Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase II: Xenotaph)
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs (58:00)
Release year: 2023
Scar Symmetry, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

A full nine-plus years after Phase I came out and impressed with its conciseness and return to killer songwriting, and melodic death underdogs Scar Symmetry have finally gotten their act together and produced a follow-up. And immediately it packs a powerful punch, heavier than the first album in the series thanks to a horribly muddy production from guitarist Per Nilsson than highlights lead guitar and harsh vocals. Everything else is pushed back into the hazy background, and it's hard to tell whether it damages the audibly quieter clean singing or the drums most of all, the latter of which might as well be a click track for all you can hear of them! This is downright annoying on initial listens and takes a little while to get used to since it can't help but damage the lushness of the frequent lead guitar licks and melodic keyboards, not to mention the frequent clean vocals...

Stick with it, though, and a good album begins to emerge from the fog. The guitarwork is superb throughout, as is the songwriting for the most part which keeps things moving, keeps things heavy, and takes a couple of steps back towards the band's melodic death past rather than progressing with the prog metal direction toyed with on Phase I. Opener Chrononautilus and the following Scorched Quadrant are immediate examples of how the clean-vocalled choruses match in with the melodic death crushing verses to great effect, and it's a formula that the band return to and move away from frequently. Overworld, for instance, indulges in duelling clean and harsh vocals, while Hyberborean Plains (and Chrononautilus) have both overlapping. One of the best examples of the formula is Reichsfall where everything just clicks and the heavy, crushing moments lead smoothly into the clean sections in a way that isn't always there elsewhere on the album, allowing the instrumental wizardry to form the song's outro to particularly grandiose results.

Generally there's decent variety for melodic death although a little more prog here and there would have been welcome for diversity's sake. Altergeist stands out as a highlight, moving towards almost blackened territory with a little more of an Insomnium vibe to its heavier moments with particularly symphonic black-style piano tinkling throughout. There's the suggestion of a compelling mournful vibe on Gridworm, and the closing Xenotaph allows things to breathe a little better by spreading them over nearly eight minutes and adding some flourishes like tech-death influence and choirs. For quite a good chunk of the rest of the album, however, it can be hard to distinguish songs from each other, and it's hard not to think that the band shouldn't have exercised a little more self-control and cut things down a fair bit. Songs, too, generally go on a little too long, with eight over five minutes. Still, as a listening experience Phase II is enjoyable, however repetitive and exhausting, and will please fans who have been waiting for far too long, although even they won't spent long looking at that awful cover art. Phase III had better not take until 2032!

Killing Songs :
Scorched Quadrant, Altergeist, Reichsfall, Xenotaph
Goat quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Scar Symmetry that we have reviewed:
Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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
To see all 7 reviews click here
1 readers voted
Your quote was: 65.
Change your vote

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Dec 05, 2023 12:38 pm
View and Post comments