Tag Archives: christian alvestam

“Holographic Universe” by Scar Symmetry

Artist: Scar Symmetry
Title: “Holographic Universe”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 7/8/2008
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Rating: 4/5

We sometimes find that by the time a band gets to their third album that they are now just sitting back a little after knowing how they impressed with the debut and then continued their magic to beat the “sophomore curse” as they proved that they could still impress you with little difficulty. Truth be told, the third album is probably the most important as it is a release that will either show you that the group is in this for the long haul or it could be one that proves you no longer have what it takes. Based on this premise it is with great pleasure that I report that Scar Symmetry will once again knock your socks off with their latest and third release on Nuclear Blast Records – “Holographic Universe”. The band seemed to come out of nowhere with “Symmetric In Design” (2005), an album that I missed entirely when it first came out, but when they offered up “Pitch Black Progress” (2006), I found them to be one of the most exciting groups that I had heard in a long time. Perhaps it is because they are Swedish in origin and they come from a land that seems to be overflowing with Melodic Death Metal acts of note, but perhaps it is something different entirely. The one thing that I do know is that lead singer Christian Alvestam gives you more than your moneys worth with his ability to sing perfectly in both Melodic and Death vocals and almost duels with himself vocally and this trait makes Scar Symmetry’s music all the more interesting. As a release, “Holographic Universe” is the perfect next step in the bands progression from their second album which many had lauded as a recording to purchase if one was seeking the best in the genre.
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“Yersinia Pestis” by Torchbearer

Artist: Torchbearer
Title: “Yersinia Pestis”
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 5/4/2004
Genre: Speed Death Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

Torchbearer is a band that is a blistering force of riffs that seem to come at you from all angles and while some of them are quite deft there are moments where the listener will have trouble discerning one track from the next. This problem is based on the main riff similarity but since the band demonstrates some true technical chops I am likened to think of this as their theme as opposed to their downfall. The album “Yersinia Pestis” is ten tracks that are all in some way about bubonic plague or “Black Death” and given its subject matter you can tell that this is not a happy or joyous album. It’s intense and lead singer Par Johansson screeches and wails while guitarist Christian Alvestam provides additional growls to accompany him and make the level of drama to an even larger scale. The drummer is to be commended on this one as he doesn’t seem to stop for a breath once since the whole recording is blast beats, frenetic double bass patterns and rolls. “Far Advanced Closure” is one of the albums best tracks as it displays numerous techniques and styles from the band. The slow down only once it seems and this is with the introduction for “Shorespread God”, but the listener should not grow comfortable with the break since as soon as this part completes the band assaults you for the remainder of the song. “Failures Dawn” is also pretty good but it seemed like this closing track had come up almost as fast as the album had been begun. There is some good stuff on these grooves but I definitely had to listen a few more times to actually catch where some of them were. It’s one thing to be fast, which Torchbearer truly is, but with them doing this so often I found them losing me a little bit. The other aspect of the albums closing track that I rather enjoyed was the drum solo by Henrik Schonstrom. Definitely a skilled player on the kit and someone you want to have when your Metal is as fast as this. The band hails from Sweden and the lineup is completed by G. Johansson (guitar) and Mikael Degerman (bass).
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“Nuclear Blast 20 Years: Out Of The Dark” by Nuclear Blast All-Stars

Artist: Nuclear Blast Allstars
Title: “Nuclear Blast 20 Years: Out Of The Dark”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 10/2/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

When the light fades away we are left standing in the dark and if alone it often plays tricks on ones mind and can hold a foreboding and sinister grip on our psyche. Now that I have your attention I present the second part in the celebration of Nuclear Blast Records 20th Anniversary with “Out Of The Dark” – a CD that continues what we last heard on its predecessor “Into The Light”. Similar to “ITL”, the music has been written by a particular performer and all the songs are sung by different vocalists. With “Into The Light” we found rather upbeat and positive energy at the musical hands of Victor Smolski (Rage) and singers such as Tobias Sammett (EdGuy) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) but with “Out Of The Dark” the similarity ends here. Musically this one comes at the talented hands of Peter Wichers, who many remember from the band Soilwork, and while he is no longer a member he still remains one of the industry’s most talented individuals. Wichers did a great job on this one as he molds and works each tune to be a unique entity of its own and doesn’t give us a regurgitation of one same old style over and over. He managed to fit each track into the personality of who would sing it and the end result will really impress the most stoic of Metal followers. The tune by In Flames’ Anders was a good opener, but it seemed overshadowed by “Schizo” which is delivered by Hypocrisy/Pain’s leader Peter Tagtgren. The song had more Pain than Hypocrisy in there if you asked me but had a smoldering groove throughout that was oh so exciting. “Devotion” shows that Wichers could pen a Black Metal epic that was worthy of being part of the Dimmu Borgir set list if need be. However instead of Shagrath, we find Jari of Wintersun doing the vocals here and really showing that the dark is bleak and unforgiving.
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Dark Tranquillity @ Blender Theater at Gramercy (3/26/2007)

Tonight was a co-headlining tour that was being done by The Haunted and Dark Tranquillity and depending on what night you went you would have one or the other switching off the main band spot. In NYC the show would find Dark Tranquillity being the main attraction and the killer show also featured Scar Symmetry who were making their first appearance in the states along with popular opening mainstays Into Eternity who were welcoming new members to their ranks. We made sure to be in the new Blender Theater early enough to be able to document all of the bands in words and images. Should you want to see more just click the logo below to be taken to our article on the main PiercingMetal.com site.

Logo - Dark Tranquillity

Artist: Dark Tranquillity
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: The Haunted, Into Eternity, Scar Symmetry
Date: 3/26/2007
Label: Century Media Records

I guess I should say right off the bat that there were a few reasons that I wanted to check out this show and the first of these would be my chance to do a little exploration into a newly opened venue. Conveniently located on E23rd Street off Lexington Avenue, The Gramercy Theatre is a former movie house that has been modified to handle music performances. The venue is served up like a miniature version of the Nokia Theatre and has both a general admission standing area and seating. Whether the seating will be assigned for some shows is not clear to me but it could very well be the case depending on who is performing. I wasn’t sure of the capacity of the place, but guessed around 800 which make it smaller than both Irving Plaza and B.B. Kings at full attendance. This allows the fan to get up close to their favorite players should they pay a visit. Tonight’s show would also be exciting because it was the first appearance on US Shores for Scar Symmetry and I have been loving their latest Nuclear Blast Records release “Pitch Black Progress”. Into Eternity would perform and it’s always nice to see these guys. Tonight they would have two new members with Justin Bender of guitar and find name on drums. Labeled “The Metal For The Masses” Tour the event would be headlined by The Haunted with the co-headliner being Dark Tranquillity. On my arrival to the venue I was pleased to find that tonight’s show would be one of the Dark Tranquilllity headlining spots as the two groups had been switching it up as they rolled through America. Here is how it went down for me so pay attention.
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