When Scar Symmetry parted ways with fan favorite vocalist Christian Älvestam after their Holographic Universe release in 2008, some were excited of the thought he would focus on existing projects and some soaked ample amounts of Kleenex on a strong band losing it's arguably strongest member. Since guitarist Nilsson is still present in the established act, and the frontman chose to throw yet another band into the fray, I'd suggest neither view would suffice. Enter Solution.45; simply another band in the fray or a new home for mourning progressive death fans?
Truth be told, on first listen it seems Älvestam's ever popular vocal style feels somewhat drained of its past flamboyance. Sugar-coated, poppy cleans have spiraled down from being somewhat of a paragon to being aggravatingly generic at times. And that's the problem isn't it; we've all heard these melodies before through the countless side projects Älvestam has had over the years and while they undeniably manage to revisit their past grandiosity at times ("Lethean Tears", ironically the only song written by the good man himself), they are more often than not a painful attempt at reanimating it, rendering them fair to middling at best ("Into Shadow"). Famous for his ferocious growls, a few quirky instances of semi-shouts and the rare attempt at what seems to be bree-ing taint his track record of sounding like he beats bears in bare-knuckle fist fights. All jesting aside it boils down to Älvestam's performance being as competent as it is unexceptional.
While Älvestam's iconic reputation will draw in many potential listeners, his instrumental companions fail to provide an incentive to keep spinning For Aeons Past. Stefanovic and Gardiner hardly seem able to come up with riffs that stick and while their prominent soloing is technically proficient, the phrasing simply misses the gusto that is entirely necessary to making their particular approach work ("Bladed Vaults"). Sure, the six-string assault (often remarkably reminiscent of Evergrey, see the otherwise strong title track) will keep your head bobbing, but the more than occasionally stale riffing-style results in songs becoming hard to distinguish from one another, moreover relying on vocal charm to keep things moving forwards. The rhythm section is no different. While a few tasteful fills and passages will make you smirk, the otherwise unremarkable drums suffer from the lack of restraint on the use of double bass by Pilve (both aspects are epitomized by "Wirethrone"). Edlund's bass guitar is simply buried too low in the mix to be noticeable. We don't seem to be missing much though, because piercing ears perceive him following the bass drum and guitars to a tee.
When it all comes together, this style of songwriting works well enough for the group to create a handful of gems, most notably the spectacularly ambitious sixteen minute "Clandestinity Now" that showcases everything the band does right. The darker side is that when push comes to shove, it's a progressive melodic death sound that sits comfortably well amongst its peers but never challenges them. That's just it; For Aeons Past is solid enough to warrant a couple of enjoyable listens, but it's just too painfully run-of-the-mill to ever be thought of as a momentous release.
Oh noes, another good band sputnik doesn't approve of. Quite the surprise.
Anyway, although the album is indeed nothing truly special or anything, it is, for me at least, a lot of fun to listen to. Although the whole clean/growl approach has been beaten to death by now, only a few do it right. And I really enjoy Älvestam's vocals here, even though the songwriting itself could've been better.
Also kodus to Mikael Stanne for doing some guest vocals on both Bladed Vaults & On Embered Fields Adust.
ok... nothing new... Alvestam's got a great sound and talent... his vocals are amazing and he is a good songwriter (and guitarist when he applies himself). he carries this whole album (save for Clandestinity track where everyone else finally stepped up)... the rest of band really didn't bring their A-game (at least for a bunch of metal scene "vets").
I really think he needs to slowdown w/ his projects... as the reviewer mentioned... I'm starting to feel oversaturated w/ him... his stuff is starting to sound the same... and really generic. Plus I think he's kinda just settling into a groove of like a melodeath music factory... just putting stuff out for the masses & $ ... I know it sounds bad but I can't shake that feeling and I hate getting that from someone like him.
That's the thing in being in a lot of bands... to much... of the same (abit a "good" same) but nothing really impactful or amazing as a whole. i think he just needs to focus on one of these bands for a while and really develop something special (like he used too).
Great review. My opinion of this album differs though. I throughouly enjoyed this album from day one, and I'm still jamming it in my playlist everyday. The comparisons to Scar Symmetry were a bit off though, as Solution .45 has alot more progressive elements and it doesn't follow the formula SS did (death verse, clean chorus). This album is a very good listen for me, not only for the vocals but all the instruments. The guitars are played very well, and the bass guitar lays are very good foundation for the rhythm sections. The drumming could've been better, but it fits the songs quite well, considering they aren't trying to outplay At The Gates speed-wise. The bonus track, Spirit Side Dreaming is a superb track, and I suggest you give it a listen. Also, Miseration's new album is brilliant! They've moved on, and while not everybody accepted the change in style - I did. Both For Aeons Past and The Mirroring Shadow are great releases and I'm looking forward to the next. On another note, Dark Matter Dimensions is Scar Symmetry's best work yet, musically. Vocally it's good, but not great. Especially considering the fact that the clean vocalist sounds too much like the guy from Sonic Syndicate. That was annoying. Christian and Jani make a great team, and I personally give them all my support with future albums.
One last thing.. This is just their debut, so take the album with a pinch of salt, be a little open-minded, and you'll enjoy the album more.
Checkout Woe of Tyrants - Kingdom of Might!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the keyboardist is actually really good too. Pity they didn't use him more. Stanne's guest appearance was pretty awesome too. It gave Bladed Vaults more atmosphere. Cool!
S'good that there are so many divided opinions and thoughts, makes the release more interesting. I disagree that this effort is more progressive than past SS releases though. Hardly any profound keyboard work (although SS's keyboards are cheesy as hobbittoes to start with) and it's instrumentally a lot easier to digest. Should've mentioned Stanne's lyrical contributions as well as his guest vocals. I don't find the lyrics particularly strong though, taking in mind what he creates with his own band.
Dude, personally, I LOVE Holographic Universe.. I do, trust me. But at times it felt too mainstream and the melodies seemed overused - even though they sound amazing. On Dark Matter Dimensions, listen to tracks like Noumenon and Phenomenon, Nonhuman Era, and A Parenthesis In Eternity. LISTEN to how well those songs are played compared to previous Scar Symmetry release. But enough about SS. My opinion over Solution .45 nor Miseration will never change. Seems like you guys prefer mainstream more..
Had high expectations for this album, but overall it's a little dissapointing. Wirethrone might be one of the best songs christian has ever sung, but the rest is just to mediocre to be remarkable. We've all heard this, but then better.
Btw, i really did love the new Misseration, it's going back to the death roots, which i really enjoy!