Well, Scar Symmetry has done it again. After being hooked on their two previous albums “Symmetric in Design” and “Pitch Black Progress” for the past few years, I didn’t think Scar Symmetry would be able to create a third straight 5 star effort – but I was wrong. In all honesty, this was an album that took me a few listens to really get into, but once I did, there was no shaking the songs from my mind.
Any current Scar Symmetry fan already knows what to expect. Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson return with their twin attack of heavy, catchy riffs as well as the technicality of their searing solos. Oh yes, that’s right. It wouldn’t be a traditional SS album if the songs weren’t littered with solos…and I mean that in the best way possible! Also back are Henrik Ohlsson – brilliant lyricist and phenomenal drummer, Kenneth Seil – bassist, and of course, Christian Alvestam – the inhuman vocalist. While I don’t believe Jonas and Per bring a whole lot new to the table (as they’re doing as great as always!), the other three are certainly pushing themselves to new levels with “Holographic Universe.” Lyrics-wise, Henrik revolves all the songs around a combination of astrological/quantum physics and middle eastern philosophy. It sounds weird in theory, but it makes for some great lyrics. It’s certainly an interesting topic, and for anyone who wishes to learn more, I highly recommend watching the “Holographic Universe trailer part II” on youtube or myspace for further explanation. Anywho, previous fans will also notice that the bass has more prominent parts in quite a few songs, which is always a plus for me.
But the true difference between “Symmetric in Design”, “Pitch Black Progress” and “Holographic Universe” is the vocal styling of Christian. “SiD” had more growling vocals as opposed to clean singing, whereas “PBP” was a relatively even blend. With “Holographic Universe”, however, the vocals have shifted to be mostly clean and almost operatic at times. I find that a little disappointing, but Christian has a hell of a voice and in the end, it’s still fantastic.
As far as the songs themselves go, it’s hard to pick a clear cut favorite or a single weak track. All have their strong points for sure. Specifically, I find that “Morphogenesis”, “Prism and Gate”, and “The Three-Dimensional Shadow” are the best, simply because I favor heavy, growling verses and catchy, clean choruses. There’s nothing new about that, but listen to the song samples above and tell me that I’m wrong. Then there’s the album epic, the title track “Holographic Universe” which is not only 9 minutes long, but also features some awesome finger-tap solos. Finally, the last track that really stands out is the closer, “Ghost Prototype II (Deus Ex Machina)”. The beginning and ending of the song features the lightest singing Christian has done to date. It’s the one track that took me the longest to get used to, but it’s worth the time to let it grow on you. Of course, I love all the songs, but I’ve highlighted the ones that I feel are the freshest or coolest.
So in the end, what’s left to say about “Holographic Universe”? Will it be the top metal album of 2008? To me, quite possibly, but there’s still plenty of time left to make that call. In relation to the first two albums, where does it fall? Personally, I favor “SiD” and “PBP” over “Holographic Universe”, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from buying this album. It’s new enough for old fans to not feel like they’re getting repeats, yet it doesn’t stray too far from what makes Scar Symmetry, well…Scar Symmetry. And for the newbies out there: if you enjoy this album, buy the first two without hesitation. They’re just as phenomenal.
Here’s to Scar Symmetry…rock on! m/ ^_^ m/
It was announced today that vocalist Christian has parted ways with Scar Symmetry. I am personally very disappointed, but in todays day and age, things like this are common occurrence. He will continue other musical endeavors, though.
Scar Symmetry is NOT broken up, however, and a replacement will be announced soon. Whoever steps in will have some mighty big shoes to fill. I once again heavily urge all newcomers to buy “Holographic Universe” as well as “Pitch Black Progress” and “Symmetric in Design” not only because they are phenomenal records, but also simply because you will own a piece of metal history. There are very few vocalists like Christian, and these will probably be the only records you can hear his magnificence on for some time.
Today Scar Symmetry announced the new vocalist for the band, and surprise…they got two vocalists! Roberth Karlsson (main growls, back up clean) and Lars Palmqvist (main clean, back up growls) will be taking up the place where Christian once was. There’s an audition video on youtube I recommend fans watch with both newbies singing that is very encouraging! I first thought that no one could replace Christian, and any attempt at it would be worthless, but this is not the case! While I’ve already begun reading people say that having two people to fill in for Christian is pathetic it does have a benefit. A lot of the songs from “Holographic Universe” have vocal work that can’t be done live, but now they can! Naysayers, please check out the video before passing judgment. I’m now eagerly awaiting both a world tour and a new album from these guys!