Welcome to a new feature on Heavy Blog, “The Anatomy Of”. Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name — in which the band pays tribute to artists/bands that they feel have most inspired their songwriting — it’s a feature in which we hand off the metaphorical microphone to bands so they can talk about their influences. Read more entries from this series here.
This week, here for you, we have a treat: fantastic progressive metal outfit Existem! Hailing from Kansas City, Kansas (an important distinction from Kansas City, Missouri), these guys bring a healthy dose of arresting atmosphere into their pulverizing polyrhythms. It’s a combination that’s hard to say “no” to: these guys pull from a huge selection of influences to make music that never stops being diverse and intriguing. Here’s a cross-section (haha anatomy) of their tastes that provides insight into the brains behind this stellar band.
As A Band: Cloudkicker – Beacons
We as a band have pretty diverse tastes, but one artist we can all get behind in a big way is Cloudkicker. While we’re fans of all of Ben Sharp’s output, Beacons is the record that has made a major impact on both the development of our sound and ourselves as individuals, as musicians and just as people. It’s sprawling, massive, layered, heavy and beautiful in a way that spoke to us and inspired our music ever since we first heard it. We got to see Ben and Intronaut perform live on his tour last year and it only solidified our love for this record.
Ben Chipman (bass): vmod – a hundred cows mooin’
When we were first starting out as a band, we were fortunate enough to come into contact with a local musician named Anthony Richkas, who produced our first recordings. He acted as a sort of mentor to us, but he also made music of his own that was hugely influential on us. Don’t be fooled by the goofy title – a hundred cows mooin’ is a monster of a record. It’s one of the most emotionally expressive pieces of music I’ve ever heard, and it’s heavy as hell. Do you hear that bass? No, you feel it – it’s impossible to ignore. Hopefully this will give his record more exposure, it’s worthy of a much larger audience.
Brad Trinkl (guitar): System of a Down – Hypnotize
This is the album that started it all. The intro of the title track is the first melody I ever learned on guitar! I first heard Hypnotize in late 2006, when playing guitar was still new to me. About a year later, I came across an old used Ibanez Iceman at Guitar Center and I knew it had to be mine! Daron’s unique and simple-yet-effective riffing style was very appealing to me and still continues to influence my writing and playing today. I loved everything about it. The dueling vocals, in-your-face production and raw display of emotion kept me hooked from track one to track twelve. Now, almost ten years later, Hypnotize is still one of my favorites. I used that same Iceman to record all of Existem’s six string material up through the Phoenix EP.
Matthew Chipman (drums): The Fall of Troy – Doppelgänger
This is one of the first “hard” albums I’ve ever listened to. I first got into The Fall of Troy around 7th grade, after Ben showed me their crazy talent of writing and playing. Doppelgänger is still one of the few albums I go back to listen to for inspiration and I STILL find rhythm parts that I hadn’t fully figured out the other million times I’ve listened to it. I remember back before Ben and I were in Existem, we would play as much as “Laces Out, Dan!” as we could (we didn’t make it that far into it, honestly). But not being able to play a majority of this album just made me want to play it over and over again and try to play along with the drum parts. It’s made me a better drummer who thinks rather than just plays the parts. Plus, this album just gets me amped up as all get out.
Chris Gochis (vocals/guitar): Between the Buried and Me – Colors
For me, Colors was that record that solidified my love for progressive metal and made me realize what kind of band I wanted to be in. I was probably around 15 when I first heard this record and had only been playing guitar for a few years. Since I was still pretty new to music outside the mainstream, the way this album was written in terms of complexity and linear song structures was something that significantly impacted me as a musician and songwriter. I had just never heard anything like it. This record has been a huge influence not only on my guitar playing but also my vocal performances. Once I watched the live DVD of this record, I also learned that PRS makes my favorite guitar, and I finally got my own just a few months back!
To keep up with Existem, you can follow the band on Facebook! More importantly, make sure to check their music out on Bandcamp. You can stream their music or download it from Bandcamp at the very convenient Name Your Price option! Consider tossing the band a few bucks to encourage them to keep making more excellent tunes!
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