Sydney, Australia-based heavy metal trio Scythian Fate started their journey in 2012, and since then the band launched an EP ‘Drakaena Scythia‘ (2016), and earlier this year they have come up with a full-length debut titled ‘Matrimony in Madness.’ Guitarists Tom Kotsonis and Nino Morano, and singer Toby Heal spoke for Prog Sphere about their work.
Define the mission of Scythian Fate?
Tom: To play great kick arse metal that appeals across the genres and create our own unique signature sound. Whilst raised on a diet of classic, power, thrash, death and prog metal; we endeavour to avoid cliches and forge our own path. We want metal heads to listen and say “Fuck yeah that’s Fate”.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “Matrimony in Madness” and the themes it captures.
Tom: Scythian Fate is a very collaborative metal band. Nino and I worked very closely on the musical and thematic aspects of the album. When we started working on “Matrimony” we were looking for a vocalist. Once we recruited Toby, he introduced his aggressive vocal style that helped shape the final product.
The album opens with Crimson Snow which depicts Napoleon’s defeat in Russia and transitions into balkan ghosts; a tune which explores the political history and ethnic complexities of the balkans. From there it covers multitude of different themes, ranging from philosophical, religious bigotry, hypocrisy, media shock jocks and injustices in society.
What is the message you are trying to give with “Matrimony in Madness”?
Tom: The album’s defining message is a mosaic of the lunacy that surrounds us! We are all married to this madness that comprises society. The epic cover art by Ed Sleiman captures the essence of this theme. The Multi faceted images are entwined with subliminal messages, manifesting into the primordial beast as the centerpiece of the artwork. Ed’s masterpiece on canvass, portrays our lyrical and musical themes. There is an overarching architect behind this smokescreen of insanity.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
Tom: I cannot read music and tend to play by ear. When I create riffs l piece them together in various sequences with a specific theme in mind. The riffs live in my head for several weeks/months. Nino’s creative process is somewhat different to mine, where creates many riffs over the years and eventually finds a home for them. When we get together, we play our riffs to each other and assess their suitability. We then record a rough skeleton of the prospective song and keep it on digital files. It Also helps to video our riffs to help remember the fingerings on the fretboard. We then review it over the months and fine tune. Our approach is highly collaborative and we exchange and swap riffs to eventually mould the finished piece. Now with Toby onboard we will introduce him early on in the process and get his input as well.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
Tom: Absolutely! We spend an eternity working on the timings and musical dynamics of the pieces. We are very clear on the direction of the metal we want to play and we stick to our guns. Very careful consideration was given to the order of the tunes on the album as well to ensure there is a balanced flow of tempos and variation. We don’t want a jackhammer approach throughout the entire album. Tony Iommi’s philosophy of “light and shade” definitely applies here.
Describe the approach to recording the album?
Nino: Once we had selected which tracks to include on our album we worked on all the song structures first. Over time then we finalised all of the song structures for the selected music. Then we completed a series of demo versions of each track. When we were completely satisfied with all of that we got on with the actual final recording of the album. Firstly the drum tracks were recorded along with a pilot demo rhyme guitar track. The next step was to then record all of the bass guitar tracks. We then re-recorded all the fine tuned rhyme guitar tracks & harmonies to our liking. Then I completed all the lead guitar work. And then finally all the vocal tracks were recorded at the end to complete the process. The whole album was then mastered.
How long “Matrimony in Madness” was in the making?
Tom: Around three years all up including the artwork. A number of the songs were already in progress while we were completing our EP “Drakaena Scythia”.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
Toby: We all have similar tastes in metal but at the same time we’re very different. Tom is very keen on his teutonic thrash and death metal, Nino has very progressive leanings and I’m a big fan of folk metal and melodeath. For Matrimony in Madness the influences that shaped the album came strongly from bands like Kreator, Nevermore, Dream Theater and Death. Indeed our single, Echoes Of The Pharisee was written in tribute to the late Death frontman, Chuck Schuldiner.
What is your view on technology in music?
Nino: Well my personal view is that technology in music is a double edged sword. It has certainly made it more affordable and cheaper to record your own music in your own space. Whether that is in your bedroom or a small free space somewhere else. You can make some quite good recordings within a small home studio now. On the flip side though, it definitely hinders the music artists ability to sell their own music. Obviously this is because technology makes it easy to share music & download music illegally via peer to peer platform and torrent sites. All we as musicians who spend are lot of our time and effort making our music can hope for is that firstly; 1. If someone downloads our music for free and really likes what they hear, then they please support us by buying the music. 2. If they could like and follow us on social media platforms plus stream our music via Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, iTunes etc.… Every little bit helps self funded independent bands like us continue to make more music for our fans & supporters.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Tom: For sure! Our music is an attitude and a philosophy. We want to deliver thought provoking themes that stamp an impression on the listener. Our music, like all metal is a form of therapy and escape from the bullshit around us.
What are your plans for the future?
Toby: We are already hard at work writing songs for our next release. However, another big goal for us is to fill out the rest of our band and play some live shows. We’re excited for people to not only hear our music but to see us perform it live!
Nino: Yes we will keep trying to promote our ‘Matrimony In Madness’ album as much as we can into the future. Down the track we definitely would like to continue to record new material & as Toby also mentioned, complete our lineup and play some live shows.