Swedish Melo-Death hidden gems Scar Symmetry have finally released the long-awaited album; The Singularity Phase II: Xenotaph. This is a record that has been teased for years and its arrival is a cause for celebration and hope for a glorious future for the band.
Without the liner notes or lyrics of both albums, it’s difficult to follow, but progressive music has never been particularly accessible in the first place. There are some accessible moments like the soaring choruses on tracks like ‘Chrononautilus’ that make use of the dual vocal attack from Roberth Karlsson and Lars Palmqvist.
This is the first album to feature Benjamin Ellis, formerly of the hideously underrated British Melodeath act Bloodshot Dawn, and he adds a great deal of personality and contrasts with Per Nillson’s virtuosic and sometimes intentionally mechanical guitar work.
The lead work is absolutely stellar and the dual guitar harmonies on tracks like ‘Digiphrenia Dawn’ and ‘Reichsfall’, the latter of which could be one of the best tracks on the album with its beautiful sweeping synths and power metal hooks. Xenotaph shows Scar Symmetry at the height of their abilities and willingness to elucidate on an already phenomenal sound that they’ve been honing for decades.
Contrasting the beautiful soundscapes, Xenotaph has a wealth of crushing death metal barnstormers like the piano/blast beat-driven ‘Altergeist’, and the slower-paced grinding of ‘Gridworm’. There’s a good balance of everything and it all shifts and changes enough to be interesting but never enough to be frustrating or alienating.
Xenotaph has some grandiose progressive moments that have crushing weight to them including the dramatic conclusion. The record runs the gamut of human emotion as it shifts and undulates into the album’s colossal final moments. Even without lyric sheets or liner notes, this track feels like a massive conclusion based on uncertainty and futility in trying to understand a sprawling universe. Without lyrics, it’s hard to tell if that interpretation is correct but that’s the feeling I get.
Xenotaph was absolutely worth the agonising wait as Scar Symmetry have crafted a project they are very passionate about and it translates really well to the listener. It’s a must-listen for fans of power metal, melodic death metal, virtuosic musicianship and just heavy metal in general.
The Singularity Phase II: Xenotaph is available June 9th via Nuclear Blast.