Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity)
Nuclear Blast
Progressive Metal, Melodeath
8 songs (43:22)
Release year: 2014
Scar Symmetry, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Well, well. Like most people, I'd given up on the idea of Scar Symmetry producing something up there in quality with the Älvestam albums again, as enjoyable as The Unseen Empire was. And the announcement that the band were going to release a concept trilogy was hardly enough to raise hopes. Yet Neohumanity, the first part of the Singularity trilogy, although not revolutionary is more than enough to keep fans of older Scar Symmetry smiling. And the slight change in focus doesn't hurt at all, a proggy and futuristic-sounding album that indulges itself in two songs over eight minutes long as well as things like instrumentals and narrated lyrics. True, these aren't always effective, but the songs themselves tend to be either solid or excellent, and it's great to hear a talented band experimenting and trying new things; by far the majority of Neohumanity is proof that Scar Symmetry are taking the Unseen Empire sound forward in a very enjoyable way indeed.

That album was, in retrospect, already pushing the band's sound onwards, but it's interesting to hear the results. The melodeath elements are, if anything, toned down, with clean vocals dominating. Opener The Shape of Things To Come functions not just as an intro but as a near-Ayreon-esque story setter, less than a minute long but establishing the sci-fi setting and preparing you for the oncoming onslaught of eight-minuter Neohuman. It's the longest Scar Symmetry track since Holographic Universe, opening with pummelling melodic death riffing but soon introducing the multi-layered clean singing and pushing those bleepy-futuristic-sounding keyboards more than ever. It's a prog metal story-telling track, very much like something you'd get if Ayreon were a melodeath band, driven by melody. Just as it starts to drag, Limits to Infinity comes in, the best song Scar Symmetry have written in a while, those duelling clean and harsh vocals put to great use and effortlessly catchy melodies erupting almost organically everywhere you look.

The weakest moments present are those around the 'concept album' gimmick, which go some way towards undoing the band's good work. Although Cryonic Harvest is a perfectly decent melodic track, the silly spoken section towards the end does rather spoil things and could easily have been left out. Instrumental Children of the Integrated Circuit is also pretty forgettable. Fortunately, The Spiral Timeshift and Neuromancers repair relations considerably, and by the time that daftly-named finale Technocalyptic Cybergeddon arrives in all its ten-minute glory, it's hard not to think that this is one of the band's best albums. With an almost poppy melodic intro that soon turns into epic, almost Strapping Young Lad-esque metallic carnage, the track proves that the band can stretch their songs out without losing their power.

No, this isn't perfect, or particularly original. But it's proof that Scar Symmetry are comfortable with a challenge, and proof that the ghost of their departed vocalist can finally be laid to rest for good - it's fair to say that this blows whatever six or so bands that Älvestam is currently singing for out of the water completely. Fans will be delighted; if the next albums in the series (surely due fairly soon?) are as good as this then Scar Symmetry are once again a name to be reckoned with.

Killing Songs :
Limits to Infinity, The Spiral Timeshift, Neuromancers, Technocalyptic Cybergeddon
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Scar Symmetry that we have reviewed:
Scar Symmetry - The Unseen Empire reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Dark Matter Dimensions reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Holographic Universe reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Pitch Black Progress reviewed by Kayla and quoted 85 / 100
Scar Symmetry - Symmetric In Design reviewed by Crims and quoted 84 / 100
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