Friday, June 25, 2010

Scar Symmetry: Pitch Black Progress (2006) Review

Metallattorney listed Swedish melodic death metal band Scar Symmetry as one of his favorite new bands of the last decade. That's good enough for me to check them out, so I picked up their 2006 sophomore album Pitch Black Progress.

First off, the music is good. It's mostly very hard-driving, with some good guitar solos. There are some power metal moments too, which is just fine with me. It's nothing particularly unique, but it's very good.

What sets Scar Symmetry apart from the legion of other melodic death metal bands is the combination of death growls and a clean, power metal vocal style. Other bands in the genre (e.g. Soilwork or In Flames) use clean vocals, but not in the power metal vein of things. It's hard to imagine someone could do both styles, but when their vocalist left (after their third album), they decided to replace him with two guys.

What sets Scar Symmetry apart, though, is also their downfall. The death growls are top notch: It's a very rich, thick sound, and he does it in two distinct pitch ranges. The clean vocals, on the other hand, are bad. He can't do it well: It's obvious he's trying to get a bigger sound than he can achieve, when he tries to be soulful it sounds pathetic, and he is often off pitch.

On the more growl-based songs, like the title track and "Calculating the Apocalypse", everything works, and they sound amazing. But on the clean vocal-based songs, like "Mind Machine" and "Dreaming 24/7", they sound disjointed and awkward. The problem is most obvious on "The Kaleidoscopic God". They manage to overcome the problem at times (see "Carved In Stone"), and sometimes he can almost pull it off ("Deviate from the Form"), but they would have been better off going in a different direction.

The Verdict: They could have been a really great melodic death metal band without anything to distinguish them from the crowd besides their talent, but instead they set themselves apart in a bad way. Everything else about it is great, though, and I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


  1. I like the new layout.

    I guess this is one of those bands we will disagree on. Ah well, can't agree on everything. I like the vocals quite a bit. It's unfortunate that their singer is no longer with the band, but he's in Miseration and Solution .45 so he's still around. The music is definitely quite good.

  2. "I like the new layout."

    Great! I was never happy with the color scheme I had before, but white-on-black is a little too hard on the eyes for reading really long posts, in my opinion. And the sidebar was way too long. I think I like it this way too.

    On Scar Symmetry, as I said, the music is really good. And so are the death growls. And 80% of the clean vocals are fine. That other 20% just hurt it for me, but I still like it well enough.