I’ve thought about this before and this time I have to speak my mind. There’s something in the blood of Swedish people, some kind of creative cell mass making everything run smoother. The thought has been triggered more than once, if there’s a scene that’s full bodied and devoted to hard work, it’s the one located in Sweden, listen to SCAR SYMMETRY and ask the members of the band if they have enough bands running. Every dude in this band has like three main bands, I’m not counting small fun projects here and SCAR SYMMETRY is another branch in the tree that never seems to stop growing. The guys might have formed some months back and yet it’s as if they made a wish, waved their magic wands and had their desires realised, they sound like any big player dwelling in the poppier regions on Melodic Death Metal, so yes, there has to be something unique flowing in the veins of these people, don’t even bother telling me otherwise!
Mixed superbly by lead and rhythm guitarist Jonas Kjellgren (otherwise known for his shouting in CARNAL FORGE) at his Black Lounge Studio, this debut platter titled “Symmetric In Design” has already been compared to SOILWORK’s past and present (and future?) sound. I don’t think any of the guys would smash your face for feeling this way, they’d probably buy you a beer in celebration of your witty observation.
I can see some truth to the aforementioned apprenticeship, some of the tracks are embarrassingly close to their peers from Helsingfors, especially solos, lead melodies, riffs, everything guitarwise is clad in Wichers persona and then there’s yesterday’s winning formula of prominent keyboard fingering and emotional clean vocals mixed with the brutal growls and harsh screaming paving the way for more listeners than just the loyal fan of second wave Death and Thrash Metal. There’s no question about it, the good ol’ blueprint of how to make a good Modern Melodic Extreme Metal record has been put to use, the main difference lies in the pace, I feel that S.S. are more energised showing the same rebellious spirit the Soilworkers had invoked on “The Chainheart Machine” and “A Predator’s Portrait”.
Newbies will praise the album up to the high heavens, whereas I, a self proclaimed semi expert on the genre, will stay on middle ground. If you look past the fact that they’re not doing anything new here and take comfort in the terminal drive, brilliant musicianship and catchy song writing, you’ll still get a good album. Believe me your soul will head bang wholeheartedly to infectious killers like “Reborn”, “Chaosweaver”, “2012 – The Demise Of The 5th Sun” (shredding double bass drumming), “Dominion”, “Detach From The Outcome” (features some awesome growling and masturbating solo work) and “Veil Of Illusion” while your mind commands you to raise your trusty air guitar when the chunky riffs tear through the speakers.
Not trying to emulate the high quality and seemingly effortless melodic singing of Christian Älvestam is where the real test’s at, the harmonies this guy can manifest are some of the catchiest the genre will ever see in this decade thus revealing the band’s true ace. Vocally Älvestam is versatile (sometimes covered with simple effects) and very talented. There’s a good balance in his approach, he combines the best of both worlds belching out visceral screams and demonised growls, then suddenly turns into Prince Charming when using his clear voice and he uses those a lot, not just in the formulaic choruses.
Does this have the potential of stomping the shit out of you know who? Well, we’ll just have to wait for “The Stabbing Drama” and see then who will stand tall won’t we? No, seriously, the success is limited at this point, they’ve got some bright moments but with the rush of getting this album out, a few too many average songs (what’s a mutant hard rocking ballad like “Obscure Alliance” doing on this album?) didn’t stick out and managed to damage the overall quality and S.S. is just one of many free time studio projects at the moment, who says they’re even gonna do another one?
I found myself rocking to one half of the album while the other clearly represented a rushed song writing session, but so far so good I guess, it’s causing ripples in the waters. (Online March 28, 2005)