Review by Paul Castles
Scar Symmetry could be described as the friendly face of melodic death metal. The likeable Swedes can conjure up some mean tunes and their unorthodox double-fronted approach certainly brought a feelgood factor to the Academy 3.
Earlier in the evening Bloodshot Dawn had served up some pretty ferocious death metal roars of their own although even these boys gave the impression that they were just out for a good time on another icy night in Birmingham. The Hampshire headbangers have been able to build up a growing band of followers on the back of last year’s impressive self-titled release.
Their straightforward thrash delivery with a sprinkling of death metal in all the right places proved a hit at Hammerfest where they drew a really healthy sized crowd, even with Enslaved on stage elsewhere at the same time. Live, tracks such as ‘Godless’ and album opener ‘Beckoning Oblivion’, really take on an additional kick with some dynamic riffs and vocalist Josh McMorran, who would give anyone a run for their money in a Rob Flynn look-a-like competition, has all the energy and passion you’d want in a metal frontman.
Beholder were flying the flag for the Midlands at the Academy. The Coventry boys made the short jaunt up the M6 and wasted no time in making their presence felt. Superbly bearded vocalist Simon Hall is a real man mountain and could probably do away with a mic altogether such is his ballsout delivery style.
The Cov crew play a brash brand of straight down the middle metal but manage to make it sound fresh and alive. Tracks such as ‘The Heretic’ and ‘Footprints in the Sand’ were instant crowd pleasers while everyone was encouraged to raise their middle digit for ‘Liar’ a less than favourable view of bureaucrats, bankers and their ilk. Although Beholder bailed out in time to catch a ferry across the Irish Sea, as a Midlands band we shouldn’t have to wait long for their return.
Headliners Scar Symmetry offer up something different, two male singers who do just that, no guitars. The band did have a few line-up issues at the Academy but the main centre stage pairing of Roberth Karlsson and Lars Palmqvist were intact. Palmqvist provides the harmonic side of the divide leaving his soulmate Karlsson to grind things up with his death metal growls. Anyone unsure what to expect with these likeable Swedes got the message from opening number ‘The Anomaly’ with Karlsson crashing straight in with the gruff barks before Palmqvist belts out some sweeping clean vocals.
It’s not a combo you see that often on a metal stage but these Swedes have developed this as very much their own stamp and on tracks such as ‘Rise of the Reptilian Regime’ everything fits together like a jigsaw. While both singers have the space to show off their own vocal range when the two overlap you end up with some pretty awesome songs backed by a technically tight band that has more polish than an army barracks bursting with young recruits.
The Academy crowd really took to the Swedes clapping along whenever the beat demanded and were rewarded with an old favourite to close, ‘The Illusionist’. While not as dark or intense as countrymen such as Hypocrisy and Opeth, Scar Symmetry’s crushing choruses are hard to resist and they gained plenty of new admirers in Brum.
Scar Symmetry setlist
The Anomaly, Morphogenesis, The Iconoclast, Slaves to the Subliminal, Mind Machine, Rise of the Reptilian Regime, Frequencyshifter, Retaliator, Chaosweaver, The Draconian Arrival, Reborn, The Illusionist