Scar Symmetry - Holographic Universe
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death Metal
12 songs (58:35)
Release year: 2008
Scar Symmetry, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Although the scene’s rather saturated with identikit Melodeath bands at the moment, the fact remains that many are still worth listening to. There’s the obvious leaders like Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Soilwork and so on, each having their own approach to the genre and each (yes, EACH) deserving a place in the collection of any Metalhead worth their salt. Other bands out there like Amoral, Canopy, Hypocrisy and Be’lakor are producing their individual takes on things, and now that Metalcore seems to be mutating into the next Metal fad, we’re spared most of the Heartwork-apeing that we’ve had to endure in the last few years. It’s official – Melodeath is back in favour!

I first heard of Scar Symmetry when reviewing 2007’s Nuclear Blast All-Stars project, vocalist Christian Älvestam providing guest vocals on a track. His deep growls and melodic singing were impressive, and yet I let slip the chance to check his main band out. That’s the one downside with writing for a ‘zine like Metal Reviews – you’re presented with such a range of new and interesting music as a result that it’s simply impossible to listen to everything you uncover. Still, the Metal Gods must be watching over me, as I now have the privilege of reviewing Scar Symmetry’s new album!

So, album number three from the Swedish five-piece is not a huge departure from the previous two. A slick but not overly Poppy mixture of growled and sung vocals, backed by a more than competent set of musicians – overall, a collection of songs that are enjoyable from the first listen, but have enough of a Progressive leaning to stay interesting in further listens. As you’d expect, the production is clear, with guitars slightly louder than vocals, and bass clearly audible. What’s obvious is that Christian has a great voice, capable of wonderful clean vocals and a deep and gritty Death Metal growl, and he has plenty of opportunities to shine. In fact, his voice gives this a wide appeal – Power Metalheads will dig this as much as regular Deathsters.

It’s very hard to find fault with this. Even the keyboards - the downfall of many an otherwise flawless band - are expert, ranging between classical and electronica in application, and with the occasional solo being as much a part of the music as the guitars. The band strike a good balance between light and heavy moments, with tracks like Timewave Zero being catchy as a result of good songwriting more than anything else.

Those clean-chorus hooks are massive, and will have you singing along before you know what’s hit you. Practically every song has a couple of great solos, making it difficult to distinguish between them at first, but after a few listens little touches like the falsetto backing vocals in Quantumleaper and the extended soloing in Ghost Prototype I (Measurement Of Thought) make all the difference. This is once of those albums that you can put on and play the tracks in any order, as they are all great but don’t really add up to an overall single album so much as a collection of songs. Every time I listened to this I heard something new, a song opening up and revealing its secrets, and it never once dragged or felt like the band were ripping riffs off from another source as spoilt Arch Enemy’s last album. There’s even a nine-minute track that feels like it’s half its length, not being more epic or progressive than the other tracks (apart from a great Strapping Young Lad intro), but simply packing enough killer riffs and solos in to make you forget the time.

Perhaps it’s the simple fact that I don’t listen to vast amounts of Melodic Death Metal that makes Holographic Universe seem so good, but few other bands from the genre have held my attention and proved as enjoyable as Scar Symmetry have. You won’t find the next stage in Metal’s evolution here, or even a band that delights in taking risks – but you’re guaranteed a good time.

Killing Songs :
All, esp. Timewave Zero, Quantumleaper, Artificial Sun Projection, The Missing Coordinates, Trapezoid, Holographic Universe
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Scar Symmetry that we have reviewed:
Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Scar Symmetry - The Unseen Empire reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Dark Matter Dimensions reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Pitch Black Progress reviewed by Kayla and quoted 85 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Symmetric In Design reviewed by Crims and quoted 84 / 100
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