Artificial intelligence, cryogenics, immortality. Scar Symmetry are back with an album which deals with those complex topics. They are the basis for the concept behind "The Singularity, Phase 1: Neohumanity," which part of a trilogy. After releasing a concept album with their last release, "The Unseen Empire," the next logical step had to be a trilogy, right? Of course! The last album was my favorite by the band and I really thought it would be impossible for them to top it, but they have. Add in the fact that guitarist Jonas Kjellgren left the band, it seemed even more of a challenge.
The good news is that with Per Nilsson as the lone guitarist and sole composer of the music, the album sounds more consistent than ever before. Per has said it sounds "like Cannibal Corpse and Toto having a love child being delivered by Dream Theater." This might seem a bit extreme, but it's actually a fair description. The band has remained as heavy as they have ever been but have added an even more melodic approach, with an even bigger emphasis on complex progressive arrangements. "Limits to Infinity" is a perfect example. It has plenty of heavy guitars, death vocals from Roberth Karlsson and more keyboards throughout, but the chorus is so damn catchy that you have to sing along with clean vocalist Lars Palmqvist. As I am typing this, the chorus is immediately in my head.
"Neohuman" is the same way: you can't help but nod your head with the music and sing along. The lyrics are a different story. Drummer/lyricist Henrik Ohlsson has a massive storyline and lyrics that are complex and not easy to follow initially. But that's why they make liner notes and lyric printouts. I am not going to dissect the story because honestly, it's better for the listener to experience the futuristic bleakness of disease, cryogenics and digitalization themselves. It's somewhere between The Matrix and The Terminator, I guess!
One of my favorite tracks is the epic closer, "Technocalyptic Cybergeddon" (say that 10 times fast), which is the most progressive song the band has ever done. There is even a beautiful PIANO solo in it!
Another strength of this album is Per's solos. Many guitarists believe it's the number of notes that matter, but Per's solos are designed to fit each song. Even that last epic track does not have an endless guitar solo. "The Singularity, Phase 1: Neohumanity" is just the first part of this story. Based on what it reveals both lyrically and musically, I cannot wait for Phase 2 and 3!