Rating:
4.5
Scar Symmetry - The Unseen Empire
15 April 2011


01. The Anomaly
02. Illuminoid Dream Sequence
03. Extinction Mantra
04. Seers Of The Eschaton
05. Domination Agenda
06. Astronomicon
07. Rise Of The Reptilian Regime
08. The Draconian Arrival
09. Alpha And Omega


So this is it, Scar Symmetry's second release without Christian Älvestam. Two albums in two years makes for a great opportunity to move on from the past and make yourself known to the metal community as a force to be reckoned with regardless of who your frontman is.

Or in this case, who your frontmen are.

Anyone familiar with the band's history knows Älvestam was replaced by two vocalists - one to handle cleans, the other to handle growls. Aside from that, the music hasn't changed all that much, although they did manage to experiment slightly with Dark Matter Dimensions in terms of songwriting, much to their fans' dismay.

The Unseen Empire, however, kicks off where Pitch Black Progress left off: bon cop, bad cop vocals; sweeping melodies; fast-paced, momentum-building songs; aggressive (albeit rather monotonous) drumming... but a pretty cheesy atmosphere. And that's what sets it apart from their earlier sound. Cheese. Not the good kind of setting apart either. I mean, it's hard not to feel like this is some kind of looped circus music, the kind you hear on a merry-go-round. And for some reason that makes me think of Katy Perry.

That leaves you kind of stuck between two worlds. One foot is stomping rapidly to the aggressive pace set forth by the drums, but the other just kind of taps lightly to the tune of the guitars. And it's one of those albums where you find yourself humming along to songs in the car on the drive to work. Not because of its super enjoyable funktastic songwriting, but because it's annoying. And then you're all "the new vocalists suck", and "no wait Älvestam's overrated anyway", and "come on Martha, I swear that hooker didn't have gonorrhea", and that nonsense carries on for a while and then the album's over and everyone in the crowd just stares at you screaming like a madman on a carousel.

Or at least that's where I woke up after this mess finally ended. Did you notice I used the word "and" a lot? If you're that attentive you'll probably be in the Katy Perry world. If you only noticed after I pointed it out, you'll probably be in Footstompville. But I only ever read Philosophy For Dummies. Am I rambling?

Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Production: 5


Band profile: Scar Symmetry
Album: The Unseen Empire


 



Written on 14.11.2011 by
Troy Killjoy
Just another opinionated guy telling you what to listen to.
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Troy Killjoy - 16.11.2011 at 02:16  
Written by stationarytravel on 15.11.2011 at 17:48
Butthurt fans in general.

Just because we don't think these guys are great comedic songwriters doesn't make us butthurt fans. :/
stationarytravel - 16.11.2011 at 06:26  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.11.2011 at 02:16

Written by stationarytravel on 15.11.2011 at 17:48
Butthurt fans in general.

Just because we don't think these guys are great comedic songwriters doesn't make us butthurt fans. :/


Come on brah, you know the amount of br00tal melo-death SRSFAGS out there that are dying to get butthurt by something like SS and complain about it over and over.
Angelic Storm - 16.11.2011 at 07:47  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.11.2011 at 02:16
Just because we don't think these guys are great comedic songwriters doesn't make us butthurt fans. :/


Exactly. On one hand, we have you, who just bashed the band and the album, calling him out on such a ridiculous statement. On the other, we have me, who is an SS fan, but respects anyone's right to be negative about their material if they so wish. I certainly wouldn't bash you for your views, or review just because I disagree. So, neither of us can be accused of being butthurt just because we stated that specific slight against the band from stationarytravel is a factual inaccuracy.

If you look at the way this guy words his posts, it seems very clear to me, that he's a troll. Just deliberately trying to bait people to get a negative reaction. I mean come on, seriously, "SRSFAGS"? What person with a modicum of intelligence uses such a "word" as a serious "put down"? Either he knows fine well what he's saying is nonsense, and merely said it to get a rise out of people, or he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. But I definitely smell a troll here...
Troy Killjoy - 16.11.2011 at 07:49  
Written by Angelic Storm on 16.11.2011 at 07:47
But I definitely smell a troll here...

Agreed, and ignored.
Angelic Storm - 16.11.2011 at 07:54  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.11.2011 at 07:49
Agreed, and ignored.


Same here. I suspected a while back that he might be a troll, but that last post towards you pretty much confirmed it for me.
Garth Vader - 17.11.2011 at 08:42  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 15.11.2011 at 08:10

Written by Garth Vader on 15.11.2011 at 04:55
Troy, you are all over the map lately, and this review is obviously the result of you dropping soap during a prison riot. A 4.5 rating? I mean I understand giving Lulu a low rating because of your fanboy disappointment, but come on! Production is obviously better than a 5, so are we to understand that you are now just a troll here on Metalstorm?? I expect a logical assessment from someone who is supposed to be "staff". Just because SS doesn't fit your favorite depressive, grindcore genre, doesn't mean they are a bunch of talentless hacks as you are so rating them. With or without Alvestam the band is above average at the very least, and I would say there are moments on nearly every album that are melodic stokes of genius. Holographic Universe was one of the best releases of 2008 and with an average rating of 8.6 it is plain to see that most everyone else concurs. It's fine to express your opinions and troll about in the responses, but we expect a little more realistic and thought out assessment from a staffer rating an album, otherwise this great website is little more than someone's blog, full of inane opinions and blather.

Sorry I don't like your favorite band.

I never said they were my fav band. I did take issue with DMD and felt like it lacked the structure of previous albums and chalked it up to the change in band members and dynamics but I think they recovered rather nicely on this one, at least better than expected, and a pleasant surprise is always better than the alternative. Regardless, I take issue with the method by which you rate albums when you are doling out 4's and 5's on specifics like production when even a half way decent garage band would score better than that. That isn't taste related.
Troy Killjoy - 17.11.2011 at 08:45  
Written by Garth Vader on 17.11.2011 at 08:42
I take issue with the method by which you rate albums when you are doling out 4's and 5's on specifics like production when even a half way decent garage band would score better than that. That isn't taste related.

Actually it's quite taste-related. I don't think the production fits the music here. It's too plastic, which takes away from the soul of the music. Obviously the production job is better than some bedroom black metal band's self-released demo recording, but it doesn't improve the sound of the music. Hence, it scores as "bad" or "not good".
Garth Vader - 17.11.2011 at 09:05  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.11.2011 at 08:45

Written by Garth Vader on 17.11.2011 at 08:42
I take issue with the method by which you rate albums when you are doling out 4's and 5's on specifics like production when even a half way decent garage band would score better than that. That isn't taste related.

Actually it's quite taste-related. I don't think the production fits the music here. It's too plastic, which takes away from the soul of the music. Obviously the production job is better than some bedroom black metal band's self-released demo recording, but it doesn't improve the sound of the music. Hence, it scores as "bad" or "not good".

I don't even know what "plastic" means. I look for depth on production issues. I look for elements and instruments that as a whole are cohesive yet can be identified individually. I look for basic technical aspects like the mixing and mastering, dynamic range vs. lo-fi stuff.
Troy Killjoy - 17.11.2011 at 09:14  
Written by Garth Vader on 17.11.2011 at 09:05
I don't even know what "plastic" means. I look for depth on production issues. I look for elements and instruments that as a whole are cohesive yet can be identified individually. I look for basic technical aspects like the mixing and mastering, dynamic range vs. lo-fi stuff.

Plastic is more or less a subjective term. This album felt like it was ... I dunno, overly produced. Like it could use a jagged edge or two in order to make the overall sound a bit edgier. Sometimes these melodic bands focus so much on having this slick production they forget about the end result being sort of stripped as a result. Or maybe that's what they're aiming for, I dunno. I'm not in the studio with them.

As for instruments that can be identified individually, you get that with this more or less. Aside from the bass (no surprise) and the drums seem to be too low in the mix. But that might be personal opinion as well, some people like the softer drum sound. And it's definitely far from lo-fi, as it should be. I don't know how dynamic it is, because to me this would have been a more dynamic feel if there would have been some rough edges, but as I said before, it just gave me a "plastic" feeling. It's like squeezing fake tits. They may look better from far away, but they don't feel nearly as good as the real thing.
Garth Vader - 17.11.2011 at 09:19  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.11.2011 at 09:14

Written by Garth Vader on 17.11.2011 at 09:05
I don't even know what "plastic" means. I look for depth on production issues. I look for elements and instruments that as a whole are cohesive yet can be identified individually. I look for basic technical aspects like the mixing and mastering, dynamic range vs. lo-fi stuff.

Plastic is more or less a subjective term. This album felt like it was ... I dunno, overly produced. Like it could use a jagged edge or two in order to make the overall sound a bit edgier. Sometimes these melodic bands focus so much on having this slick production they forget about the end result being sort of stripped as a result. Or maybe that's what they're aiming for, I dunno. I'm not in the studio with them.

As for instruments that can be identified individually, you get that with this more or less. Aside from the bass (no surprise) and the drums seem to be too low in the mix. But that might be personal opinion as well, some people like the softer drum sound. And it's definitely far from lo-fi, as it should be. I don't know how dynamic it is, because to me this would have been a more dynamic feel if there would have been some rough edges, but as I said before, it just gave me a "plastic" feeling. It's like squeezing fake tits. They may look better from far away, but they don't feel nearly as good as the real thing.

I've tried both kinds and either one can be nice depending on what you are into at the time, I guess it's what you are looking for in the long run and I would agree that I'd take real over fake in the end.
Angelic Storm - 17.11.2011 at 09:32  
I kinda agree with Troy about the production, although 5 may be a little overly harsh... I much prefer the production on "Pitch Black Progress", for while it's far from being raw and sounding cheaply produced, the sound has an edge, a punch, and just a touch of raw jaggedness that does make the songs sound heavier and a bit more "in your face" than the new album's sound.
Troy Killjoy - 17.11.2011 at 09:36  
Written by Angelic Storm on 17.11.2011 at 09:32
I kinda agree with Troy about the production, although 5 may be a little overly harsh...

I go by the MS rating scale. 5 = not good. If 7 was for "not good" then I'd give the production a 7.

I'd almost like to have little sentences for each category as opposed to numbers. A good example why would be my conversation with Garth Vader; you can't tell a story with just a number.
Angelic Storm - 17.11.2011 at 09:42  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.11.2011 at 09:36
I go by the MS rating scale. 5 = not good. If 7 was for "not good" then I'd give the production a 7.

I'd almost like to have little sentences for each category as opposed to numbers. A good example why would be my conversation with Garth Vader; you can't tell a story with just a number.


Well, I guess I just myself personally don't think it's THAT bad. I do prefer the production on the earlier SS albums... It's the same style of music, but the rawer and less plastic production gives the guitar sound a bit of bite, and the mainstream sounding melodies don't come off as being quite so poppy, even if in actual fact they are.

And yep, sometimes just a number can't give the full story on your opinion.
hadriel - 17.11.2011 at 17:04  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.11.2011 at 09:36

Written by Angelic Storm on 17.11.2011 at 09:32
I kinda agree with Troy about the production, although 5 may be a little overly harsh...

I'd almost like to have little sentences for each category as opposed to numbers. A good example why would be my conversation with Garth Vader; you can't tell a story with just a number.


Isn't that what the review is for?

All told, can't argue with the review. Everything is justified (and the comment discussion/justification adds even more to this). The ratings are probably a little over-exaggerated, the album was filled with a lot of this 'cheese', but overall I still find SS's delivery to still be of a higher quality than 80% of the other bands out there that are similar to them... but I guess that's really not saying all too much good about them still. I still enjoy old SS because they were one of those 'gateway' bands that got me into the metal I listen to now and to a certain extent I think I still enjoy this album a little bit just due to that nostalgia... but Holographic Universe is really the only album I respect from a technical aspect; and even it still contains a pretty hefty amount of this so-called 'cheese' factor. I'm rambling now...great review as per usual.
psykometal - 17.11.2011 at 19:43  
I don't think Christian is a god but I am a fan (yes I do think Mikael Akerfeldt does it better) and I personally don't care much for the new guys. I would agree the music is the same and musically they were very "mid-range" and if they didn't have Christian I probably wouldn't have ever gotten into them. I wouldn't say that everything Christian has done is gold but I do think he is a very talented vocalist (imo he made SS) and I do enjoy everything I've listened to that features his vocals (Scar Symmetry, Solution .45, Miseration and his various guest work) so for me SS is just another "mid-range" [mediocre] "good cop/bad cop" melodeath band now. I always found it hilarious that SS had to replace Christian with 2 guys; guess they felt that Christian was some kind of god and no match could be found in any mere single mortal...
Troy Killjoy - 17.11.2011 at 20:00  
Written by hadriel on 17.11.2011 at 17:04
Isn't that what the review is for?
I'm rambling now...great review as per usual.

You dick. Ya, I just don't like delving too much into technical aspects like that. I guess my review style has changed, I focus more on the implications that the album had on me and only mention the tech aspects to give the reader an idea of what it sounds like, as opposed to the opposite which is what I used to try and do.

And thanks! Didn't know you've been reading up on my stuff.
Grody2themax - 18.11.2011 at 07:30  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.11.2011 at 09:36

Written by Angelic Storm on 17.11.2011 at 09:32
I kinda agree with Troy about the production, although 5 may be a little overly harsh...

I go by the MS rating scale. 5 = not good. If 7 was for "not good" then I'd give the production a 7.

I'd almost like to have little sentences for each category as opposed to numbers. A good example why would be my conversation with Garth Vader; you can't tell a story with just a number.


It's complicated though. The album production could be very good and professional technically speaking, which would make it better than a 5. But, if you're looking at it like "this shit sucks, it doesn't even sound like humans are playing it", or in other words it sounds too "plastic". Im with you on the over produced though, but I can like a well produced album just as much as long as the sound of the musicians and producer is authentic.
hadriel - 18.11.2011 at 07:38  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 17.11.2011 at 20:00

Written by hadriel on 17.11.2011 at 17:04
Isn't that what the review is for?
I'm rambling now...great review as per usual.

You dick. Ya, I just don't like delving too much into technical aspects like that. I guess my review style has changed, I focus more on the implications that the album had on me and only mention the tech aspects to give the reader an idea of what it sounds like, as opposed to the opposite which is what I used to try and do.

And thanks! Didn't know you've been reading up on my stuff.


haha just being hard on ya. I prefer your newer review style too, it's what motivated me to check out some of my favorites this year like deafheaven and WoD. I think I started reading all of your reviews after the deafheaven one actually. Keep'em coming it's all good stuff.
Butters49 - 21.11.2011 at 05:22  
Gothernburg gets so repedative so fast...
Kennoth - 23.11.2011 at 03:50  
IDK... first three albums were golden. This albums isn't BAD per se, but I just can't really enjoy it. It gets too old, too fast.
stationarytravel - 24.11.2011 at 04:44  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.11.2011 at 07:49

Written by Angelic Storm on 16.11.2011 at 07:47
But I definitely smell a troll here...

Agreed, and ignored.


Your trawl detectors are failing bro.

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