Scar Symmetry – The Singularity: Phase 1 – Neohumanity (Nuclear Blast)Sunday, 28th September 2014
With Scar Symmetry’s last album, The Unseen Empire, the band took on a concept album for the first time. So what’s the best way to follow it up? Well, a three-part concept album of course! The Singularity: Phase 1 – Neohumanity is the first of three albums based upon artificial intelligence and transhumanism, and tackles the idea that there are those that are for the new tech and those that are against the new tech and those implications in this first installment. Heady concept in tow, this is no doubt the most ambitious project the band has undertaken, as well as their first album without long-time guitarist Jonas Kjellgren.
The first thing that stands out, as one listens to The Singularity is how progressive the band sounds. They’ve always had a pretty progressive take on melodeath (which grew further after Christian Alvestam left), but there are some pretty proggy moments to be found here. The concept album base makes sure that is doesn’t get too carried away and there is some great storytelling, but it doesn’t take long to get into “Neohuman” to see these subtle changes (see “The Spiral Timeshift” or the ten minute closer “Technocalyptic Cybergeddon” as well). The dual vocalist approach the band has employed is also at the strongest it’s been to date. Palmqvist’s cleans really pop in each of the choruses (its hard to pick a favorite) and Karlsson’s bark hits harder than many bands that dabble in melodic death metal. Scar Symmetry’s ability to go from bludgeoning, heavy passages like those found in “Neuromancers” to the soaring melodies of “Cryonic Harvest” without sounding like two completely different bands is nothing short of impressive, despite the fact that this has been the band’s bread and butter for years.
Scar Symmetry has set the bar pretty high for the remaining two albums to round out this trilogy. A progressive feast of melodic death metal strengthened by an intriguing concept, The Singularity should wet the appetite of long-time fans. With the number of high profile line-up changes the band has endured over the years, it’s great to see that Scar Symmetry can put the creative juices into high gear on their sixth album (and hopefully seventh and eighth albums). Bring on the sequels!