Prototype I - Measurement Of Thought" and "Fear Catalyst" comes the catchy technical yet melodic death metal number "Trapezoid", again starring the wild guitar exchanges of Nilsson & Kjellgren. Alvestam's brutal growls bust out of the gate alongside pummeling riffs and jackhammer drum blasts from Henrik Ohlsson on "Prism And Gate", while the 9+ minute title track is a progressive metal epic featuring tons of atmosphereic keyboards during the quiet sections, but also plenty of bombast kicked off by frenetic rhythms and tasty guitar work. Once again, Christian's varied vocal work is perfectly on display here, proof positive that this guy is one of the best singers going today in the melodic death metal genre. Oh yeah, plenty of blazing guitar leads on this one as well, showcasing the different styles of both players perfectly. The CD closes out with the brutal death metal stomp of "The Three-Dimensional Shadow" and the progressive "Ghost Prototype II - Deus Ex Machina".

If Scar Symmetry were not quite stars before Holographic Universe, they certainly will be after this one gets into the hands of the extreme metal masses. Melodic, brutal, and virtuoso, it's all of these and more.

Track Listing
1. Morphogenesis 3:54
2. Timewave Zero 5:13
3. Quantumleaper 4:09
4. Artificial Sun Projection 4:00
5. The Missing Coordinates 4:37
6. Ghost Prototype I - Measurement Of Thought 4:35
7. Fear Catalyst 5:03
8. Trapezoid 4:17
9. Prism And Gate 3:46
10. Holographic Universe 9:05
11. The Three-Dimensional Shadow 3:57
12. Ghost Prototype II - Deus Ex Machina 6:03

Added: August 19th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4839
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-08-19 14:49:24
My Score:

We sometimes find that by the time a band gets to their third album that they are now just sitting back a little after knowing how they impressed with the debut and then continued their magic to beat the "sophomore curse" as they proved that they could still impress you with little difficulty. Truth be told, the third album is probably the most important as it is a release that will either show you that the group is in this for the long haul or it could be one that proves you no longer have what it takes. Based on this premise it is with great pleasure that I report that Scar Symmetry will once again knock your socks off with their latest and third release on Nuclear Blast Records - "Holographic Universe". The band seemed to come out of nowhere with "Symmetric In Design" (2005), an album that I missed entirely when it first came out, but when they offered up "Pitch Black Progress" (2006), I found them to be one of the most exciting groups that I had heard in a long time. Perhaps it is because they are Swedish in origin and they come from a land that seems to be overflowing with Melodic Death Metal acts of note, but perhaps it is something different entirely. The one thing that I do know is that lead singer Christian Alvestam gives you more than your moneys worth with his ability to sing perfectly in both Melodic and Death vocals and almost duels with himself vocally and this trait makes Scar Symmetry's music all the more interesting. As a release, "Holographic Universe" is the perfect next step in the bands progression from their second album which many had lauded as a recording to purchase if one was seeking the best in the genre.

The release finds the band delivering 12 molten tracks that all seem to have a space-age or science fiction premise to them but even after reading along with the lyrics I was unable to determine whether or not this was a concept album of some kind. It's ok if it isn't as those things are often hard to wrap one's head around but the clear point that you get from the moment its opener "Morphogenesis" begins is that this band has returned to kick some ass as opposed to resting on their laurels. There is a lot going on as the album progresses and while I will jump to "Quantumleaper", I had to say that the guitar work was absolutely insane on this one. The press copy lined out that one player acted as Michael Schenker while the other Yngwie Malmsteen and to be honest they hit the nail right on the head. The pair of axe slinging musicians duels constantly across the release and has defiantly upped the ante on technical ability for the guitarist when it comes to this form of Metal. Kudos to Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson for making this really exciting in terms of the guitar solos. If you are a shred fan then this will satisfy your hunger. I also felt that drummer Henrik Ohlsson was on point for the album. He has not disappointed me yet, but with "Holographic Universe" seems to have come more into his own as a killer player for the genre. I had trouble finding a solitary track to call my favorite since I enjoyed the whole release but when the title track came on I felt a lot of Meshuggah influence being demonstrated in the way of the time signatures and groove. To me it's a great thing when a band as important as they are is offered homage in an up and coming superpower. Lyrics and photos are presented in the booklet and you will find this to be a well-written work. Add this one to your shopping list with the highest of recommendations.

» Reader Comments:

Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe
Posted by Justin Case on 2008-07-16 13:07:25
My Score:

This is a very modern approach to progressive, melodic death metal. The band really brings their instrumentation to another level on this conceptual release. Death metal purists may be critical, but this lends a certain relevance to the "mellow" death style. Another "good" band in this category, but with a more Death/Control Denied approach is Quo Vadis and their incredible Defiant Imagination release. If you have not ever heard it, you are really missing out because Steve D. lays down some fantastic bass on it, as well.

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