SCAR SYMMETRY – Holographic Universe

SCAR SYMMETRY - Holographic Universe
  • 9/10
    SCAR SYMMETRY - Holographic Universe - 9/10


Nuclear Blast
Release date: June 20, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Act three for Scar Symmetry, and the second one on Nuclear Blast Records. This is one of the most anticipated albums for many Metal fans this year, because the Gothenburg Five delivered some of the best Melodic Death Metal with their previous albums Symmetric In Design and Pitch Black Progress ever. So far the top two stayed the same, In Flames and Soilwork, but Scar Symmetry was a close third (okay, together with Into Eternity), and several of their songs did more than whisper their claim to be heir apparent to the Melodic Death throne.

And never were the times more suited for a hostile takeover of the crown. Soilwork’s latest output could not match the mighty Stabbing The Drama and tried the balance between still being heavy and increasingly melodic at the same time. The last In Flames album was a definite step back from former glory and also tried not to become too mellow by including a couple of alibi songs that hindered the record to shine. So, both were good, but beatable.

With Into Eternity coming in a few months, Scar Symmetry have the chance to take the lead. As if they had known this, the album shows a bit of a change to its predecessor. The overall sound is still the same, the two guitarists Jonas and Per show no sign of fatigue and fire solid leads, great dual guitar parts and excellent solos rapidly, while the rhythm section is versatile and virtuosic. The main difference is in songwriting and the use of Christian Älvestam‘s vocals.

The first striking difference to their second album is that even after several spins there is no single Übersong audible. Was “The Illusionist” the unbeatable opening track of Pitch Black Progress, “Morphogenesis” is of similar calibre, but does not stand out among the other 11 compositions. Every single track is a winner, with extremely melodic keyboards, a lot of clean vocals, much more than before, and mostly mid tempo arrangements. It is like the band has incorporated many influences from outside their normal sound into this album, starting with Pop for the vocal lines in almost every song, Seventies Soft Rock for the keys like exhibited in the title track, but tried to retain their identity with occasional grunts, most striking in “Quantumleaper”, with some uptempo parts and double bass attacks like in “The Missing Coordinates”.

In comparison to the first two albums Scar Symmetry went a similar way as the bands mentioned above did after a few releases: mellower, increasingly melodic, more accessible. This recipe will surely proof to be successful, and the sales figures of Holographic Universe should outgrow their earlier releases easily. For their old fans, this is likely to be a bit of a disappointment as the Death Metal elements have been pushed far into the background, only to emerge occasionally and be silenced by another chorus brinking on Melodic Rock rather than Death or Thrash.

It is not an unexpected path the band has taken. The success of the “Illusionist”-single cried for a continuation of that style (and several people at the label’s office probably literally did), so the band is not to blame and will gather a whole new fan base. But as surely as that there will be voices complaining about the commercial approach screaming “sell out”, but that is a common phenomenon. Unfortunately, no one can live from being underground, and as a musician maturity often goes hand in hand with being less extreme.

Holographic Universe contains 12 brilliant songs whose only flaw is that they are all at the same level of excellence. Together with the tendency to perform most parts of any song in mid tempo, the tracks tend to blend into another. That is what keeps the album from the high score, and also the fact that the diversity of Pitch Black Progress made for a slightly more interesting album overall, which has been lost along the way to this release.

To return to the throne room, Scar Symmetry try to desperately pull down In Flames and Soilwork climbing up their legs, while the two are barely holding on to their respective side of the chair. After the strong Scattering The Ashes it would come as no surprise, would Into Eternity jump over them with their upcoming album to take the seat at the top soon… In the meantime, Scar Symmetry sees eye to eye with any other Melodic (Death) Metal band, so get it.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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