Review Summary: Scar Symmetry has released their blandest hits album
Sometimes a band’s steadfast refusal to grow or change their sound is good for their career. It worked for Dark Tranquility because the bands around them had ditched the genre and so them staying the same was their way of saying that they would follow in the footsteps of In Flames or Soilwork, but, as evident with their latest release, even a band who has perfected the formula can become stale if not tinkered around with a little bit. Now Scar Symmetry has been sliding on their formula for quite some time. Their first three albums were well-received not because of their originality, but rather because of their quality songwriting and the skills of vocalist Christian Alvestam. However, Scar Symmetry kicked Christian out of the band in 2008, replaced him with two vocalists, and continued moving along the exact same path. The result was the not-so-well received Dark Matter Dimensions
, which had a lot to live up to, but instead of really focusing themselves and taking time to prove that they would be fine without Christian they rushed out a product that doomed itself. That brings us to now, in which Scar Symmetry has reached a crossroads with their fans: are they going to continue trying to sell them the same album over and over again, or will they actually break-out and prove the doubters wrong? The very obvious answer is the former, as Scar Symmetry was far from the most original band in the most recycled genre in metal (obviously other than metalcore.)
The Unseen Empire
is a boring, stereotypical album name which fits perfectly with the boring, stereotypical sound of the album. There is literally nothing you can bring up about this album that hasn’t been done before and heaps better. The guitar lines, the vocal progression, none of it. Scar Symmetry had already stretched their sound to its limits two albums ago and everyone could feel it. Listening to Holographic Universe
that feeling creeped up of “this is good, but I can’t deal with another album of this exact same sound,” and yet here we are, two albums later, and nothing has changed. No more than thirty seconds go by at any point in any song before you swear to yourself that you have heard this before on a previous album. The vocals are the most unlistenable part of the album, because they have two vocalists, and both of them have the most boring, repetitive vocals on the planet. The growler sounds like every monotonous low growler to enter the metal genre, and the singer seems to sing the same chorus in every song. The only thing new (to them) that they have brought to the table is a couple half-assed djenting riffs that absolutely do not work in any form. It was nice to hear simply for the fact that it was something different, however thousands of unknown bands every day are cropping up trying to make themselves popular by ripping off Meshuggah riffs, so it is still nothing that you can’t hear off a ton of other albums.
Probably the most infuriating part of The Unseen Empire
is the fact that Scar Symmetry has the potential to be relevant and even a leader of the genre, all the skills are there. It just seems that the band is more interested in sitting in their comfort zone, which is seen far too often in the Melodic Death Metal genre. Looking at Scar Symmetry you can’t help but notice that they are a microcosm of everything that has caused melo-death to completely stagnate. I have respect for bands that take three years to release an album so that they can try new things, even if they fail, because at least I know that they are pushing themselves. What I cannot respect is a band that rests on their laurels and releases the same album every year and a half (really?) so that way they can fool their fans time and again into thinking that they release something new and different just for some more money.