Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 6/24/2008
Scar Symmetry has always seemed to have a slightly split fan base between those who like them for their melody and progression, and people who enjoy their more aggressive, death metal-oriented side. Obviously, the entire package appeals to many of their fans as well, and for the most part the contrast between heavy and light has worked well for the band. On Holographic Universe, this gathering of Swedish all-stars has taken an increasingly laid back path in comparison to past works, and the results might polarize their following even more than before.
When taken with no preconceived notions, Holographic Universe is an immediately decent album, but gets off to a rather slow start with the first couple tracks, methodically picking up momentum as things move forward from a songwriting standpoint. I believe “Trapezoid” and “Prism And Gate” are the strongest tracks to be heard, especially the extremely well-balanced, unyielding arrangement of the latter song with a nod to Meshuggah’s off-timed choppy riff patterns. The bouncy, quirky nature of the first segment of the title track makes me understand how some of their fans think their new album has a pop flair to it, but I also don’t wholly agree with that view either. Much of the material is very easy on the ears, and multitalented vocalist Christian Alvestam has become very comfortable with the cleaner aspects of his singing abilities, and at times it seems his death metal vocals are completely unnecessary on certain tunes such as “Timewave Zero”. The situation reverses on “The Three Dimensional Shadow”, where it’s the cleans that sound odd when placed next to a ferocious harsh counterpart, and likewise the cleaner tones go as close to over-the-top during the intro and middle of “Ghost Prototype II (Deus Ex Machina) as you can get before launching into more happy, yet growled death metal.
Despite the ‘lightness’ of the melodies on display here, I doubt any of this was aimed towards current mass-appeal radio play. If anything, there’s more of a 70’s arena rock vibe than anything presently being plastered across the airwaves, and that’s really not an offensively bad thing at all. The guitar work really stands out as usual, as Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson continue to excel at stellar leads and tight rhythm playing, but this time around the riffs aren’t quite as compelling as previous releases. Simplicity seems to be the focus here, and there really aren’t a whole lot of moments that jump out as being very unique or terribly interesting, yet all of it is good. There’s a definite maturity to be heard, because there is an overlying ‘grown up’ feel to most of this album, and nothing reaches the point of merely going through the motions with vapid, or completely nondescript song craft, but none of it blows me away. I think that’s really the best way for me to sum it up, it’s a good album that doesn't grab me, and I can see how both their detractors as well as their fanboys have valid points as to why they feel the way they do about Scar Symmetry.
Holographic Universe is not the timeless melodic death metal classic some folks are foaming at the mouth about, but it is definitely worth seeking if the band can do no wrong in your view. Pitch Black Progress, and Symmetric In Design are both a bit more outgoing than their latest, but Scar Symmetry have a lot to be proud of by creating an album that fits pretty uniformly into their discography, although next time around it would be cool to hear them put a little more fire back into their music. This is a very respectable, and continually divisive output, making it difficult not to wonder what they’ll come up with next.
Dark Matter Dimensions
10/20/2009 Scar Symmetry
Pitch Black Progress
5/2/2006 Scar Symmetry
Symmetric In Design