The fantastic progressive metal band Chaosbay returns with a new EP called “Boxes”. With it, the young German band continues to blur any border between genres, delivering a forceful EP that manages to find a precious balance connecting a demanding and an accessible soundscape. As a result, the listener can expect crushing riffs, rumbling breakdowns, and highly technical musicianship that blends with a tender and melodic approach. “Boxes” is the meeting point between opposing sounds, in which Chaosbay achieves a careful mix that results in a collection of bangers contained in a serious candidate for best metal EP of the year.
In order to delve into what “Boxes” has in store for the listener, correspondent Brian Masso had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Jan Listing, singer, guitarist, and mastermind behind the rising and ambitious prog metal band Chaosbay. First, they talked about some general aspects of the band, such as how it came to life, their main influences, their sonic direction, and what they seek to transmit with the contrasts presented throughout their discography. In addition, they spoke about their two studio albums and some aspects derived from them, as the concept behind their debut album or the reception of their critically acclaimed sophomore record “Asylum”. Besides, they commented on some aspects surrounding the band’s latest EP, “Boxes”, as if making an EP was the original target, the creative and writing process behind it, how collaborative it turned out, and the musical direction chosen for it. Finally, they discussed some details regarding Chaosbay’s future, including touring plans and if more music is coming our way any time soon, among other topics.
Read the full interview below, and make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.
Chaosbay is one of the most exciting up-and-coming progressive metal bands of the moment, and a personal favorite of mine. However, I am confident that the band has not reached its deserved audience. There are still people out there who would be captivated by Chaosbay but are still not aware of what they are missing. So, considering the above, I would like to initiate our interview with some general questions about the band so those readers that are not familiar could get a general idea of the band.
How did Chaosbay come to life?
We founded the band in 2012 at the university. We all studied music and it was part of the curriculum to form a band. After we played only as part of our studies, we quickly discovered that we worked really well together and our music had potential. So we decided to make more out of it and we are happy that we are still together after all these years.
Who are its members, and what role do they play within the band?
Patrick Bernath is one of the two remaining founding members. His drumming is amazing and has become a big part of our sound. He also edits some of our videos and he is the programmer of our lighting setup on stage. Matthias Heising is our bassist and incredible backing vocalist. He is an outstanding multi-instrumentalist and producer. Alex is our guitarist, probably the most energetic and charismatic person on stage and responsible for our merchandising. I am Jan, the founding singer and main songwriter of the band. I also produce our music and did the band management over the last years.
(c) by Julia Mastaliers, @lightinmirror.de
What are the band’s main musical influences?
In our early years, we were very influenced by classic Prog-Metal bands like Dream Theater, Opeth, Pain of Salvation and Porcupine Tree, as well as the Nu-Metal bands we grew up with: Limp Bizkit, Linking Park, Incubus. Later (and until today) our influences changed to Djent and Metalcore (Periphery, Tesseract, Twelve Foot Ninja).
Overall, how would you describe Chaosbay’s sound?
I think the obvious thing would be hard-hitting riffs, brutal sounds, complex and virtuoso song structures combined with epic and catchy melodies. A big part is also that we tend to do concept albums, so themes and motifs are recurring all the way through our music.
Chaosbay presents quite a captivating series of contrasts. From the use of a soft voice with harsh vocals to subtle atmospheres with heavy and intricate passages, the EP is full of nuances that enrich its depth and dynamism thanks to such contrasts. What does the band seek to convey with such contrasts?
Our music should be an exciting experience. A whole different bunch of emotions should be transferred with an album or a concert. That’s the main goal. We never want to bore our listeners and, really good music – for us – is always surprising and gaining its strength through that balance between hard and soft. Best of both worlds, always, haha.
Now, I want to focus on Chaosbay’s discography for the next section. So far, the band has released two albums, the debut record “Vasilisa” and the critically acclaimed “Asylum” (see our review of the album here).
What are some of the musical propositions that the listener can find within “Vasilisa“?
This album revolves around a few but very catchy melodic motifs, that are always recurring. Our fans always tell us that it is so much fun for them to discover all the different spots in the album where these melodies are hidden. That, and an epic and classic rock/metal sound is the main asset of the record.
Could you describe in a general way the concept behind the album?
The musical concept is a progressive metal journey through all these said motifs. Lyrically, it tells the story of an old Russian fairytale that I knew as a child, ¨Vasilisa the Beautiful.¨ It deals with a girl that is cursed and three brothers searching for love in their lives.
Recently, the band released the remastered version of “Vasilisa”. What led you to make such move?
After years we felt that the great production of this record (done by Dani Weber, bassist of the band The Intersphere) deserved a way better mastering sound than it originally got back in the days. So it could be better listened to in combination with our newer releases, because musically it is just as great. Second of all, we never released it physically, so we took the chance to press CD with the new master so that people can buy the record properly, with a great artwork and sound.
It’s time to talk about the superb band’s sophomore record, “Asylum”. Such album appeared on our 2020 Favorite Progressive Metal Albums ranking, and it also became my favorite record of such year. “Asylum” is a statement of Chaosbay’s undisputed chops, worthy of praise and recognition among music enthusiasts. It also shows the band’s potential to become a leading force within the progressive metal scene in the years to come.
How do you feel about the way “Asylum” turned out?
It is still great. It turned out amazing both musically and economically for us as a small band. It definitely exceeded our expectations and turned our to be a thing that we will be very proud of for many years. We still do not regret a single thing we did on the record.
With more than a year since its release, has your perception of the record change somehow?
Not really, still love it, still super proud of it. If any, with more time passing by, I can see better how great things worked together on this album. Thanks to everyone involved.
(c) by Julia Mastaliers, @lightinmirror.de
What do you think about “Asylum’s” reception?
I mean, it was amazing. So many people are reaching now to us, telling us, that this will always be their AOTY 2020 and we feel really honored about that. And still people are discovering the record and it is quickly becoming their favorite, which is pretty cool. We could not be more happy and thankful that it touched so many people.
“Asylum” explored the refugee crisis that exploded in Europe some years ago. So how important is it for the band to explore relevant issues that reflect the human condition?
Very important. After a few albums/EPs writing about fiction or autobiographic topics, I felt it is more important to write about things that need to be said out there. Will always be a part of our music.
Looking into what the band has in store for 2022, we find that Chaosbay is set to release their latest EP “Boxes”, on January 13th, 2022.
Was making an EP the original goal when the band started to write the new songs?
Even less! We originally wanted to put out a few single song releases to gain more power on streaming platforms, which is easy with single songs. Then we met our current record label Circular Wave records and we all got the idea of making a really strong 5-track-EP to bundle these singles and have a great mixture of single releases and an album.
Why did you choose to record an EP instead of saving the songs for an album?
We did not want to wait so long until we put new material out. Nowadays a band has to release more material in shorter time than before to stay relevant. Plus, the songs themselves do not sound like ¨album tracks¨. They are pretty much raging monsters that stand for themselves. They were written to be singles and tell a story on their own.
(c) by Julia Mastaliers, @lightinmirror.de
For now, the EP will be out on digital. Are there any plans to make it available in a physical form?
Not at the moment, but we are still brainstorming (wink).
Could you share some insights about how Boxes came to life?
It was pretty clear that after “Asylum” we wanted to keep our band relevant (especially because we could not play live due to COVID), so we knew we could not wait too long to release new material. That’s why we did it. And after so many concept albums and EPs I really wanted to write some super catchy single songs that tell the story very fast and this felt pretty different to writing concept stuff. So it was fun to play around with that and try to work in smaller dimensions, which turned out to sound way heavier, yet catchier that ever before.
How was the creative/writing process of the EP, and how collaborative turned to be?
It was the first time that I started writing together with the other band members, which was pretty fun. After such a long time playing together everyone had the same vision of our sound and so many new and cool ideas came to life doing that. We also took way more time in finding the right melodies, riffs and arrangements than before. We wanted each song to be as perfect as possible. No nonsense, clear messages, no unnecessary elements anymore, just pure Chaosbay. That was the goal to really filter out our uniqueness.
How would you describe the musical direction displayed on “Boxes, and how does it differ from your previous work?
As I said: way more brutal, lower guitars, heavier riffs and even more catchiness in the vocal lines. We wanted to to push these things to the extreme.
Your previous albums were conceptual albums that dwelled on specific topics. Is “Boxes” a collection of unrelated tracks, or are there some common themes among them?
There is a connection lyrically. The EP revolves around being human in a digital world how fast you can be lost in it. Social media is captivating, sometimes in a scary way, and that is something each of these songs deals with from its own perspective.
“Y”, the second single taken from “Boxes”, has become Chaosbay’s most-streamed song. Do you consider that such fact is an indicator of the expected impact of “Boxes”?
We hope so. With every new release, we hope to reach more audience, like every artist does. But ¨Y¨ already exceeded our expectations so much, that we are pretty happy now and everything now is just a great bonus to what we already achieved.
Finally, I want to focus on Chaosbay’s future after the release of “Boxes”.
What can we expect from the band after “Boxes” is out? Are there any plans for a new record?
Yes. And pretty soon actually.
Unfortunately, the Boxes Tour 2022 was canceled due to the pandemic. Once you can reschedule them, are there any plans to bring your music to other countries?
We will reschedule all the dates to October. Right now we try to focus on Germany and some neighboring countries. We will announce the new dates in the next weeks.
Has a US tour been considered?
Not yet. But we hope to have the chance to play there someday. Preferably as a support act for another band at first and after that: Maybe.
Here at Sonic Perspectives, we thank Jan for his time in taking part in this interview, and we wish the band a very successful release.