With the departure of vocalist Christian Älvestam in 2008, Scar Symmetry is now back with 2 new vocalists Roberth and Lars, each handling harsh and clean vocals respectively. Already having 1 new album with this new lineup, we talk to Scar Symmetry founder Per Nilsson to learn more about the new album.
After the North American tour in May we’ve had some time off from the band. I’ve been busy with some other projects I’m involved with, and also spent a lot of time on the usual summer pastimes like hanging on the beach, drinking beers, stuff like that. We’ve just finished up the summer festivals season with shows in Finland, Hungary and Sweden, and now we’re going into writing-mode for the next album.
For Asian fans who are unfamiliar with Scar Symmetry, perhaps you would like to give a brief introduction to the band?
We formed the band in 2004, with the intention of doing our take on melodic death metal. We wanted to meld everything we love about metal together – old school death metal, shred guitar solos, huge choruses with harmony vocals, 80’s style guitar riffing… We’ve released four albums so far and toured Europe and North America several times.
The recent tour in support of your new album features bands such as Hypocrisy, Hate and Blackguard. How did this lineup come about?
Hypocrisy themselves offered us the direct support slot for the tour. We shared bus and crew with them and although formally we were a support act, they shared everything with us and treated us as a headliner band, very cool of them. I guess it was the booking agent that got the rest of the lineup together. It’s a kinda diverse lineup, which I think is cool. We’re going out with Blackguard again later this year, when we open for Epica in North America.
Dark Matter Dimensions features Roberth Karlsson and Lars Palmqvist on their debut appearance on a studio album. How have fans responded so far, after the departure of Christian Alvestam?
When we made public our decision to fire Christian from the band, a lot of people were disappointed, quite understandably. However, when we disclosed some of the reasons, most people seemed sympathetic to our decision, and mostly it seems like the fans are happy that we got back on our feet so quickly. There are more reasons to why we couldn’t work with Christian anymore that we probably won’t ever make public, but needless to say we wouldn’t have fired him if it wasn’t absolutely necessary for the band’s survival.
Have the introduction of 2 vocalists instead of having 1 vocalist handle both clean and growling vocals brought a new dimension to the band’s music?
I don’t think we’ve changed our style very much after recruiting two vocalists, however, when we write songs today, we have more freedom with the vocal arrangements, since we don’t have to think twice about how it’s going to work live. It most certainly has brought a new dimension to our live shows, Roberth and Lars really take it to a whole new level.
What was it that made the band decide to have 2 members handling vocals instead of doing it like previously, having 1 vocalist handle both growls and cleans?
We’ve had a dual vocals approach since day one, and while it sounds really good on the albums, it is very hard for just one guy to reproduce live. There’s not a lot of singers that pull it off, switching between clean vocals and growls night after night on tour. It’s very straining on the voice and for Christian, it was a struggle, and it’s the clean vocals that suffer the most. So as soon as we knew that we had to let Christian go, we started looking for two vocalists.
The music on Dark Matter Dimensions was handled by you, Jonas and Henrik. What about the lyrics on the album? The band’s usual lyrical concepts usually revolve around sci-fi and mysticism. Is Dark Matter Dimensions a continuation of the band’s exploration into this topic?
Henrik writes all of the lyrics, and it’s the same kind of themes as usual. A little bit of sci-fi, and a lot of mysticism. In my opinion Henrik is one of the best metal lyricists of today, he is absolutely brilliant.
Holographic Universe has often been hailed as the best album that Scar Symmetry has ever put out. When writing for this new album, has it ever been stressful to meet the fans’ expectations?
No we don’t really think of it like that. I guess in a way, each new album we write is a reaction to the last one. I kinda felt that Holographic Universe came out as a little bit over-produced and ‘soft’ sounding, I mean don’t get me wrong – I love that album, but when writing Dark Matter Dimensions, we were aiming for a darker and rougher sound, which I think we accomplished.
Speaking of influence, are there any particular influences to your style of playing?
My all-time favourite guitar player is Allan Holdsworth, his playing is so beyond everyone else. Other guitar players I’ve listened to a lot are Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Shawn Lane, the usual suspects really.
With an upcoming North American tour with Epica, Mutiny Within and Blackguard, what can fans expect to see?
Well first I must say that I think this is a really exciting lineup, I mean between Epica, Mutiny Within and Blackguard you’ll get a shitload of amazing music. I know from touring with Blackguard that they are really consistent performers – they put on a great show night after night, and they are cool people to hang out with also.
Having many Swedish bands such as The Haunted, Arch Enemy and Dark Tranquillity performing in Asia before, will there be any chances of seeing Scar Symmetry performing in Asia anytime soon?
There are some territories we’ve never been to that we would like to visit soon, like South America, Australia and of course Asia. It’s basically just a matter of timing and the right offer coming along. At this point in our career it would make a lot of sense going to Japan for example, we’ll see what happens! We’ve got our hopes up for sure.
After the touring cycle in support of Dark Matter Dimensions, what are the plans of Scar Symmetry?
We’ve started writing for a new album, so far we’ve got a few really progressive tracks and a few more basic “the illusionist”-type tracks, though I have no idea whatsoever today which songs are gonna be keepers and what the overall musical direction for the album will be. I’m looking forward to record with Lars and Roberth again, I think they have evolved a lot as singers since the last album and it’s going to be interesting to hear how that translates in the studio to our new songs. We haven’t decided yet on when to record the new album, but a 2011 release is a pretty safe bet.
We have come to the end of the interview. Are there any parting words to fans and critics out there?
Thanks for taking the time to check out our music, we sure appreciate the support we get from your part of the world. I really hope we’ll get to tour all over Asia one day, we’re keeping our fingers crossed!
Once again, thanks for taking the time off for this interview! On behalf of the crew, I wish you and the band all the best in the upcoming tours!
Thanks a lot!