After witnessing a particularly energetic set, made up mostly of selections from their acclaimed Nuclear Blast debut, "Pitch Black Progress", I ran into SCAR SYMMETRY guitarist Jonas Kjellgren relaxing in the back of the venue. The sweat hadn't even dried from his brow when I approached him to ask what we could expect from his band's next recording, yet he was eager to discuss the matter with me. Unfortunately, between the noise level in the building, my ear's inability to decipher Kjellgren's thick, Swedish accent and the amount of spirits I had consumed throughout the evening, I wasn't entirely sure how he answered. While a direct quote from the man himself might have served for a better segue into the bulk of this review, the grin on his face and wild look in his eyes told me that we were in store for one hell of an album.
SCAR SYMMETRY, while an impressive group of musicians, have never really made the same waves as the likes of (early) IN FLAMES or SOILWORK in regards to the technical aspect of their music. What they do excel at is taking a collection of attention-grabbing riffs and melodies and building them into kick-ass examples of melodic metal. Though they don't exactly take a completely conventional approach each and every time, the verse-chorus-verse structure is one that SCAR SYMMETRY uses masterfully, and even eloquently at times. Similarly, they can take the stereotypical aspects of "arena" metal — big, dramatic choruses that induce instant sing-a-longs, flashy guitar solos, fist-pumping bridges, et al — and portray them in a way that speaks to a variety of fans. "Timewave Zero" employs a clean guitar/vocal verse that sees the song dip slightly into power ballad waters, but still packs an aggressive punch. "Morpogenesis" and "Quantumleaper" are among the album's more straightforward tunes while "Three-Dimensional Element", as well as the title track, sees bits of MESHUGGAH and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD tossed into the band's signature sound. SCAR SYMMETRY even gets downright brutal during parts of "Prism And Gate" and "The Missing Coordinates"; keeping their death metal cred fully intact. The unifying thread among everyone one of the disc's 12 songs is melody. Whether it's coming from Christian Älvestam's vocals or the duo of Kjellgren and Per Nilsson, gobs of powerful melody ooze from "Holographic Universe". The overall listening experience is quite the memorable one.
"Holographic Universe" hasn't seen SCAR SYMMETRY undergo any drastic changes in sound or style, nor have they tried to push the envelope forward. By widening the scope of what they have done of previous efforts, the band has avoided the cliché of writing the same album twice, and has simply written a better one. Quite a statement when you consider the quality of "Pitch Black Progress". Overall, this is one very well-planned and structured album that comes across as accessible and heavy at the same time. SCAR SYMMETRY is Swedish melodic death metal's answer to the perfect rock band.