The Singularity (Phase II: Xenotaph)
Review by Michael on June 11, 2023.
I remember exactly how the second album Pitch Black Progress of the melo-deathers from Sweden impressed me back then. For me, that album was an absolute milestone in the genre and the band has unfortunately never again reached the same level with the successors. The two following works Holographic Universe and Dark Matter Dimensions still found their way into my record collection, but after that Scar Symmetry disappeared from my radar. However, recently a press release fluttered into my email distribution list, in which I was informed that the band will release a new album called The Singularity (Phase II - Xenotaph) and that made my ears prick up again. This sounds like a cool science fiction story, with fitting music it could be interesting. But now enough of the prehistory, what offers the meanwhile seventh album of the Scandinavians to the listener?
The quintet goes very brute right from the beginning with some uncompromising work. The opener 'Chrononautilus' made me cringe because the band does not wait long to torch us and starts with a short, but brutal death metal inferno. Of course, the guys still have their clean vocals built into the total of 11 songs, but the whole thing seems much more coherent and tidy than in recent years. The song structures are often very surprising, as they present the band in an incredible joy of playing and an incredible wealth of ideas, which I would not have trusted Scar Symmetry have in them anymore. At times the compositions drift very much into the progressive side and it made me think of Dan Swanö very often while listening because his band "Witherscape" is stylistically very similar. However, the melodies never become cheesy or too much, they fit together nicely and the interplay between clean and death metal vocals meshes perfectly into the song structures. Sometimes, like in the transition between 'Overworld' and 'Altergeist', the band seems a bit too hectic, which diminishes the listening pleasure a bit, but these are really only small things that I notice after the umpteenth listen. In addition, lyrically there is also a very dark, dystopian storyline going on, which does not always fit the good mood melodies being played, but not everything has to always spread a positive mood right?.
However, there is one or maybe even two songs that still add a notch in quality. The previously mentioned track 'Overworld' is a good example of this, because of really fantastic melodies paired with awesome hooklines and mega catchiness are presented. This is perhaps the best song the band has composed since 'The Illusionist'. 'Gridworm' is a driving song that doesn't give the listener any time at all to take a breath and pause, and shows how talented the band is through its surprising breaks. Shit, this is a hammer! But as I said, each song on its own is already a gem to be appreciated.
On The Singularity (Phase II - Xenotaph) there is, in my humble opinion, no song that represents a drop in quality, but what is presented here is melodeath in absolute perfection. I hope that Scar Symmetry will continue on this level and stay with us in this condition for a long time. The album is definitely convincing and for me the best melo-death album since well... ages ago.
Rating: 9.6 out of 10521