Scar Symmetry – Dark Matter Dimensions
Rating: 4.5/5.0 – Excellent, but formulaic
Label: Nuclear Blast (EU | USA)
Website(s): scarsymmetry.com | myspace.com/scarsymmetry
Release Date(s): EU: 02.10.2009 | USA: 10.20.2009
I remember the first time I heard Scar Symmetry very clearly. I was checking out some stuff on MySpace when I saw that they were going to be playing the House of Metal festival and I was blown away. Not blown away with how good they are, though talented one cannot deny they are, but how sickly sweet their melodic stuff is. I sat their and listened to it with my mouth agape thinking “really? Does this pass for death metal these days? How are these guys not a Top 40 band?” The answer to that is actually quite obvious: instead of dropping the death metal vocals, these guys have blended death metal vocals in with what I think is probably the most pop sensible writing I’ve ever heard in a metal band.
I was unimpressed at the time, but upon receiving Dark Matter Dimensions my opinion has changed quite a bit. This could be for a couple of reasons, though. Shortly after Holographic Universe was released, the band kicked out its old vocalist (Christian Alvstam) due to personal conflicts and touring conflicts. In essence, however, they had wasted an entire touring cycle and, reading between the lines, it didn’t sound like the prettiest of internal conflicts. The decision to go with two vocalists seems to have been the right one, as the vocal approach on Dark Matter Dimensions is fantastic. The growls are low and brutal and the clean vocals go between good, high clean vocals and sounding like Ville Laihiala (Sentenced, Poisonblack).
Musically Dark Matter Dimensions is fairly formulaic, while not being too formulaic to enjoy (see: Threat Signal and Killswitch Engage). The tracks are heavy, fast and fairly technical sometimes, but launch into huge, catchy choruses with clean, beautiful vocals over them. It’s not often that metal bands write poppy choruses like Scar Symmetry though. These guys have a special talent for melody. On the second time through this record I had already started singing along with the choruses as though I’d heard them a hundred times before, and its that catchiness and familiarity that make the band so accessible.
On the other hand, technical music geeks will still get a kick out of some of the tracks on this record. ”Mechanical Soul Cybernetics,” for example, is a technical circus, showing off the highly skilled guitar work and writing talent and even bordering on tech death. This band is a beast musically, and that comes through more on this record than it did on Holographic Universe. The band’s growing edge was a question of whether or not they could produce metal that felt edgy and heavy, despite being poppy and having sweet hooks. Dark Matter Dimensions definitely shows that Scar Symmetry was up to that challenge.
This Angry Metal Guy has been getting into technical, amelodic stuff a lot lately because of the fact that melodic death metal seems to be really hashed through and done. Scar Symmetry shows that this isn’t the case. Melodic death metal can be done well and originally: it just takes a novel approach and extreme skill to piece it together. Scar Symmetry has both and they have outdone themselves with Dark Matter Dimensions.