Scar Symmetry – Still Symmetric In Every Way

Saturday, 30th March 2013

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Being such a fan of melodic death metal, a band that brings something different and unique to the table is always a welcome event. Scar Symmetry is one such band. Their blend of melodic death metal with a progressive twist – along with a dash of power metal – is a sound of its own.

Now on their fifth album, the band’s sound has evolved throughout the years. The biggest change in their makeup – losing vocalist Christian Älvestam – was met with the addition of two singers to match the dynamic range of which had just departed. The first release for the new Scar Symmetry was Dark Matter Dimensions which was a real feeling-out process, as well as being a concerted and positive effort. We now come to The Unseen Empire which brings the band to new heights and displays a cohesiveness of which had been previously in jeopardy.

The following e-mail chat with guitarist Per Nilsson offers an intriguing insight to the band, with subjects such as the band’s adjustment with two vocalists, the inspiration for the new album, upcoming plans, and a ton more. Read on! The reaction seems to be very positive with The Unseen Empire. What are your feelings about how the album has been received?

Per Nilsson: Well, from reading a lot of reviews and talking to fans, it seems like people really, really dig our new album. The dust has settled around the “new” lineup, our vocalists have stepped out of the shadow of our former frontman and proven their worth times and again, and people pick up on that, realizing that Scar Symmetry stands stronger than ever. Some folks even claimThe Unseen Empire to be our best work yet, and though only time will tell, I agree in the sense that I think we did a lot of things right on this album, and the songwriting is some of our best ever. With former vocalist Christian Älvestam being out of the band for about three years, has working with two vocalists instead of one become more comfortable over time? It feels like the chemistry with your singers has certainly improved on this album.

Nilsson: On the personal level, we’ve had great chemistry with Roberth [Karlsson] and Lars [Palmqvist] from day one. They are among the kindest, most easy-going people I’ve ever met. So having them in the band has been an utmost pleasant experience. No diva bullshit whatsoever. A nice thing with Roberth and Lars is that they’ve known each other for many years before joining Scar Symmetry, so they already had their chemistry in place.

Performance-wise, I think the big step up on this album was taken by Lars.Dark Matter Dimensions actually was his first real studio recording ever, let alone his debut album, and he was super nervous when recording it. We knew when we hired Lars for the clean vocals position that he was somewhat of a rough diamond, and during the tours we’ve done in support of Dark Matter Dimensions we’ve seen him grow to be the amazing vocalist and frontman he is today. His performances on The Unseen Empire really speak for themselves. With Roberth, he’s been releasing albums and touring for the last 20 years or so, so he comes from a different place. In what areas do you think the band has progressed the most with this record?

Nilsson: At the time of the release of Holographic Universe our relationship with Christian had plummeted to unbearable depths, so we were faced with the option of either breaking the band up or give him the boot. What happened is history, but the situation was awkward, having to find a new lineup when we just had a new album out. We got the new guys in, toured a little bit, and then we were off to record a new album. In some sense, Dark Matter Dimensionswas like an experiment for us, we knew we had some killer songs, but we didn’t know what the outcome would be. Kind of the same situation as when we did our first album, Symmetric in Design. I can definitely see some parallels between Christian’s improvement as a singer from Symmetric in Symmetric In Design to Pitch Black Progress and Lars’ improvement from the previous album to our new one.

So, the advantage with had this time that we didn’t have when recording Dark Matter Dimensions was that when writing the songs, we had a pretty good picture in our heads of how it was going to sound with Roberth’s and Lars’ vocals on top of them, and that advantage manifested itself as making the songwriting more focused, I think. The concept of the album is a very thought provoking topic. Tell us a little about it and what inspired you to go in this direction?

Nilsson: The Unseen Empire’s lyrics are conspiracy theories to some, and the plain truth to others. The concept deals with theories of shadow governments, ancient bloodlines, we even delve into theories of metaphysical reptilian-based intelligences from other dimensions, controlling our world. Yes, some of the lyrics are pretty out there – this is stuff that a lot of people consider to be the truth, while others enjoy them as pure entertainment. We’ve actually touched upon these topics on several occasions before, go back and listen to some of the older songs, like “Hybrid Cult,” “Pitch Black Progress” and “Mind Machine.” Can you reveal any future touring plans? Many here in the US have been clamoring for a headline run from you guys. Is there any chance of that soon?

Nilsson: For the nearest future, we’re doing a lot the summer festivals in Europe, which is a lot of fun, playing for big crowds and hanging out with other bands. We’re hoping to tour both Europe and North America before this year is over, though nothing’s set in stone. I think we’re approaching the point in our career where we actually might be able to pull off a headline run in the US, so I think either it’s gonna be that, or if we get a really good support slot we would consider that as well.

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