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Scar Symmetry - "The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity)" (CD)

Scar Symmetry - "The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity)" CD cover image

"The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity)" track listing:

1. The Shape of Things to Come
2. Neohuman
3. Limits to Infinity
4. Cryonic Harvest
5. The Spiral Timeshift
6. Children of the Integrated Circuit
7. Neuromancers
8. Technocalyptic Cybergeddon

Reviewed by on October 13, 2014

"It’s...this imbalance of tremendous melody, towering harmonies, and deadly brutality that make 'The Singularity' so rich, diverse, powerful, and appealing."

I’m not sure many people can fully immerse themselves into bands that appeal to such a variety of styles. Sadly, the enjoyment of the “one-stop-shop” band seems limited to the flashes that appeal to personal preferences, when the merging of once taboo elements is truly a celebration of all music, and a challenging intellectual feat that cannot be ignored. The cyborg creation that is Sweden’s Scar Symmetry stands at the precipice of releasing one of the true masterpieces of “modern metal” – one that has the ability to appeal to fans across the board from Yes to Amon Amarth. Backed by infinite talent and an interesting concept story (a dark glimpse in to the future where mankind creates “artificial brains” called “artilects”), “The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity)” simply cannot be overlooked.

Whether you are a long time Scar Symmetry fan or a newcomer, this is a band that unites all with a broad brush that covers many styles with such brilliant craftsmanship. In the world of Scar Symmetry, there are the fans that cannot get over the departure of Christian Alvestam (Solution .45), when the band decided to split his clean/growl vocals into two distinct vocalists: the smooth clean style of Lars Palmqvist and the harsh guttural utterings of Roberth Karlsson. Hence, the lukewarm receptions to the band’s 2009 release “Dark Matter Dimensions.” Since then, the band has gradually brought back those dispersed with “The Unseen Empire” in 2011.

With “The Singularity,” the band seems fully energized, creating a more linear style filled with ultra-melodic harmonies juxtaposed to the deeply guttural. The songs aren’t mired in a muck of progressive hyper changes, but ride along those outstanding harmonies, with Karlsson brandished more as a weapon unsheathed at seemingly unexpected moments. Take the first 1:05 of “Neohuman” – in which the listener is lured in by the soothing keyboards and formidable riffs of Per Nilsson drawn together by Palmqvist’s smooth delivery…then bang! Karlsson disrupts the track with a vicious barrage. The song erupts into a soaring chorus, never losing the established heaviness. What a start!

“Limits to Infinity” is a trailblazer, with a quick riff surrounded by keyboards reminiscent to what Geoff Downes would produce. The chorus harmony rises from the abyss – flashing shades of progressive rock, with Karlsson’s dark growls the perfect mismatch. It’s just this imbalance of tremendous melody, towering harmonies, and deadly brutality that make “The Singularity” so rich, diverse, powerful, and appealing. Among the best on the release are “The Spiral Timeshift” – a lethal and precise microcosm of the entire album - and "Technocalyptic Cybergeddon," the closing opus and pinnacle of Scar Symmetry’s career. The running favorite is the death metal laden “Neuromancers,” which is cloaked in dramatic and alluring harmonies. The musicianship at work here is nothing short of stunning and the overall production, largely in part by guitarist/keyboardist Per Nilsson, is crystal clear and perfect.

In the world of “modern metal” it takes more than chaotic time changes and metalcore style screeches. For the formula to truly shine, it takes intoxicating harmonies, provocative storytelling, and most of all appealing songwriting. Scar Symmetry has taken its own history and remolded it better with a nod to all those elements to make the most memorable and astonishing masterpiece I have heard in the band's 10 year history. With the first in the trilogy concept series a smashing success that should grab the attention of a large swath of open minded fans, the band has its work cut out to make “The Singularity, Phase II” live up to this monument.

Highs: A monument in modern metal history.

Lows: Those who prefer their metal less diverse and more confined to styles will find this too much.

Bottom line: Phase I of the new Scar Symmetry complete....masterpiece achieved.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)