“this album is more aggressive but also more direct and focused”

Inertia has understandably receiving praise from fans and critics a like. It’s the first album that SCAR OF THE SUN have released under their new label Napalm Records. Before the release of the album, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to vocalist Terry Nikas about Inertia. Especially adding when it came to adding death growls for the first time.

Hello Terry, thank you for joining us today. This is my first experience of Scar Of The Sun. For someone else who hasn’t heard of Scar Of The Sun before, how would you describe your sound?

I will have to describe our sound for this album [Inertia] because we changed our sound a lot from our first album, this is our third. I would say this album is a mixuture of Swedish death metal, metalcore and gjent, there are all these British bands we really love like Architects. For four out out five our members, Architects is our favourite band. If someone can imagine a combination of these three metal genres, this is what we play for this album. 

The base of our band was Paradise Lost Symbol Of Life era at the beginning of 2002. We had other elements in our music as well but the base was that era of Paradise Lost. A lot of England in there.

I was going to ask how Inertia differs from your previous albums. 

The main thing was the European gothic metal scene; Paradise Lost, Tiamat, Katatonia and even Type O’ Negative from the States. We also had elements of Swedish Death Metal and some progressive metal elements. Times changed and years passed, this album is more aggressive but also more direct and focused. It’s less complex for sure. This is the main change from even our second album. The music and vocals are more aggressive. It’s the first time I have incorporated death metal vocals on a Scar Of The Sun album, the majority of vocals are death metal vocals on the album which is a first time for us.

When I was listening to it I could hear elements of Gojira, Opeth. Would you agree or disagree?

We like Opeth but they aren’t one of our main influences. Our main influence would be Dark Tranquility, also Killswitch Engage. We absolutely love Gojira. There are lots of hidden influences from Architects in there and also Tesseract. 

You have released some singles. Given the difference in your sound, I was wondering what the comments on social media platforms were like.

There have been some very funny comments. When we released our second single, the title track, quite a few people were saying that we sound like Lamb Of God and Mushroomhead. When I said that to the other guys, most of the guys were trying to find out who Mushroomhead were. The funny thing about Lamb Of God, I respect them as a band but they are not my kind of metal. It is very funny that we get these comparisons but it’s OK. In the past, we have had some crazy comparisons like Prong, Green Card Nation. It’s up to the person to see things in our music that comes from their own experiences. These are different from us and that’s OK.

This is your first album with Napalm Records, how has it been working with them so far?

It’s a dream. We used to be on a smaller label called Scarlet Records, they did all they could for us and we have no problem with them. When we got the offer to join Napalm Records, Scarlet Records released us as we had a contract to do one more album with them and they were absolutely fine with it. They said Napalm Records will really help you with this new album.

Working with a label like Napalm Records is amazing as you have a very strong and serious team next to you. They’re taking care of things that up until now we would do on our own. Obviously, it’s important we have a budget for the videos and the mastering. Before now, money for photoshoots, tours and videos were coming out of our pockets. This is why it has taken us a few years to release the album because in order to tour, you need a serious amount of money and if you put in the equation that Greece was in a huge financial crisis for the last ten years, it was difficult to put that money together everytime. 

We also believed in our music, we wanted to do it the proper way. Not just release an album and have it there without any impact. We think that an album that is not released by a proper label, proper promotion it will go unnoticed. It doesn’t matter if your friends and family are listening to it, it still goes unnoticed. 

It’s also a great way to get your music across worldwide.

Of course. Already so far we have gathered a fan base from touring especially in England. We’re very grateful as on our last European tour, we did six shows on the UK leg of the tour. It was back in 2017 supporting Firewind and the UK leg did incredibly well. We were so happy. In a way, we knew it would because the music we play appeals more to UK audiences and America than in Central Europe. The UK and the States seem to take to the modern style of metal whereas Central Europe is more about power metal and heavy metal. That doesn’t mean we won’t focus on Central Europe.

With COVID 19 and lockdown worldwide, a lot of bands had to postpone their album release dates. Was this the intended release date for Inertia?

Actually, when we reached the agreement with Napalm Record we had discussions about the release. We asked to release it for the latest possible date due to Covid but on the other hand, it had already been five years since the release of our previous album. If it had been a couple of years since our last release then I would have said wait one more year. But because it had been five years since our last release, we didn’t want to delay so it was somewhere in the middle for us. It is difficult to promote during the times we are living in but this is the same situation for a lot of bands. There’s nothing more we can do other than to stay safe.

Did you manage to get your parts recorded before you went into lockdown?

This album was ready in 2019. It was also mixed but I had to mix it again. My job is a sound engineer and I have a recording studio so I recorded and mixed the album. Last December, I mixed the album again as there were elements I wanted to improve so that was the only thing we did during Covid times. All the rest was done before. So the band didn’t have to come to the studio to record. On this album, we weren’t affected by Covid. Also as a band, Covid didn’t effect us at all as we had just signed with Napalm Records, we weren’t touring yet and we signed the contract during the lockdown. Other bands that had been touring had stopped completely, we were already on the previous phase and now it’s coming to an end, we await the next phase which is touring that will hopefully happen soon.

Going back to using growls for the first time, did you already have in mind which tracks and parts were going to have growls?

This is a very good question because this was the first time for me to incorporate growls and I had to ask myself the same question. Where am I supposed to put growls and where am I supposed to sing clean vocals? Since our first two albums, all the vocals were melodic and although I really love growls, it felt like I was cheating when I was adding growls. I was used to adding melodies to parts but now it was like OK now I am going add growls, I don’t have to come up with a melodic line. The only bit I had to do with the rhythmic base of the vocal line. 

For this album, I decided to incorporate growls. The music on this album is more aggressive and heavier than before. So, it helped me quite a lot to decide which parts I would add death growls to. It was obvious to me that the parts that were more melodic demanded clean vocals and the melodic lines. The parts that were more groovy, faster and aggressive I said I would put growls here. 

This is hard for bands like us that incorporate both clean vocals and growls, it’s tricky. I also ask the other guys for their opinion and that’s how we decided where to place the vocals. Mainly it’s my decision as the vocalist. It’s a feeling, it’s not something specific that you will think here is where the growls go. It’s up to you really.

Did you incorporate growls before as part of other projects or is this your first time you’re trying out growls?

This is the first time. I couldn’t do growls before, I changed vocal coach that helped me find my own sound because it’s quite hard. I started doing vocal lessons with a classical singer so my first vocal lessons for a couple of years were classical vocals. That makes growls a bit difficult because the technique is the complete opposite and actually in classical music they are completely against everything you do with growls. I started with classical, when you’re foundations are completely different to a thing you want to do it’s harder to change. 

In the beginning for our first album, I didn’t even want to think about doing growls. We have a guest in one song, Michael [surname] from Dark Tranquility doing growls because I didn’t want to do them. So for the last three or four years, I was doing a lot of lessons and I was working very hard with finding my own sound and stabilising it as once you find it, you need to be able to repeat it. That’s another tough thing to do. 

During this pandemic, how have you been passing the time? 

In the beginning, for the first two months I was doing almost nothing. I just mixed an EP at the studio, the rest of the time I was at home with my family. After the summer, it’s been the busiest year I have had so far at the studio. I think it’s to do with the fact that musicians cannot tour and play live. They turn back to the studios to record mainly because my studio has a different section for rehearsals, that part was not busy at all. The mixing and recording part of the studio however was very busy and I am busy to this day. June onwards, I was really busy at the studio. I didn’t have too much free time to be honest with you. We were more cautious with the lockdown precautions.

A lot of the festivals have been cancelled or postponed due to Covid but we can still have a dream line, which three bands would headline your dream festival?

I would have to say my top three bands at the moment would have to be Architects, Killswitch Engage and While She Sleeps. Also if I was on a tour with any of these bands or all of these bands, that would be my dream tour.

Have there been any albums that have stuck out so far this year?

I’m not following as closely to what’s being released this year because I am busy with my work at the studio and my band but I would have to say the new Architects album, I like that more than the previous one. The new Evergrey album is very nice. These two would have to be my favourite ones for now.

Do you have a message for fans and readers?

First of all, I have to say I wish for everyone to stay safe and be cautious until we reach that level we will be able to move like we used or at least the closest possible to that. After that, please check out the album and the singles. I really hope that touring will start as soon as possible, the whole band wants to return to England and play shows as soon as possible. 

Thank you so much Terry for taking the time to speak to Rock Out Stand Out and good luck with the album.

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