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Scar Symmetry: The Unseen Empire

Not long after waking up, I checked my inbox to check out any notifications that may have come in as I was passed out and sleeping my day off from work away. My eyes shot open when I noticed one of the albums waiting in the Nuclear Blast iPool for me, the upcoming Scar Symmetry album, The Unseen Empire. As a fan of the band’s earlier CDs with Christian, I instantly became rather worried. While the previous album Dark Matter Dimensions wasn’t as bad as I had hoped, though I did have my problems, I couldn’t help but feel like I was walking into a bit of a bear trap. So, I quickly downloaded the file, and since I had a long day ahead of me, slapped that digital promo on a blank CD-R, threw in my car stereo, looked at my fiancee, and braced myself.

At first, The Unseen Empire didn’t really seem all that bad, but some of the things I wound up kind of liking on “The Anomaly” quickly wore thin. The music was well done Melodic Death Metal that clearly had some energy, but just didn’t sound like as strong a performance as on the band’s first two, three releases. It didn’t even feel as energetic as Dark Matter Dimensions. This became a quick blow to the release, especially when it became apparent that the group was shying away from the more science fiction sounds of all the previous releases. The clean vocals sounded a little better as well, but there were many issues. After “Anomaly”, I had hoped they would change up, but they didn’t. Sure, this time they were on key, but you can tell that the vocals had gone through digital pitch correction software at times, and almost all the clean vocals up to “Seers of the Eschaton”, which is where I couldn’t take anymore, had been very low, monotone, and nasal. When there was extra effort put in it sounded good, but it was very rare, and again just sounded motone, even robotic.

I could have let most of that slide as a fan of the group and appreciated it for the music, but even the music was bad! The group hasn’t really lost anything, but they gravitated more toward a generic sound then their own unique approach. It was like listening to a toned down Natural Born Chaos by Soilwork. Honestly, the only thing about the album I really got behind through these songs were the gutteral, which were really good as usual, being very deep and well suited to the music. This isn’t to say that the music on The Unseen Empire is wretched, it’s just not Scar Symmetry, and isn’t all that unique.

As a fan of the band, I see plenty of positive aspects to this album, as well as plenty of negative aspects. Hopefully in a critical view, it won’t be as bad as my first impression of this album has me thinking. I still look forward to hearing the whole thing and, hopefully, find some hidden gems on the album, but when a CD goes from my car stereo to the back seat in 0.395 seconds or less, it’s not something to be too hopeful about. Keep an eye on this site for my full review of this CD.

Article based on digital review material provided by Nuclear Blast Records