Interview Exclusive – Scar of the Sun

Scar of the Sun announced themselves as a force on the global progressive metal scene this year with their excellent third album and first for the mighty Napalm Records. The rich tapestry of their latest Inertia LP unites the best of melodeath, gothic metal and djent, yet it also pulsates with a strong dynamic spine, not to mention a wealth of anthemic choruses. These are exciting times for the Greek quintet, and they’re keen to capitalise on this new momentum after a decade of grinding away and never losing their self-belief.

It’s easy to see why Napalm Records snapped up the band in late 2019. Songs such as ‘The Fallible Experiment’, ‘Quantum Leap Zero I: Torque Control’ and ‘Zenith to Minos’ make for instant classics after just one listen. Labyrinthine guitars, ambient melodies and muscular vocals combine in a frenzy of emotion and contemplation, like a mouth-watering synergy of Tesseract, Paradise Lost and At the Gates. They managed to keep things below forty-five minutes for Inertia, but you know they’re at the beginning of a new chapter in their career after this record. The next album earns the the right to stretch beyond the one-hour mark if they choose to evolve in this manner.

We spoke to guitarist and songwriter, Greg Eleftheriou, to find out how a decade of hard work and resilience set the foundations for Scar of the Sun to reach this point in their career. But first we must begin in London…

Above: Chief songwriter and lead guitarist, Greg Eleftheriou.

Let’s start with the origins of the band. Scar of the Sun’s story is a unique one. You formed in London in the mid-2000s and relocated to Athens. How did you all meet in England, and why was it more advantageous for you to move back to Greece?

Greg Eleftheriou (guitars): Well, back in the day, the band members were all studying in London, they became friends and found out that they share the same taste in music. That’s how the idea of the band started out. Two out of the three members are still in the band, somehow – Terry, our singer, and Achilleas, who does all the visual work for the band. Terry moved back to Greece and Achilleas to Germany for reasons outside music. The positive thing is that with globalisation and the internet, you can manage a lot of things from wherever you are. Not all of them, but many of them. And until now, we can’t complain about how things are going with the band. The members are a lot different now, but the seed of Scar of The Sun was indeed planted in London.

Napalm Records released your latest album, Inertia. How did your deal with the label come about?

Greg: Actually, this is the second time we came in to contact with Napalm. As a band, we are always working on creating a better ground and circumstances for our music, and we believe Napalm is a great label to work with. Even though we didn’t manage to work together the first time, when we had Inertia in our hands, Napalm was very positive into signing us. We’re very happy that we have such a label behind us!

Oh, that’s interesting. How much of Inertia had you already recorded and mixed in the studio before you inked a deal with Napalm?

Greg: The album was one hundred percent completed when we contacted Napalm, I think. Actually, the album was ready a couple of years before its release. The reason is we believed we had a great album in our hands, and we wanted to make the most out of it. We wanted to give it the longest shot, sign with a record label that could support the needs of the band, and, of course, grow the reach of our music. So, the songs were already composed, recorded and mixed. To be honest, we are glad that we have Terry and Zero Gravity Studios, and we can make the final result completely on our own.

Yes, clearly, you believe in what you’re doing, and it’s great to see your hard work paying off. What is the secret to maintaining the same line-up since 2010?

Greg: We’ve played together with the guys for more than a decade, having toured and created enough to make a strong bond between us. We know each other so well, and we’ve managed to work on our differences. It’s not easy sometimes, but we always have the band’s music and potential as a motivation. This and the fact that the band keeps us moving forward is the glue between the five of us. I strongly believe that the band would be something completely different if one member of the line-up wasn’t there throughout this time.

Let’s talk about the progressive metal approach on Inertia. You have some anthemic choruses and inventive hooks, but it’s clear you wanted to take the listener beyond the verse-chorus structure on this record. Which artists and albums influenced Inertia?

Greg: Well, as I personally composed most of Inertia’s music, I can tell you that during the song-writing process, I wasn’t thinking of the songs as products but as a listening experience. I didn’t stay in the very first level of thought (“verse, then chorus, then verse again, etc.”), but I tried to dig in deeper and try different parts to finally shape a song that – in its final form – says something. I love the strong melodic elements of the band. That’s why all our choruses are very strong and melodic – they release the tension that some of the more rhythmic and progressive verses/bridges create. Music in my opinion is that. The relationship between tension and release. And with this mindset I will keep working on future material as well.

Themes of isolation, self-destruction and the heartache of betrayal appear throughout this record. The lyrics to the song, ‘I am the Circle’, are intriguing. “I nullified your hundred reasons/ Reject your motives to discard/ You’re falling short again this season/ And I am all you got.” What is this song about?

Greg: As a band, when you make records and you try to make your path into the music industry, you get rejections, you fail, you stand on your feet again and push your limits until you can make it. Throughout our journey, we fell and rose many times, learning from our mistakes and becoming stronger from how the industry works. ‘I am The Circle’ is a song for this journey of ours, how we stood against all odds and an overall comment on how the music industry works nowadays. It’s an intense song, music-wise, as well.

Another highlight of the album is ‘Zenith to Minos’. This one starts like Tesseract at their most introspective and then launches into a melodic death metal frenzy. Tell us how this song came into being.

Greg: I personally love Tesseract and the ambient tones in metal music. I am a post-rock fan as well, so the intro of the song came completely naturally. I wanted to create an ambient, slow and introverted introduction to the song. Then the next riff/theme was the exact opposite, like all the tension from the intro leading to the outburst of the next section. Big chorus again, the second verse is strong and melodic until we go to the outro, where the introverted side of the song strikes back. Generally, this album has a lot of guitar-oriented ambient elements and of course the heavy riffing that we love. Our sound, I think, is a combination of those elements.

Which additional musical instruments would you like to incorporate into your sound in the future?

Greg: From day one, we’ve had pre-recorded sounds and elements in our music. We use a lot of electronic sounds along with the riffing and the guitar melodies. Sometimes, I think that these sounds could be an album on their own! That means we don’t really miss specific instruments from our music. I think in the future, we might incorporate some other instruments apart from the synths we use, but time will tell!

What impact has signing with Napalm Records had on the way the media recognise you in your home country?

Greg: We live in a small country where almost everyone knows each other, especially in the metal scene. Some people love us, some don’t, but that’s how things are in general. It is a huge success for a Greek metal band to sign with Napalm. A lot of people from the local media shared the enthusiasm and showed their support, which is really beautiful, and we thank them for it. To be honest, I felt that a couple of the bigger local media outlets could show more support as this event has happened no more than ten times in our country’s history, but never mind. The majority of media and fans are crazy about the news, and so are we!

The modern musician cannot rely on one income stream to survive these days. How do Scar of the Sun plan to survive as a band in an ever-changing industry?

Greg: Hopefully, every member of the band has formed his life in order to have a stable income (as possible as it can be nowadays) and at the same time to be able to support the band’s needs. In the band, I personally am the only professional musician, and I manage to live through many musical activities from teaching, composing and sometimes performing. We know things are very hard for us to survive from the band’s music, but we were ready for this, so we’ve come prepared. At the same time, we’re in favour of any activities that support the increase of the artists’ income from their music, especially through streaming, which is nowadays very popular.

Which of the following remains your most cherished dream and why?

  1. Having a tour bus to drive you around the world
  2. Reaching 1,000,000 monthly Spotify listeners
  3. Appearing at Hell Fest
  4. Winning a MAD Video Music Award in your home country of Greece

Greg: I would choose A. Because that would mean to play in front of a lot of people, sharing our music with them. Moreover, we would see so many different places, people and cultures, which is a very interesting thing in touring. Performing your music live is the ultimate expression of our band, and we’re really looking forward to doing it as much as we can.

Final question: We’ve had to wait five years between each of your three albums starting from 2011. What assurances can you give your fans that the wait for the next record won’t be as long?

Greg: I know what you mean and trust me, we are on the same page! The reason behind this time in between our releases is that we tried to find the best ground for our releases, not because we didn’t have the music ready. But now we have Napalm Records, and we are in a more favourable position than before. We are already working on new songs, and we really believe that the fans (and us) won’t wait that much until our next album!

*** Scar of the Sun released Inertia via Napalm Records on 14 May 2021. You can read the original SBR review here.