Released: 2008, Nuclear Blast
How could a band like Scar Symmetry follow up on such a critically praised and well-received album as PITCH BLACK PROGRESS? The answer is simple - - by topping it in every way imaginable. In an oversaturated genre, like melodic death metal, PITCH BLACK PROGRESS was clearly one of the genre’s true standout moments. However, HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE is an album that defies genre, making it one of the most well-composed metal albums in a good long time.
The first thing that you will notice is that all of the rough edges have been chiseled away, and they have been replaced by a more polished finished product. While some purists may balk at such a sheen, the end result is a much more mature and creative offering. Front man, Christian Älvestam, seems to have taken some vocal master classes because his voice has gotten smoother in the clean parts, deeper in the growling parts, and even more diverse, this time delving into some falsetto backing harmonies to spruce up some tracks. As things get going, it will quickly be noticed that the rest of the gang has picked up their game, too, composing music that ventures into the progressive metal territory of a marquis band like Dream Theater, especially the sharp lead guitar work. The simplest thing to point to for the album’s success is also probably its best feature - - the catchy vocal melodies. A song like “Timewave Zero” will brand itself upon you on your first listen, and you will want to go back to it repeatedly. For those who might fear that the heaviness will be watered down, check out a track like “Quantumleaper” whose spacey keyboards break into punchy, growled verses, before offering yet another landmark chorus. The progression in their overall sound can be truly appreciated in songs like “The Missing Coordinates” and “Ghost Prototype II (Deus Ex Machine)” where the tempos go all over the place, highlighting off beat moments where extremely heavy riffing is complimented by gentle breakdowns, where emotions are given a free range, and where the band goes from subtle exhibition to all out shredding.
HOLGRAPHIC UNIVERSE displays Scar Symmetry as a band ready to climb to the forefront of metal music. While transcending genre, they have put forth an album that has elements that should appeal to a wide range of listeners. If you like your metal crisply-produced, powerful, adventurous, and catchy as hell, look no further. We’re halfway through 2008, and, finally, after sifting through a tiresome pile of average releases, we have a candidate for album of the year.