What makes a good metal album? For some, it could be the shredding guitar solos and harmonized riffing. For others, it could be the inhuman growling or even the cleanly sung vocals. Everyone has a different point of view when it comes to what they like, music is all personal preference. Sure, you could go along with what everyone else is listening to, whats popular on MTV or the radio. Metal is one of those genres which really won't ever see the light of day on MTV or the radio, which is a good thing in my opinion, as I've seen countless good bands go down the toilet when they suddenly become famous. With metal, you either like it or you hate it. I find metal to be soothing, relaxing, and just simply a trip away from all the problems with life, because let's face it, isn't that why we listen to music in the first place? Anyway, if you dare enter yourself into the metal world it can lead to the countless sub-genres of metal. Black, Death, Power, Thrash, Progressive, Melodic Death, Metalcore, Grindcore, or whatever else suits your specific tastes. My personal favorite is Melodic Death, with technical, melodic riffing and solos used quite frequently, showcasing the talent of the band's members, but without losing that brutal edge which makes metal what it is known for.
Without a doubt, one of the homes of Metal is the fine country of Sweden. Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Opeth, At The Gates, Soilwork, Arch Enemy, Candlemass, and countless others which have written themselves into the history of metal. Also hailing from Sweden, the little known band "Scar Symmetry" is looking to write itself in with these bands as the best Sweden has to offer. Scar Symmetry is a Melodic Death band, incorporating the signature melodic riffing with the brutal death metal vocals, but they also use a lot of cleanly sung choruses also. Their debut album, 2004's "Symmetric In Design", is a fine piece of work, and I don't think anyone really expected it to be this good. They really hit a home run here, writing some sweet riffs and changing the pace and vocal style enough so that it stands out from the other Melodic Death metal bands out there. The production on this CD is also very, very good, you are able to pick out each instrument pretty clearly throughout the entire album, not washing away the bass too much or having the guitars drown the vocals. The vocals don't have any echo and are very clear.
The album begins with a bang, as "Chaosweaver" shows that they really mean business here. The opening riff is fast, catchy, and just jaw droppingly insane. This is the first track I had ever heard from Scar Symmetry, so I was really impressed that a new band such as this was able to put out a melody like that. The guitars harmonize and create that signature Melodic Death metal sound, before the vocals hit you like a brick wall. Vocalist Christian Alvestam has a crazy death metal growl, deeper than pretty much any other Melodic Death band I had heard, its really, really crushing when you listen to his vocals. But then comes the chorus, and what a whole other story that is. The clean vocals during the chorus are great, and man, this guy can sing, he changes from that deep growl to this nice, soothing voice almost without effort. At this point, the song has been a really fast pace, but the song slows itself down 3/4 of the way through, after the great solo, before breaking into one final chorus backed by that first sweet riff. A great song all in all, one of the best on the CD. "2012- Demise Of the 5th Sun" is another high quality song, despite its odd title. It begins with a grinding riff before some clean vocals start off the first verse, with some electronic effects in the background. The chorus is absolutely punishing, with the double bass going rapid fire and Christian's death vocals pushing you down into the ground. While there are a lot of clean vocals in this song, it makes the death metal growls seem like a slap in the face. This guy really knows how to use both aspects of his voice to make the songs flawlessly performed vocal wise. Another solo follows, with the guitarists showing off more of their talent, this solo is more lengthy and quite melodic and fast, a great solo to get you back into the song. Another great track, makes you think that these guys can't pull this off forever.
But you are wrong. "Dominion" is indeed a change from the last two tracks, this one being more of a ballad, with a depressing attitude to it, which you can see just by listening to the opening riff. While at first it may seem just like another heavy song, you can tell that the death vocals are slowed down a bit during the first verse. The chorus comes in, showing the real sad nature of this song. This track has one of the best, most emotional choruses on the album. Scar Symmetry pull off this death metal ballad without losing a shred of its brutal nature, something which I hadn't heard since Dark Tranquillity's absolutely stunning track "Lethe". Then comes yet another crazy solo, and this album is full of them, so people who enjoy guitar work will really appreciate this album. A good change of pace, adding a sense of emotion to the chaotic brutality. "Underneath The Surface" is sort of a run of the mill song. It starts with a few lines cleanly sung before bursting into the death growls. I will give this song the credit of having a great, upbeat, and catchy chorus which makes this track worth listening to. I bet you can guess what's next..... yes, another well written and blazing solo. A good track despite it's repetitiveness, but worth a listen nonetheless. "Reborn" was another one of the first tracks I had heard from this CD. Its a really fast song, with the growls being very fast and rather incoherent. The chorus is Christian's clean voice, except it has a quality in it, I'm not sure what, which makes the chorus very epic and relaxing, showing off how he can sing extremely well. Two solos on this song, one at 2:15, a bit of a short one, and another one at 2:35, this one more drawn out and technical. Its insane how Scar Symmetry and over and over impress me with a different solo, each one fast and melodic.
"Veil Of Illusions" is a great song. It's one of the more unique songs on here, with Scar Symmetry taking their time as they ease their way into this monster. A single grunt leads into the main riff, being not very melodic but more heavy and brooding. Then, unexpectedly it slows down with the soft vocals of Christian serenading you before that's ripped away by the brutal death growls. This is a headbanging song, with the pace being not too fast but still heavy enough to be angry and noticeable. The chorus is all clean singing, as are most of the songs on here, there is a cool effect on his vocals during the second chorus, with it being overlapped with a screaming voice. The solo in this song is the best on the CD, being long, slower, but still melodic and highly technical, changing the notes constantly, and eventually being backed by the rhythm guitar playing the main riff. A well written and performed song, this is a highlight track of the CD. "Obscure Alliance" is a gung-ho type song. The grunt at the beginning says it all. This is an in-your-face type song, and Scar Symmetry doesn't disappoint. The riffing at the beginning is melodic and keeps a good beat. The chorus is the best part, being heavy and one of the few choruses which is all death metal vocals. Its catchy and will stay in your head for a while, I know I caught myself singing it for a while afterward. This song simply gets you in a good mood, despite its brutal nature. A higher-pitched vocal style is used late in the song, showing that Christian has different variety in his screaming voice. A short song, but you'll enjoy every second of it.
"Hybrid Cult" is quite odd. It begins with a grinding riff which isn't melodic at all, with some strange female-sounding vocals backing Christians amazingly changed voice. He uses a high pitched black-metal style screech on this track, with those strange backing vocals a lot. Its a heavy, heavy song, and at first I didn't like it at all. The clean vocal sections in which Christian sings are great, the lyrics being very ominous and sort of out there. You'll either enjoy this song or not, and I bet for many it'll be a skip over track, but that doesn't mean not to give this song a chance, because the variety in terms of the vocals is astounding. "Orchestrate The Infinite" is another personal favorite. It begins simply, with the death metal vocals over a simple riff, but the chorus is what I like about this song. Not to mention the sweet bridge in the middle of the song, slowing it down and becoming very emotional for the first time really since "Dominion". The instruments slow down, with drumming backing the acoustic guitars, and Christian sings very solemnly, it just mellows you out, showing you that there is a break in this onslaught of brutally heavy songs. "Detach From The Outcome" is another run of the mill song like "Underneath The Surface", with the typical death metal growl/clean singing combination, the riffing isn't very memorable or quite that melodic, a filler track to put it bluntly. I will say this about it though, my god does it have an amazing solo, the fastest one on the whole CD>
"Seeds Of Rebellion" is an upbeat song, like "Obscure Alliance" it gets you really pumped up, and puts a smile on your face, not only because of the revolution themed lyrics but because of the way its performed. The opening riff is sweet, being really melodic and fast. The vocals slide in as brutal as the other songs, the chorus brings back the sweet opening riff, and its simply very catchy and well written and well executed. The solo is one of the better ones before sliding back into the chorus for the last few minutes, its too bad this song is the shortest one, because its really enjoyable. The closing track "The Eleventh Sphere" is out of place here. It's not really a fitting closer but would have fit in better if it was placed elsewhere on this CD. The song is more or less typical Scar Symmetry, with the death metal growls during the verses and great clean singing during the chorus, but I can't put my finger really on why this song doesn't stand out to me. "Seeds Of Rebellion" would have made a more fitting closer to such a fast paced CD.
"Symmetric In Design" is a fine piece of Melodic Death Metal. While it may not break much new ground, the vocals and guitars are of the utmost quality, and Christian has one of my most favorite Metal voices, he really is talented. Some may argue this album is way too repetitive, but most of the songs on here are so good I'm willing to forgive the 2 or 3 more boring tracks. If you like Melodic Death, and you are looking for some new bands to listen to, look no further. Well preformed and well written, this is one of the better debuts I've heard, especially nowadays where it seems no new bands really want to make true metal anymore.
Veil Of Illusions
Seeds Of Rebellion