Scar Symmetry
The Unseen Empire

Swedish prog death metal band Scar Symmetry comes back with their fifth studio release, The Unseen Empire, a concept album put forth about the Illuminati — or as quoted from drummer Henrik Ohlsson, this album “seeks to expose the hidden hand of the elite that pull the strings of mankind in order to fulfill their agenda of global domination”. (Cue Twilight Zone theme music!)

Before I start on this I just have to say that while I still remain a big fan of these guys, I’ve tended to be more scrutinizing with Christian Alvestam’s vocal successors Roberth Karlsson and Lars Palmqvist. Don’t get me wrong–they both hit pretty close to home as far as matching Christian’s melodic and harsh vocals go–but their  difference in pitches, groove styles and overall presentation will forever be a bit too evident to me.

Now of course I realize that any time a band gets a new vocalist–let alone two–it’s definitely wise to expect the unexpected. While musically I still loved the predecessing album Dark Matter Dimensions, it was still a little off putting getting used to the new vocalists and the new influences being brought to the table in the songwriting. For instance I picked up a lot more of an epic metal feel than usual on that album. However, on The Unseen Empire you can tell they’ve come a lot closer to fusing the new vocal elements into the writing process, and have to say, I’ve been much more impressed on the second go around with Karlsson and Palmqvist fronting the band.

For some tracks to check out on the album I would definitely suggest both the opening track (“The Anomaly”) and the closing track (“Alpha and Omega”) both songs, if listened to the album in succession, are perfectly placed to set the tone of the tracks and ending it on a heavier finish. For a more groove-oriented track you might want to check out “Domination Agenda” which seems to follow a more “The Illusionist” and “Morphogenesis” kind of feel. And of course for those wanting to see just how heavy they get with this release I’d suggest “Extinction Mantra” as well as “Seers of the Schaton”.

All in all, The Unseen Empire really seems to be what the previous album should have been.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Derek Taylor
June 16th, 2011


  1. Commented by: thisblacksession

    Glad to hear this is a bit of a return to form– I was disappointed with their previous album. It really wasn’t through any fault of their own, I’m just a big fan of Christian’s work.

    Will definitely check this out!

  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I was really expecting to be disappointed with this after Dark Matter Dimensions, but you’re right Derek – this is a much better release. I’ve been playing the crap out of it for the past month, will probably wind up on my year-end list too.

    it’s also funny ’cause at first I thought the choruses were more saccharine and pop-friendly than ever, but then I went back and listened to Symmetric in Design again and nope, this is pretty much in line with that album’s blend of huge hooks, prog-fireworks, death gurgles and syrupy choruses.

    glad to see these guys pull it together again.

  3. Commented by: DK777

    Melodic and hard-edged, well played and well produced…

    Can’t ask for much more than that! This gets a daily spin in my house or car.

    Really, really excellent…

  4. Commented by: Dustin

    Uh, they went with conspiracy theory bullshit as the lyrical hook for the album? Fuck ’em. They won’t even get an illegal download from me.

  5. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    illuminati raped his mom

  6. Commented by: faust

    Man I can’t stop listening to “Extinction Mantra”.. didn’t think they’d be able to write a tune this catchy, melodic and smooth without Alvestam. The album is pretty damn solid.

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