Scar SymmetryMetalcore bands, New Wave of American Metal bands, get your pens out and write down this very important lesson: the Swedes are still better than you at metal. You may be able to shred with the best of them, combine dirty thrash with neo-classical twin leads, and alternate between death metal growls and catchy, clean-sung choruses, but there’s something in the water over on the other side of the pond that continually keeps the Swedish just one step above. For proof, look no farther than relative new-comers Scar Symmetry, who released their second album with Nuclear Blast in mid-2006.

Scar Symmetry’s MySpace profile proclaims the band as “The New Age of Melodic Death Metal!” while also employing the increasingly common “For Fans of…” tactic (Scar Symmetry reference Soilwork, In Flames and Shadows Fall). I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description of their music, in that order. Vocalist Christian lvestam’s clean sung parts are eerily similar to Soilwork’s Speed Strid, though he demonstrates a considerably wider range. Ivestam’s death metal growl is deeper than Strid’s, though just as haunting. Scar Symmetry’s songwriting style references Soilwork the most while also invoking some of the best elements of In Flames; guitarists Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilsson are not shy about soloing, a tendency Soilwork seems to have shied away from on recent albums. The rhythm section of Kenneth Seil (bass) and Henrik Ohlsson (drums) play in perfect lockstep, making the listener feel every hit with maximum impact and brutality.

True to form, Scar Symmetry’s video for their debut single “The Illusionist” is a perfectly executed piece featuring everything a metal video should, keeping the inner Beavis and Butthead in all of us completely satisfied: fire, explosions, dead trees, high-speed wind, skulls, lightning, bombed out buildings, red roses being stepped on, high-altitude cliffs, and a bad-ass metal band rocking the fuck out in the middle of it all. (The video is linked through YouTube on their MySpace page).

Pitch Black Progress, the band’s latest release, is a must for any fan of melodic death metal. Staunch death metal purists will whine ecstatic about the clean sung vocals and sense of melody present here. To the aforementioned, I say this: shut the fuck up. It’s all about the songs, and Scar Symmetry talented songwriting leaves them with plenty in this department. “The Illusionist” is an obvious standout track, and “Slaves to the Subliminal,” “The Kaleidoscopic God,” and “The Path of Least Resistance” are other favorites. “Deviate from the Form” is a dark horse as the last track of the disc, supplying a surprising and memorable ending. Ah, hell, every song is good on this album. Do yourself a favor and go buy a copy.

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