Scar Symmetry

Symmetric in Design

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Seasoned pros that they were when they got together, Scar Symmetry's career took all of a year's time from their inception to first album Symmetric in Design's 2005 release by no less than major metal players Nuclear Blast -- quite an endorsement of their talents. These might be described as reminiscent of Canadians Into Eternity, minus the strident vocals and with a greater emphasis on the death than the power metal elements of their sound, as the Swedes keep their songs brutal but clean, hyperactive but under control, elaborate but to the point. In short, fraught with contradictions, exactly as their name suggests. Frontman Christian Älvestam deserves much credit for these merits, with his estimable ability to deliver both clean tones and fearsome growls in equally powerful measures (most bands working in this milieu requiring two separate vocalists to pull off such a feat) -- but it's guitarists Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson who really rule the roost here, their tag-team approach to rhythmic crunch and heroic solos dictating the tempo throughout, while simultaneously making way for some serious synthesizer action. Resulting highlights like "Dominion," "Reborn," and "Hybrid Cult" therefore balance a typically metallic sense of commercial intractability with surprisingly hook-laden choruses. And though there's no denying their obvious similarity to compatriots Soilwork and, to a lesser degree, Finland's Children of Bodom, Scar Symmetry's own evident songwriting abilities and very impressive musicianship should not be overlooked. Perhaps the album's only real downfall is overstaying its welcome just a tad toward the end of its generous 12 tracks, but that's a good problem to have, and, overall, Symmetric in Design represents a standout first effort.

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