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Interview: SCAR SYMMETRY
Title: Overwhelming homogeneous diversity

In 2005 appeared with „Symmetric In Design“ a groundbreaking Melodic Progressive Death Metal masterpiece how one experience it in such a radiant splendor probably only very rarely.

Author of „Symmetric In Design“ is an ambitious Swedish chapel, which was established in 2004 by partially more or less prominent figures of this stylistics.

Axeman Jonas Kjellgren, known from Carnal Forge, Centinex and World Below as drummer Henrik Ohlsson, known from Theory In Practice, Mutant and Altered Aeon, were there next to singer Christian Älvestam probably the most common names. Älvestam excelled already in Unmoored, Incapacity and Torchbearer.

Now there is with „Pitch Black Progress“ a new exciting album release, showing the gifted Swedish hit suppliers again in absolute top shape.

What exceptional drummer Ohlsson delivers on this superb silver plate, can be heard. The same is true for his clever statements in the interview .

Special good memories of 2005?

„There was a lot of stuff happening in 2005 that I remember with great pleasure, the world-wide release of Altered Aeon`s debut album “Dispiritism” in February, the release of Scar Symmetry`s debut album “Symmetric In Design” the same month, some live shows with both of those bands. I made my girlfriend pregnant for the second time which was nice, he he. Signing to Nuclear Blast with Scar Symmetry was incredible and the release of “Symmetric In Design” in the States in September was awesome plus the interviews that followed with every release.”

Which expectations do you have in mind for 2006?

„I expect basically the same things for 2006 except I won`t make my girlfriend pregnant this year, ha ha! I think there will be a lot more live shows and cool stuff like that in 2006.”

Which main activities happened after the release of the debut album „Symmetric In Design“?

„We did tons of interviews but we didn´t play live that much, we just did some local gigs and one show in Stockholm. That was simply because we didn`t get any tour support for „Symmetric…“, we signed to Nuclear Blast right after that release of that album and Metal Blade didn`t feel like supporting us when we didn`t stay with them! And we hadn`t released anything on Nuclear Blast yet.”

In my opinion the promotion was much to less for such a unique pearl of an Melodic Death Metal work. What´s your opinion?

„Yeah, as I said, we were between two labels and none of them were responsible for us at the time. It was a weird situation but we were so happy that we had signed to Nuclear Blast and that was the most important thing for us. “Symmetric In Design” still served its function for us because it opened up doors that we had never dreamt of going through!”

How much are you satisfied in retrospective with the activities of Metal Blade? They did release the album in licence, or?

„I think that Metal Blade was a great label to work with, they were really professional regarding the interviews and scheduling everything. They booked a lot of interviews for us when the debut album was about to be released. Then they lost interest once we signed to Nuclear Blast but that wasn`t so strange, it was expected.”

Which specific circumstances and influences led to a high-quality and unique musical style as yours?

„It`s hard to answer such a question because when you`re in the band yourself it`s so hard to be objective about it. But I think we all have important roles in the band and that mixture of our personalitites and musical qualities creates what is Scar Symmetry. We didn´t try to be unique, we just play what we feel like playing and if people considers it unique then it is a great thing.”

How did Scar Symmetry get the deal with Nuclear Blast and how ran the arrangements for the details?

„Our former label Cold records contacted Nuclear Blast to see if they were interested in signing us and they were. The next step was to make a deal between those two labels, a deal that pleased both of them. We didn`t get much insight into that. I don`t want to get into specific regarding our contract with Nuclear Blast but let`s just say that we will release albums through their label in the coming years.”

Did you expected such a great success for „Symmetric In Design“?

„We didn`t really expect anything when we released the debut album, we were just glad to see our album released. The incredible response was a total bonus for us, our jaws dropped when we saw one great review after another and the praise never seemed to end.”

How do you feel when you think about the release of your 2nd album „Pitch Black Progress“?

„I`m a bit nervous as always because you never know what people will think of it, our label thinks that it rules and that is comforting but when we`re pushed this hard by Nuclear Blast in terms of promotion and stuff we also have some pressure on us. And that is a bit odd because we haven`t really had this kind of pressure hanging over us before. But then again, I look forward to see the album released and it is so cool that we have already recorded two albums! I mean, the band has only been around since 2004.”

Are there significant differences from „Symmetric In Design“ to the new one?

„I think this one is a bit darker and it has more variety, those are the main differences in my opinion.”

Which are the best songs on the new release „Pitch Black Progress“ in your opinion?

„I like all the songs but my favourites right now are probably “Slaves To The Subliminal” and “Calculate The Apocalypse”. But it changes all the time, I will have a different answer to that question in a couple of days.”

Please give a description of the songwriting process for „Pitch Black Progress“!

„Oh, things went fast! The first songs were written in the summer of 2005 when Jonas came to my place with a bunch of riffs and we put together four or five songs right there and then. I think the songs were „Slaves To The Subliminal“, „Pitch Black Progress“, „Abstracted“ and „Retaliator“ and maybe one more. Jonas wrote „Path Of Least Resistance“ and „Carved In Stone“ at his place around the same time. Per wrote his songs right before the recording at his place, he went from zero songs to a handful of songs in just a couple of days or something! Jonas and Per wrote „The Kaleidoscopic God“ together at Per`s place one day during the summer of 2005. Then Christian created vocal lines for Jonas´ songs and some of Per`s songs and sent them to me and I wrote lyrics for them. Per wrote vocal lines for some of his songs, the ones that Christian didn`t write vocal lines for – DUH!, and sent those to me and I wrote lyrics for those aswell. That is basically how we`ve always worked with this band. The procedure is very fast, we go from zero songs to enough songs for an album in just a couple of weeks.”

From where came the high-class melodies for the new output?

„Musically they all come from Per`s and Jonas´ heads! Vocally they come from Per`s and Christian`s talented minds and Jonas has some input there aswell.”

How satisfied are you with the complete end-result of the new release?

„Very satisfied indeed, I think this album has songs that should appeal to all fans of metal world-wide. There`s mellow songs, there`s fast songs and everything in between. And the production is awesome.”

Please give information about the lyrical contents of „Pitch Black Progress“!

„There`s sort of a concept on the album which revolves around the title „Pitch Black Progress“. The idea is basically that a small number of world-leaders has taken over all media, economy and whatnot, they also use the latest technology to monitor people`s actions and thoughts through microchip-implants in their flesh. Earth has become a prison planet and it reflects, at least in some ways, the situation we experience today in the world. Some lyrics on the album are not a part of this concept and they deal with the stuff that I wrote about on the first album, namely Mysticism, Occultism, theories around the end of this world and alien forms of consciousness.”

To which bands do you prefer to listen, from the glory older days until nowadays?

„I still like bands that I listened to when I was a kid, for example Kiss and W.A.S.P. I`m a huge Kiss-fan! I sort of travel back to the glory days of heavy metal when I listen to those bands. Then I worhip bands like Morbid Angel, Sadus, Cynic, Atheist, Forbidden and other bands that were very significant in the early 90`s. Newer bands that I like are Nevermore, Necrophagist and stuff like that.”

Which are still the most inspiring topics for you guys?

„I guess you mean like lyrical topics? I think that the basics of quantum physics is very inspiring because it makes you look at the world in a totally different way. You are raised to believe that this world is solid and that it is what it is and it cannot be altered because it rules you instead of vice versa. In quantum physics you see that nothing is solid, this world is basically made out of empty spaces and the things that are manifested in this world is manifested because of Expectation and Thought. In the end, according to quantum physics, you create your life instead of your life creating you. So those thoughts are often a part of the Scar Symmetry-lyrics and it is ever-inspiring.”

What are the necessary elements which make a Scar Symmetry song a good one in your point of view?

„The mix between Christian`s vocal styles, catchy killer-riffs backed up by killer rhythm-work, amazing solos, loads of keyboards and well…that`s pretty much what it takes. With all those components you can`t fail!”

Regarding Melodic Progressive Death Metal, what do you think of the works of other acts in that style?

„I`m not sure which bands that belong into that category, but anyone who think of their music as being Melodic, Progressive and Death Metal must be in a killer band!”

Do you like to try other things in art beside the music?

„It may not be a surprise but I like writing stuff, I`ve started writing a couple of books but I`ve never really had time to finish them. I guess it will be something that I will put more energy into in the future. With lyrics you can never be concerned with details, you can never really explain what you want to say in detail and that is why I think books would be a better medium to really explain stuff that flies around in my head. With lyrics you can only reach people that are at a similar state of mind, you know. Nothing makes me happier than hearing a person praise the lyrics and actually understand what I write about!”

What experimentations in music would you like to try in the future?

„We haven`t been thinking that far ahead, right now we`re happy where we are. We will definetly try new stuff once we start writing new material for a third album but I have no idea what it will be or what it will sound like, I`m just as curious as you! We`ll just have to wait and see, eh?”

Which are your other future plans?

„We`re doing the Neckbreaker`s Ball-tour in April with Soilwork, Hypocrisy, Amorphis and One Man Army. Then we`re going to do some festivals in the summer, ProgPower is the only confirmed one right now but others are in negotiation. Oh, and we have a show in Stockholm in June where we will support Darkane. We will probably start recording the third album in early 2007.”

Thank you very much for this interview. Could you please close off with your own words?

„Thank you for the interview, Markus! For all the people out there who`s into Scar Symmetry I encourage you to visit our website at www.scarsymmetry.com where you can read the latest news of the band. Another cool thing is that we have recently recorded a video for the song “The Illusionist” off the new album, we shot it in Serbia in cooperation with iCode who also did the latest Deathstars-video. So keep your eyes open for that one, it will be finished in about two weeks, I think.”

© Markus Eck, 10.03.2006

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