The Resistance – Scars (Armoury Records)Monday, 20th May 2013
You’d think more dynamics would come from something with Jesper Stromblad’s name on it. The former In Flames guitarist, responsible for the band’s most priceless songs, has narrowed his focus with The Resistance, churning out an album with Scars that virtually resembles everything that is going on with d-beat/retro death metal. We are reminded that Stromblad’s now-defunct Dimension Zero project also had a similar focus, but at least that was able to pull from the guitarist’s vast melodic repertoire. Save for a few moments, Scars is practically devoid of it.
The two other key players here are former The Haunted vocalist Marco Aro, and ex-In Flames guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom, who was Stromblad’s partner during those glorious The Jester Race and Whoracle years. However, their interplay is muted, with the two usually laying down the same bulldozing guitar track, done in total classic Swedish death metal fashion. This accounts for a handful of powerful moments (see: the beginning of “Expand to Expire,” and Swede thrashed-out portions of “The Serpent King”), but it also leaves the album out to dry.
Aro’s bark is still feisty, able to give the songs some gusto, so he’s not a lost cause here. But c’mon, The Resistance has what is easily one of the widest harmonic and melodic pallets available and they’ve opted for the plain-Jane route. That’s what Scars is – totally plain, vastly underwhelming, and hardly indicative of what the parties involved can really do.