If you’ve read any of my prior reviews, you know by now that I am a junkie for Swedish Death Metal. It must be something in the water, but, whatever it is, this place is responsible for some of the most talented and influential bands of the past 20 years: OPETH, AT THE GATES, DARK TRANQUILLITY, IN FLAMES, I could keep going… I have followed all of these groups for years, continuing to have my mind blown with every new release. One group that I regrettably fell off with was SCAR SYMMETRY. I was floored by their first two records, yet, for some odd reason, I just never picked up their third effort. And when I heard they had parted ways with their singer, and replaced him with two vocalists, I wrote them off.
This was one of those scenarios where I would like to go back in time and kick my younger self in the ‘nads, because after listening to The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity), out October 14 via Nuclear Blast Records, I realized what I had been missing out on. Perfectly blending ferocity and melody, this disc shows that the group didn’t lose their stride after replacing front men. Further, the band, who is no stranger to conceptualized songs, have stepped up their game by expanding their concept over multiple records. Neohumanity is the first in a story that will unfold over the next three records. The story tells of the struggle between those who embrace a radical new form of artificial intelligence and those who do not, with the former accepting the ideals of transhumanism, opting to become one with the machines.
The disc opens with a clean melody sung to introduce listeners to the story, aptly titled “The Shape of Things to Come”. This leads into “Neohuman”, a song that seamlessly displays the balanced shades of light and dark for which the group has become known. I was especially taken by the clean vocals, offering a chorus so captivating I would dare one to not sing along. In contrast, I found myself gravitating more towards the growled vocals on “Limits to Infinity”. “Cryonic Harvest” keeps things solid until its outro, in which a spoken word piece is delivered by a low voice that just feels as though it’s trying too hard to sound creepy. It may have worked better had this been done by a more organic-sounding voice, like in “Parallax” by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME. The instrumental “Children of the Integrated Circuit” contains a very choice lead, presenting its own verse to the story line of the concept.
Throughout, including the remaining tracks “The Spiral Timeshift”, “Neuromancers” and “Technocalyptic Cybergeddon”, the group delivers a harmoniously potent fusion of hard-hitting riffs, death growls and epic, riveting ear candy. Hearing this, I am once again drawn back to SCAR SYMMETRY. I look to the future phases of this concept, and I find myself compelled to go into their back catalog to visit the three records I previously ignored. Point being, The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) should make its way into your collection.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Neohuman”, “Children of the Integrated Circuit”, “The Spiral Timeshift”, “Neuromancers”, “Technocalyptic Cybergeddon”
WRITTEN BY FRENCH CHEESE