without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
The Gothenburg sound has been big for a couple of years now, and to their credit, Scar Symmetry have been one of the recent passengers on that wagon that have made a sort of impression. Using the 'heading for the bigtime' pop-metal formula of two-tone vocals (growled verses/clean harmonised choruses, for those not in the know), they've put out two albums which, while far from being essential, were a fun distraction and decent showcase for some impressive fretwork.
'Yeah sure, they're Svedes. They're supposed to be tight, what else is new?' Ah, hang on, this isn't just a matter of being tight – the guitarists, Per Nilsson in particular, have an extraordinary talent for leads. Far from being a flurry of sweeps and alternate picked madness, some of their solo spots are packed with snaking lines, crazy usage of string skipping and you end up feeling that the notes are coming at you from all over the place. The effect is a bit dampened thanks to an almost keyboard-like tone, but even so, it's hard to ignore the skill.
When you factor the guitar wizardry out, things don't look all that rosy. Christian Älvestam's got a decent voice and that makes for some catchy singalong choruses, but those tend to lose their sheen after a few spins if the song's not strong enough to house it. And unfortunately, third time hasn't been a charm in the songwriting department. While the earlier albums had some tight numbers bordering fillersville, this one doesn't really get that far off the ground. Morphogenesis is probably their tv single, the title track has some cool stuff happening here and there, and the second Ghost Prototype song has this nice pop vibe going for it. There's a few changes to the sound, but nothing to suggest that these guys may be covering new and exciting ground in the future. Even the leads don't seem as impressive as they were before. Some come off a bit hurried and messy, though there are still some sublime runs that could knock you onto your ass. Knowing life's penchant for irony, it's probable that these guys are going to be more popular after this album than the last one.
If you're a big fan of their previous efforts, this one's not going to rub you the wrong way. It's tolerable enough when it's spinning, but doesn't scream to be played when you're going through your options. I think that they just might have painted themselves into a corner with no way to go but down unless they reinvent themselves. However guitarist Jonas Kjellgren's other band, World Below, is a fantastic underrated doom outfit that comes highly recommended.