Interview with Shattered Sun vocalist Marcos Leal | By Nicholas Senior
Artists sometimes need to shift their perspectives to create a more realized vision, one that is truer to themselves. Such is the case for the fantastic sophomore record from Alice, Texas-based metal group, Shattered Sun. While their 2015 debut, Hope Within Hatred, mined the darkness for optimism, The Evolution of Anger—released via Victory Records on July 21—flips the script. Dealing with inner turmoil, personal confrontations with hatred and despair, and, of course, the veritable shitstorm that is life in 2017, Shattered Sun found themselves at a crossroads. Thankfully, they have come out the other side revitalized and ready to take on the world.
The Shattered Sun formula is pretty great: play a modernized and melodic form of metal that’s part groove, part thrash, and part melodeath. This new record seems to take every aspect of their sound to the next level. It’s like they’ve amplified everything, making the songs more anthemic. The instrumental work is more technical, and the riffs are fantastic.
Shattered Sun recently experienced such significant internal conflict that they almost burned the band to the ground. Instead, these problems—and the maturity to learn from past mistakes—lit the band’s creative fire. “It definitely fueled a lot of this record,” vocalist Marcos Leal confirms. “We were pissed off about a lot of things and basically took it out on each other. We were just in a bad spot, and it caused [guitarist] Daniel [Trejo] to leave for a little bit. We did some tours while he was gone and some writing, and even though we would have never have admitted it, we needed each other.”
“There was a lot of looking in the mirror and accepting our problems,” he continues. “The first song Daniel showed me was ‘Burn It Down,’ and I remember while I was sitting and listening to it, I immediately knew it was going to be the song that brought it all together. It, coincidentally, was his batch of songs that helped us start gluing our relationship back together, [get] back to talking and understanding each other, remembering we were friends, first and foremost. We used all that as the gasoline to keep this machine going and to turn things around. I know from day one of [preproduction], we sat in front of each other and basically pointed out all of the flaws in our music and each other and wanted to take it on the chin and own it.”
Naturally, Hope was a big theme of Shattered Sun’s debut, Hope Within Hatred, but this record drastically shifts that perspective. No longer willing to turn lemons into lemonade, Leal recognized he wanted to know why life kept shoveling him—and the world around him—so many damn lemons. “While on the road, and just in my everyday life, a lot had happened since I wrote Hope Within Hatred,” he explains. “I was a lot younger and more hopeful, you could say. A lot of things have happened to me from then to now that, like anyone else, would make you question things and your existence. I’ve had to bury friends and family members; I’ve looked in the face of death and seen the emptiness and uncertainty in it, seen the lies around it. I’ve seen racism and hate in its purest form, and on top of the internal problems in this band, it just made me look at things differently. I wanted to explore the darker side of my mind. I channeled it into every word, every grunt, and every breath. There was no way to fake the anger that came out on this record. It’s real, and this record was my therapy.”
Whether it’s the media, organized religion, or politics, The Evolution of Anger points the finger at several personal and societal frustrations, but Leal also dealt with the metaphysical. Two of its songs take an honest look at death and the afterlife. “All of these songs have a certain story behind them,” he shares. “One, for example, is the song ‘Hope Dies,’ which is titled that way for a reason. […] Looking into someone’s eyes and trying to comfort them when, in your heart, you don’t believe; it hurt me more than you can imagine. As I was standing in the back of that funeral home looking around at the pain and having someone tell you, ‘Just believe, they’re in a better place,’ that same old song and dance. It left me feeling hopeless. I came right home and wrote that song and tracked it the next morning. It was the theme for all the vocals.”
“‘Out for Justice’ is kind of the follow-up of me talking directly to God,” he adds. “Not saying I don’t believe, but I wanted to have a conversation with Him and invited everyone to hear my side of it. It was a very personal record for me. Every song is a way of calling out the truths in things that people are scared to talk about. I wanted to be the voice for the people in between.”
What lessons did Leal learn from all of this? “What I’ve learned from it is to be more involved,” he states, “don’t let [life’s struggles] consume you. The best advice I ever got was to live while I am alive and love as hard as I can, so that when my day comes, I can say I did what I wanted to do in this life and that I was the best I could be for everyone in my life. That’s what I want people to take away.”
The Evolution of Anger sounds like a mix of Darkest Hour’s crossover-melodeath and Atreyu’s love of arena anthems, with a wide range of cathartic material to boot. It’s like metalcore with powerful lyrics and entrancing breakdowns: all killer, no filler. Shattered Sun have truly shattered expectations—while conquering their own demons—with this impressive, triumphant record.
Photo by Jeremy Saffer