Metalcore to the core
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“Loud like a locomotive but smooth like water.”
This is how Marion-based metalcore band Controvert describe their sound according to vocalist Chris Isaacs.
With influences from a decade or more in the past like Poison the Well and Norma Jean, the band enlists their many years devoted to their instruments to bring a little bit of heavy to the greater Fort Wayne area.
Keeping a Cohesive Sound
“As far as style goes, we knew right away what we wanted to go for,” Isaacs said. “We have all done this before. It was just figuring out the tonality of it to bring it up to date. We still wanted to do it our way. The idealism of this band hasn’t changed at all, but the sound definitely has. A lot of that has to do with us listening to new bands constantly. If you don’t listen to all kinds of bands, as a band, you’re missing out.”
Not only does consuming new music and having a style to strive for help a band establish its sound, but nowadays gear is a quintessential piece of any bands’ artistic process. One new piece of equipment, even (or especially) if it’s super old, can spark inspiration where there was none.
The routine of everyday life can dampen the creative process musicians go through, but with continuous updates via the internet, musicians can regularly see every new instrument or every long-forgotten guitar pedal in real time.
With Controvert, they focus their gear to get a cohesive sound, whether it’s through headphones or amps.
“Our gear has to be even,” Isaacs said. “Many bands are using direct-in app profiling systems, but some of the best recordings that have happened are not on that kind of wavelength. I heard ‘Foxy Lady’ by Jimi Hendrix when I was 12, and you could really hear the heat in the tubes, and it sounded even on each side. Nothing beats that.
“You know you’ve really tapped into your band’s sound when what you play live sounds like your record. Whether you’re hearing us live or listening to our record, we want that to be the Controvert sound. Our gear plays a huge part in that.”
All About the argument
Though the band has a unified style, Isaacs, guitarist Benjamin Dickman, bassist Alec Gerard Horngren, and drummer Kevin Cox aren’t trying to paint themselves into any corners. A lot of bands have another particular band’s sound that they chase, but not everyone has a theme or a ploy.
Controvert lacks any said theme, and that’s on purpose. But they do have a message, even if it’s self-titled and straightforward.
“We aren’t a themed band, nor do we have any underlying motive,” Isaacs said. “However, our name speaks for us. Controvert: to argue against, dispute, deny or oppose, to argue about, debate or discuss. That’s who we are and what we’re about, those hard truths no one wants to bring to light, the heavy stuff that needs dug up and talked about that no one wants to do that anymore.”
Though the band lacks a motif, they make up for it in effort and establishing goals aimed towards the betterment of themselves and their audience.
These goals are almost the yang to the band’s namesake yin. Where the focus is disputing and opposing, it is also about change and growth.
“Our overall goal as a band is to do something that creates change in someone’s life,” Isaacs said.
“We want to be able to tell our stories and say we made something that had an influence on someone’s life or hit on an area in their life that nobody has ever hit on before. I want to continue my endeavors no matter what obstacles are in my way. We all share the idea that Controvert is more than just us. That’s why we say ‘This Is Controvert’ because it’s all of us.”
Taking away the facades
“That’s what hardcore is, taking away all of our facades and cliches to rid ourselves of our shell and stand with one another and realize we’re all here for the same reason,” Isaacs said.
“I have heavy vocals, but I really want to make sure it means something. I don’t do this to look cool. I do this because I’ve struggled, but I’ve made it through. And unlike everyone in the world, I have the platform to talk about it with a microphone. Having that power and using it to relate to peoples’ life experiences and hardships is the main reason we do this as a form of art.”
Though theme and message go hand-in-hand, for the most part, there is a clear distinction between following a particular path and having a certain story to tell.
That story, when in the company of those you trust and share the most with, can transform worlds and bind people together through pure individualism.
“The message: you should never have to feel uncomfortable talking about things that bother you around your friends,” Isaacs said. “I think a lot of times young people run around this world having to raise themselves, thinking this certain group of people have to think a certain way about them. Whatever you do, whomever you are as a singular person is more powerful than being like somebody else.”
As of right now, you can find Controvert’s new video, Lord Betrayer, on YouTube. The single is available on their Bandcamp page at controvert.bandcamp.com. You will soon be able to find their music on all platforms.
“You can always get our music online, and that’s great, but if I were you, I’d be a cool person and come to a live show,” Isaacs said. “That way, you can see us and get that intimate Controvert experience.”