I have been a fan of Scar Symmetry since just after the release of 2006’s Pitch Black Progress, and every time they have released a new album since then, I have always thought, “That’s it, they’ve reached their peak of excellence. This is the best album that they could have released right now. Everything after this is going to be mediocre at best.” Somehow, every album has defied logic in exceeding the quality of its predecessor. The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) is the latest in a series of albums with ever-increasing compositional brilliance, technical excellence, and conceptual ingenuity.
Introducing a previously-unheard progressive element to the band’s sound, this entire album possesses an undeniable influence from classic Opeth. This influence even shows up in song lengths, as the average song length increases to almost six minutes. The album also carries hints of industrial, ambient, and power metal, making this the most stylistically diverse Scar Symmetry album to date. From a vocal standpoint, Roberth Karlsson and Lars Palmqvist deliver the best performances of their respective careers. Their individual deliveries are monstrous, and their tandem moments are the golden moments that every Scar Symmetry fan has dreamed of. Put simply, this album is pure gold. The fact that it’s the first album in a trilogy makes me even more excited for what’s to come, because I’m quite sure that the two albums to come will be just as good, if not better.
Key tracks: “Neohuman”, “The Spiral Timeshift”, “Technocalyptic Cybergeddon”
Sevendust, Time Travelers and Bonfires (7Bros.) – Although not technically a metal album due to its entirely acoustic nature, this was my most listened-to album in 2014, because it is positively gorgeous in every way.
Amaranthe, Massive Addictive (Spinefarm) – This is the catchiest album I’ve heard in years, and I love that its best melodies still stick in my brain like cement.
Body Count, Manslaughter (Sumerian) – The best fusion of rap and metal that has been released in the past two decades, hands down.
Mors Principium Est, Dawn of the 5th Era (AFM) – Five albums into their career, this band still sounds as vicious as they did on their first album, and no other band from the Finnish scene has their level of intensity.
Raunchy, Vices.Virtues.Visions. (Massacre) – Their first album with new vocalist Mike Semesky is a giant step forward from the lackluster A Discord Electric.
Unearth, Watchers of Rule (eOne) – With the most hardcore content in the band’s discography since The Stings of Conscience, this album could cause a mosh pit on a crowded street.
Demon Hunter, Extremist (Solid State) – The diversity of sound works miles better on Extremist than it did on True Defiance, and the band hasn’t shown the heaviness displayed on this album in years.
Whitechapel, Our Endless War (Metal Blade) – This isn’t deathcore anymore, it’s just flesh-ripping death metal that will blow everyone’s expectations out of the water.
Machine Head, Bloodstone & Diamonds (Nuclear Blast) – Channeling the best aspects of their back catalog into one album, this is the album that will unite the entire Machine Head fanbase.
Delain, The Human Contradiction (Napalm) – With some of the best lyrical content of any album released this year and an extremely diverse landscape of sound, Delain has further revealed just how insanely talented they are.
I could go on for days with honorable mentions, but just listen to more of the Spotify playlist below to hear more of what I liked.