SCAR SYMMETRY surprised with the quality of their ‘revamped’ line up (featuring two new vocalists to cover both singing and guttural vocal duties) on their fourth album. Very quickly, these Modern Death and Power Metal Mongols turned the tide and have released their anticipated fifth album, “The Unseen Empire."
For fans of this unique band, “The Unseen Empire” is going to have plenty to enjoy. The band’s patented mix of Death Metal heaviness and Power Metal melodies are back for another course in combined flattery. Songs like the opener “The Anomaly” showcase the bands use of Pop-like synths, MAIDEN-esque lead guitars, and sing-a-long choruses. Some of their longer and more Modern tracks like “Seers Of Eschaton” heavily pull on their Death Metal roots to influence the stop-and-go riffing, guttural roars, and double bass drum blasts to counter act their melodic spats. “The Unseen Empire” is most definitely SCAR SYMMETRY and the sound is not lost on the record.
Similar to the band’s “Holographic Universe," this fifth release does have quite a few spins to enjoy though. Their style isn’t quite as apparent and easy to digest as with the last record or on some previous releases. The lines between their melodic winds of fancy, industrial-like synths, and Death Metal rhythm-work are far more blurred making it an album that one has to take time and tease apart rather than just jumping right in.
This more blended sound does make the album a bit muddier in its presentation too, much to its disadvantage. Having the two vocalists allowed the band to do much more in the line of vocal layering and hitting gray areas, but on “The Unseen Empire” it leaves it feeling a bit too organic in its writing, losing some of the Modern touches that made the band such a force. The entire record has this sound and despite some great tracks, leaves the album shadowed by some of their better works.
SCAR SYMMETRY is still easily one of the most interesting acts out there. “The Unseen Empire” is a solid effort to add to their impressive catalog, but does lack some of the tightened sound that one comes to expect on the fifth release. A bit too muddy in its writing and sound to rank it up there for their expectations.
Songs to check out: “The Anomaly," “Domination Agenda," “Illuminoid Dream Sequence."
(Online September 27, 2011)