Scar of the Sun, the 5-piece metal outfit from Athens, Greece, dropped their third full-length album, “Inertia” last May. Fans were teased to the new material as early as March, and consequently they were aching for more. The single “I Am the Circle” was widely lauded, and for good reason. It’s a powerful track, melding modern themes of metal with some older-fashioned elements.
“Inertia”, an 11-track offering, was released in May, and whilst there were a few things I couldn’t fully praise, the release as a whole is an enjoyable and worthwhile listening experience.
This album, just like the band’s previous ones, was recorded and mixed by Scar of the Sun’s vocalist Terry Nikas. However, compared to the band’s previous release, 2016’s “In Flood”, I found the mix to be nowhere near as powerful and dense. The guitar tones and vocals are clear, as are the drums and bass, but the overall sound lacked a certain heaviness that would have certainly helped to delivery some of the heft that the band was endeavoring to put forward.
The title track “Inertia” was my favorite track of the record. It’s wildly catchy, the lyrics are intelligent and well thought-out, and the whole band is performing at their best. I had one unpleasant thought, though. As it’s the opening track (not including the instrumental introduction “Hydrogen”), the band may have potentially shot themselves in the foot, as the bar was set so high for the rest of this album that I was rather deflated when I realized that my favorite track was the first one. With that being said, that didn’t prevent me from enjoying nearly all of the tracks that are on offer in “Inertia”.
For Scar of the Sun’s latest release, the guitar is the most superb component, without question. Some of the riffs were textbook metal and metalcore-themed, immediately bringing me back to early albums from bands like At the Gates, Trivium and even As I Lay Dying, and I loved it. The opening riff to “Quantum Leap Zero II: Transition to Turbulence” is an absolute blast straight out of the gate, and it’s a great demonstration of what makes this style of metal so addictive to listen to. The opening track “Hydrogen” is a haunting soundscape brought to us in the form of a lofty guitar motif that hits us with intermittent notes, ringing out over a layer of swirling synths that gradually build until we’re hit with a few short but aggressive strikes from the band.
The guitars are played expertly by Alexi Charalampous and Greg Eleftheriou, and contain a large range of diverse sounds and styles. The solo performances are impressive and skillful. “Inertia” has a fantastic performance from the guitars in the sequence before the last chorus. “Quantum Leap Zero I: Torque Control” has a fantastic final solo as well. The riffs are precise and catchy, and the chorus riffs are solid, undoubtedly carrying the energy of the band’s performance.
Unfortunately the guitars aren’t immune to the issue of lower strength and thickness in the mix than what exists in “In Flood”. Some of the heavier sections, such as the beginning of “The Fallible Experiment”, or the pounding rhythm at the end of the huge track “Anastasis” are slightly held back in their impact by the guitars that do their best to execute the riff.
Panagiotis Gatsopoulos takes care of bass duties, though I felt that his efforts were much more recognized on “In Flood”. When compared to the 2016 release, Gatsopoulos’ presence on this release was exhibited in the form of a relatively modest and underwhelming undertone, and on hearing his contributions to the tracks, I was certainly wishing for a slightly more aggressive or more present sounding bass in the mix to truly show off his talent.
Nikas’ vocals are, more or less, hit and miss for me. Once again, I felt more power and projection in previous albums, especially when it came to screaming. Maybe it’s the mixing of the vocals that removes a bit of weight from them, but I was constantly feeling like the screams were held back or restrained in a way that often prevented them from adding an extra layer of power to the release.
The variance in his purely harsh vocals is relatively narrow, though I absolutely loved when he went higher in “Inertia”, screaming “you will be betting on a dead horse again”. It would be awesome to hear more of this in future releases.
The lack of aggression in the screams really hurt the final track, “Anastasis”. It’s so emotionally heavy in theme and lyric, and that wasn’t displayed by the vocals until the very end in an interlude just before the end sequence. Those screams are so raw and emotional, so perfect for the heaviness of the song, yet unfortunately they were a fleeting moment. I can only deeply hope there is more vocal performances in this style from Nikas in the next release. The gravelly singing, however, was nothing short of delightful. I heard some Metallica elements in his vocals at times, especially in moments like the powerful harmony in the final chorus of “Inertia”.
Nikas’ clean vocals were, in my view, also up and down. Most choruses had a really enjoyable melody, and some vocal parts were powerful and well sung, especially the end of the second chorus to “Quantum Leap Zero I: Torque Control”.
The use of a quick punchy staccato melody for the first verse for “Quantum Leap Zero III: Thrust”, then a long and drawn out alteration of the same melody for the second verse was a very small yet detailed change for the track which was a fantastic addition to the song. It’s little things like this throughout the album that made me appreciate the songwriting capability of the band.
The chorus to “The Fallible Experiment” was something I eventually ended up not being a fan of. The lyrics are a tad generic, as is the melody, and the actual vocal performance slightly rubbed me the wrong way. Unfortunately, after listening through the album multiple times, it became a song that I ended up skipping.
“Oxygen” has a gorgeous first section, slow and steady, yet melancholic in its beauty. This is definitely where Nikas shows us his control over his dynamic range. It also has a stunning vocal performance from guest vocalist Chrysa Tsaltabasi. Her voice hangs over the hook at the end and it’s stunningly powerful, easily one of my preferred moments on the album.
The drums are almost precisely what they need to be for this record; competent and intelligent. Some technical rhythms and patterns are thrown around in this album, such as the opening section in “Quantum Leap Zero I: Torque Control”. Other times it’s just a good old fashioned metal thrashing, and these are performed ever so naturally by Thanos Pappas. “Inertia” contains some commendable performances for Pappas, but he shows off his gentle side across various moments throughout the album as well. “Zenith to Minos” has an enchanting and gentle opening section, and the snare drum rings out into the distance with each hit making the sonic space in that moment feel endless.
In essence, I’m afraid to say that “Inertia” isn’t the album that will top “In Flood”. Whilst it’s a highly enjoyable addition to the Scar of the Sun discography, it doesn’t deliver the sonic power, compositional variance and performance required to truly overtake the high quality album that came before it.
Released On: May 14th, 2021
Released By: Napalm Records
Genre: Modern Metal
- Terry Nikas / Vocals
- Alexi Charalampous / Guitar
- Greg Eleftheriou / Guitar
- Panagiotis Gatsopoulos / Bass
- Thanos Pappas / Drums
- I Am the Circle
- Quantum Leap Zero I: Torque Control
- Quantum Leap Zero II: Transition to Turbulence
- The Fallible Experiment
- Quantum Leap Zero III: Thrust
- Singularity Collapse
- Zenith to Minos
Scar of the Sun have definitely thrown some striking and memorable moments into “Inertia”. Whilst it succeeds in delivering some truly enjoyable tracks, it doesn’t live up to the exemplary album that preceded it. With that being said, I’m confident that fans of the band will look past this and appreciate “Inertia” as a fun and satisfactory release.