Reviews

SCAR SYMMETRY - The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity)

thesingularity

Concept albums always feel so hit or miss to me. Sometimes the story just doesn’t seem properly conveyed, or even all that interesting enough. Other times it feels like the music takes a bit of a backseat in favor for the story. So, when it was announced that Scar Symmetry is going to work on a 3-album concept trilogy based around a techno-apocalyptic sci-fi story, I was a little interested but still a little wary of what was to come. But even when embarking on an ambitious project, it’s pretty clear with the first installment that Scar Symmetry knows what they’re doing.

This trilogy is titled The Singularity, and each release is going to represent a new phase; the first of which being Neohumanity. The story of The Singularity revolves around the future, in a time where humanity has created “artilects”, or “artificial intellects” with capabilities that supersede any human capability in intellect. Artificial brains become a booming industry. But there will be those who embrace it, and those who oppose it, especially when different artilects can be added to human bodies, paving the way for the cyborg and human divide. It’s a pretty interesting sci-fi concept to dedicate a trilogy of albums around, and I feel it’s even deep enough to be able to devote 3 whole albums towards.

Being that Neohumanity, and the next two proceeding albums are heavy on the story, there needs to be a proper musical channel to move the story along. Progressive metal is a tried and true outlet for story-driven metal, and that is definitely the predominant style in Neohumanity. It’s mixed in with their style of melodic death metal, and at times even a little power metal flavors strewn about. “Limits To Infinity” begins quite bombastically with powerful drums and full guitars, and breakdowns pretty seamlessly to a much less aggressive and driving sound. This was also the first track I heard that gave me some of those power metal flavors that really got me interested in wanting to hear a lot more. However, you still have a good amount of heavy coming from Neohumanity. The closing track, “Technocalptic Cybergeddon”, is probably the most death metal the album ever gets. But it’s very clear that the distinctive melodic death metal moments are meant not to take predominance over those powerful and atmospheric melodic moments.

And to be honest, at first it was kind of difficult not to ride the album off upon first listen. I mean, when I think of Scar Symmetry, I’m thinking of a great balance between the melodic and the death. I wasn’t really into the more power metalish moments and was just going to call this album simply ok. But upon listening to it a lot more, Neohumanity just kept growing on me. The choruses got stuck in my head for hours on end, the atmosphere kept pulling me into their created apocalyptic future, and the blend of styles in their music eventually won me over completely. “Cryonic Harvest”, for example, begins on a very ethereal note with slow building drums under atmospheric guitars until everyone comes in full, and suddenly we’re brought back to the death metal sensibilities. And in the same song, we get the catchiest chorus on the whole album for me, definite progressive elements in the guitar solo, and vivid storytelling all in one package. “Cryonic Harvest” is almost the perfect amalgam of Scar Symmetry’s synthesis of these different styles of metal, and maybe even the strongest overall track on Neohumanity.

If Phase 1 – Neohumanity is the sign of things to come from Scar Symmetry and The Singularity trilogy, then we should be on the edges of our seats with anticipation. Melodic death metal fans should view this as a must, and anyone else who enjoys their metal a little on the progressive side. I am definitely looking forward to covering the future installments of The Singularity, and the bar has already been set quite high.

Posted by on October 29, 2014

 

 


   

NECROPHAGIA - WhiteWorm Cathedral

It’s fitting that with the constantly expanding universe of metal bands putting out records, a new Necrophagia album would land in late October of 2014. Having been one of the early gore-soaked bands in the genre, Necrophagia broke up in the late 80’s, but reformed ten years later to begin the steady stream of albums they’ve put out since then. On their latest record, the band goes for a straightforward and simplified blend of house of horror antics mixed with Entombed and Scream Bloody Gore-era Death. If I could give a name to their style (at least on this album), it would probably be: Pizza and Popcorn Death Metal – as it reminds me of those days when you go to your buddy’s house, order a pizza and click on a few horror movies. This is even further reflected through the crayon colors present on the album cover.

But they’re more than just simple kitsch, otherwise they wouldn’t merit an album review. Though their not the most intricate of groups stylistically, that doesn’t stop them from piling on some solid riffs and pounding drum beats. The dark, yet clever tongue-in-cheek, atmosphere permeates the entire album, from the satanic chanting on “Reborn through Black Mass” to The Exorcist sound-bite on “Fear the Priest” (it’s from the part where Father Karas first visits the possessed Regan McNeil and splashes her with holy water as she screams “IT BURNS!!!”…though Karas reveals to her mother later that it’s just tap water…clever indeed). Indeed, these sort of horror-tropes are old and well-worn characteristics of metal, but Necrophagia is well-placed to use them to their advantage. This gives the listener an extra layer of subject-matter to chew on, rather than yet another band singing about words that end in -ion (destruction, determination, extermination, desolation…enough already!!!).

As Killjoy says in an interview last year:

Whiteworm Cathedral is the most straightforward Necrophagia release of our entire career. We have always taken chances and experimented in the past…Whiteworm Cathedral contains none of these elements. It's thirteen songs that are very heavy, horror filled and direct…The songs are sick and heavy but they are also catchy at times. There are alot of witchcraft and necromancy themes. It's a very personal subject matter that I have wanted to bring into Necrophagia for a long time.”

Simple, sick and heavy are three perfect words to describe the album. And it’s good to have death metal coming out in 2014 that isn’t all sweep picking and super-complicated scale patterns. Still, there is a bit of drag to this record, to where the listener gets easily distracted from the riffs on display. Readers will know how much I like things to be straightforward, but not to the point where the riffs simply repeat themselves. The guitar sound itself could have been much sharper and piercing, like that on 2005’s excellent Harvest Ritual.

But the atmosphere is there, and is well-honed for the maximum horror-movie effect. If you’re looking for a simple romp through ghouls and screams and witches and hauntings, then it’s time you visited the WhiteWorm Cathedral.

Favorite Songs: “Reborn through Black Mass”, “???”, "Fear the Priest", “The Dead Among Us”

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WHITESNAKE - Made In Japan

FRONTIERS RECORDS

RELEASE DATE: APRIL 2013

Live albums from WHITSNAKE are a double-edged sword since mastermind David Coverdale is known for ‘correcting’ things that didn’t sound well live on stage, in particularly his vocals. I can’t judge how authentic “Made In Japan” really is since I wasn’t at the band’s show at Loud Park-festival in October 2011. However, the 66 minutes of music on this album sound powerful and entertaining. The set consisted of several classics and tracks from the band’s last studio album, “Forevermore”, which fit really well. The bonus CD contains soundtrack and acoustic versions.

M. SPÄTH


   

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Πρόσφατα Reviews

  • SCAR SYMMETRY - The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity) Concept albums always feel so hit or miss to me. Sometimes the story just doesn’t seem properly conveyed, or even all that interesting enough. Other...
  • NECROPHAGIA - WhiteWorm Cathedral It’s fitting that with the constantly expanding universe of metal bands putting out records, a new Necrophagia album would land in late October of...
  • WHITESNAKE - Made In Japan FRONTIERS RECORDS RELEASE DATE: APRIL 2013 Live albums from WHITSNAKE are a double-edged sword since mastermind David Coverdale is known for ‘correcting’...
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