Scar Symmetry : The Unseen Empire

Scar Symmetry drummer Henrik Ohlsson says :- ”The Unseen Empire” seeks to expose the hidden hand of the elite that pull the strings of mankind in order to fullfill their agenda of global domination. The album concept goes from theories of shadow governments to secret ancient bloodlines and even further into speculations of malevolent influence from metaphysical reptilian-based intelligences. Mankind`s only hope to survive seems to be an internal awakening where the influence of the the unseen empire that rules in secrecy is washed away from the minds of the masses. They want us to stay within the framework of their agenda, hypnotizing us with things that draw attention but has no value. It`s time to step outside the framework and make „The Unseen Empire“ visible!“

We Say :- The Unseen Empire is the Swedish “Melodic Death Metal” band Scar Symmetry’s 5th album, following on from 2009’s Dark Matter Dimensions.

The band’s sound is much more “Melodic” than “Death Metal” though, with some impressive layered guitar sounds, cracking harmonies and substantially more keyboard in the mix than you may expect. Where it is Death Metal, it’s without the brutal edge and with an extra helping of progressive influences that make it much more listenable than many of the other bands lumped under that rather nondescript label.

The album opens with The Anomaly, the start of which is more A Day To Remember than Immolation. Here you get your first impression of how well Roberth Karlsson’s death growl combines with Lars Palmqvist’s clean vocals and for my tastes the band have got the balance just about spot on, although it’s not going to please the bearded death metal purists.

The keyboards come much more to the fore for the second track, Illuminoid Dream Sequence as the band display their progressive leanings over a proper old fashioned headbanging beat. This is something that will appeal to fans of  prog metal, sort of wandering towards Symphony X territory with some killer riffs, excellent clean vocals and an impressive guitar performance from Per Nilsson and Jonas Kjellgren.

So, two tracks in and things are sounding good..

The band get all anthemic next for Extinction Mantra, although here the death growl does seem slightly incongruous along side the massive sing-along chorus that many a power metal band would sell their keytars for. This really is a huge stadium-rocking tune, and it’s not the only one on here.

My favourite track on the album is Domination Agenda which is mostly sung clean, but where the growls are used sparingly and to very good effect.

Anyone who approaches this album from a Death Metal perspective is going to feel slightly short changed, as Scar Symmetry have a much wider appeal than their genre label implies. There are some downright sexy guitar harmonies here (check out Alpha And Omega) and some grand sounding keyboardey bits thrown into the mix too. It’s also a huge bonus that both the vocalists handle their respective duties with some panache and for the most part the balance between the two is well struck. The band also score extra points for steering clear of the usual dumb themes too, with the intelligent Henrik Ohlsson penned lyrics exploring the concept of an “elite” controlling our lives.

In a year which has already seen some really good stuff Scar Symmetry have produced an album of genuine quality with a massive cross-genre appeal and one which I’m sure metal fans of all persuasions will like.