Scar Symmetry - The Singularity (Phase I - Neohumanity) [Melodic Death Metal]
Listening to this album has rendered me temporarily unable to express my thoughts in coherent, structured paragraphs, so here goes:
1. The vocals on this album are a huge letdown. Hopefully this doesn't become part of a larger post-Christian Alvestam trend; if the work on "Dark Matter Dimensions" was forgivable at least, the material here certainly isn't.
2. The band has taken their trademark 'corny' shtick a tad too far this time round. It worked in the past - see, for example, the music video for "The Illusionist" - because it contrasted so starkly with how everything else about their material was more than worthy of being taken seriously. Now, the cheesy synth effects, when taken alongside the often-clownish vocals, produce the exact opposite effect.
3. The drum work is solid, but nothing new.
4. The guitar work is, as expected, top-tier. The solos, in particular, are immaculate, allowing the listener to conclude nothing other than that a lot of time, skill and thought must have been put into their creation and execution. Per Nilsson is one of the best things to have happened to music in the past decade or so.
5. However, this only goes a small way towards salvaging an album that starts off oddly (via the strange 53-second piece "The Shape of Things to Come") and never stabilises. There is no "best" or "signature" track to this album (the track closest to this honour being "Spiral Timeshift"), which might be a good thing if the album was a masterpiece, but unfortunately is not the case here given that it falls far short of such a standard.
6. Scar Symmetry has long banked on these things to keep itself relevant: (1) creative guitar work, (2) strong vocals and (3) that unteachable ability to create songs that linger in the listener's memory. As regards The Singularity (Part I), element (2) is rather in question, and element (3) is unquestionably missing. This is not the band's finest moment.