Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity)
I really haven't had much invested in Scar Symmetry since 2008's Holographic Universe. When they parted ways with vocalist Christian Älvestam, they hired two vocalists to handle his duties. I didn't think that would bode well, and let's face it, it's really hard for a band to change singers and still be as successful. Yet, it seems they've long since bounced back from that and found a vein of untapped musical gold. I can't speak to the two albums they released prior to this with the dual vocal setup, but I will say that The Singularity shows an amazing balance. You wouldn't know it's two vocalists just by hearing it, especially since there are many who can growl and sing. The advantage of this, however, comes in the form of being able to pull more diverse vocals off live and get a little crazy with arrangements in the studio, and that's just what they've done here.
Science fiction is a theme that is perhaps overused in progressive music and Scar Symmetry is hardly the first band to write about the rise of technology for good or ill and the conflicts it may cause, but the music paints the picture here, the lyrics are merely a guide. Per Nillson is able to create a futuristic soundscape that brings you into this near-future world where rapidly advancing technology begins steamrolliing to a critical mass. There are times when the music is almost ridiculously upbeat with shimmering, sing-song choruses, but are shortly thrown into dark, heavy, and chaotic swings. Don't get too comfortable within a song, they change on a dime and the rules of songwriting are pushed aside to highlight the dualistic concept of the album.
Much of the album follows this pattern, and yet it somehow holds my attention. Many prog albums get lost in their own headspace but this one remains a bit grounded, just enough to give the listener something to hold onto when it gets a little esoteric. Nillson also embraces elements of other genres to add some flavor to the mix. Technocalyptic Cybergeddon starts off, you would think it's a 90's techno song, but then surprise! Metal. It really is a nice change of pace and one that helps push the boundaries of a subgenre of metal that many thought dead until recently.
This proves that no genre is truly dead, despite some bands' inability to evolve within it. Scar Symmetry has been able to evolve quite nicely and show that if you just have enough imagination and the right people in the band, you can create anything. The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity) is, of course, part one of a trilogy. Why wouldn't it be a trilogy? I'm greatly looking forward to the next installment. Meanwhile I'll be reading up on transhumanism and feeling really shitty about the fact that I probably won't live long enough to see the day in person.
Thanks a lot, Ray Kurzweil.
Genre: Metal / Emotional Hardcore
Label: Nuclear Blast
Site: Related Link
Similar: Nevermore, Darkane, Into Eternity, Soilwork
- The Shape of Things to Come
- Limits to Infinity
- Cryonic Harvest
- The Spiral Timeshift
- Children of the Integrated Circuit (instrumental)
- Technocalyptic Cybergeddon