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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Album Review: Scar Of The Sun – A Series Of Unfortunate Concurrencies

So, here we have a band-name that tricks you into imagining a stoner/doom metal outfit and an album title that sounds like it comes from a macabre children’s work by Lemony Snicket. I must admit I was expecting something grimly dark to emerge from this, but actually found something conversely bright and breezy. It’s full of tenacity and bristling melodrama which achieve by blending driven rock with melodic power metal and some determined progressive touches. There’s plenty of other influences lurking in there; in fact, a whole safari park of genres. Unfortunately, most of them end up clashing in a desperate attempt to be the alpha male and the end result, while being emphatically bold in concept, is a disappointing menagerie of loud animal noises.

Terry Nikas’ impressively clean, flamboyant peacock vocal is both a blessing and a curse and with the wall of gritty sound that fires off behind it, you certainly won’t miss it’s impact. Neither will you miss the guest vocal from ’s Mikael Stanne – he does that guttural second vocal that pops up for the somewhat messy “Ode To A Failure” (several of the song-titles are charmingly self-deprecating, yet no less prophetic). When you consider the Greek’s natural affinity to bands like and , it’s not a surprise to hear the cleans, but the surprisingly tuneless, grizzly bear gargles you will struggle to comprehend. It’s perhaps their attempt to connect with bands like the aforementioned and but, without successfully having nailed down a more aggressive sound to back it, such theatrics come off sounding pretty dire.

With names like Rhys Fulber and Greg Reely (both notable for their work with , and ) helping to monkey around with the sound of the album, it’s no surprise that the backline is so accurate. The smack of the snare, the rumbling kick pedal, the resonantly symphonic wash of the keyboards, the razor-sharp solos, gritty chugs and riffs are all dialed in beautifully. When they combine for a spot of gorilla-chest beating, even begin to share character traits with and . There’s also plenty of centre-shifting as they make the music wrap itself around your head – it’s a great album to play through your headphones. Only that efficiently clean vocal struggles to consistently keep up with the punch. They’ve tried doubling it up as much as possible, adding reverb and dropping the bass down. They load it with effects for the title-track and the catchy “Gravity” with some neat programming touches and this is where it seems to hold it’s own, but on tracks that come in fits and starts (like the uber-thrashy “8th Ocean Dried”, “Disciple Of The Sun” and “A Pause In The Disaster” with it’s achingly slothful delivery and odd mid-track, half-beat lope) it feels too far detached from the music.

Despite this, the latter half of the album fares better than the first, and the emphatic rise and fall of “Burn The Memory” and the main bulk of “I Lost” go some way to crashing home just how effortlessly vast this band can sound when they don’t try to overcomplicate matters. Inevitably, their meddling with song structures is really where this crazy album falls down most obviously. Their tendency to ride roughshod over genres without genuinely getting to grips with any one of them is infuriating. It leads one to speculate that maybe this so-called “series of unfortunate concurrences” is ’s way of admitting this fact. If you still like the principle idea of a crossover band that provide a chameleon-like pacing, giving you both an instant hit and an emotive journey, there are so many better musical zoos you can visit than this one.

Also online @ The New Review = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/scar-of-the-sun-a-series-of-unfortunate-concurrencies

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