Sometimes when you listen to a lot of Metal it can be possible to feel jaded with things which are of a similar vein and then just when you thought you had it all figured out, a band of experienced musicians comes along like Vanitas and completely blows your tiny mind. No strangers to the Metal scene they took inspiration from vast-spanning JRPG soundtracks and the raw energy of modern metal riffs, combining them to form something they’ve coined as epic Cinematic Djent and the result is something really special. But don’t take our word for it, if you haven’t already, go and check it out for yourself and then come back to this first of two interviews with the band if you no other reason than they need to be heard to be believed!
How have you found the reaction to your self titled debut EP so far?
Jade: “Incredible! You spend so long listening to these songs on a loop that it almost feels surreal when they go out into the world. We’ve had such a heartfelt response- in particular to the message behind track 3. “Carry On” which personally warms my heart!”
Elijah: “Yeah! the reaction has been overwhelming, it’s been so nice to hear what the fans think of it and I’ve been blown away by the positive impacts that it’s had”
Jon: “I am very proud of this EP and seeing so many people at our EP launch gig honestly nearly made me cry with happiness!”
Marc: “Oh, and It’s nice when people know your song’s lyrics”
Mitch: “It’s completely and utterly blown my mind. This EP started to me when I first started on ghostly coast during a time where I was heavily considering taking a long, long break from music. This EP and it’s reaction, has completely blown me away and made me so happy I never gave into my own doubts”
Your line up comprises former members of Verb The Noun and Aramantus. What made you decide to create a new band and start over rather than relaunch one of those bands with a new line up?
Mitch: “Aramantus was out of the question, as stylistically this project is vastly different in nature; reviving such a long dead project with an almost completely different style wouldn’t have been a smart move. With Verb The Noun, I was the one who made up that name and ultimately pushed for a rebrand; while I still think it is a semi-creative joke, it never should’ve been a serious projects name, so a rebrand was called for and thusly, Vanitas was created”
Jade: “And with Elijah joining the former Verb The Noun line-up it just seemed right!”
If we’re the product of our genes and influences, what is in your genes and who are the influences that helped create Vanitas?
Jade: “Personally, I love a lot of modern prog-metal such as Periphery, Monuments, Spiritbox- stuff like that, but I take my inspirations from all sorts of places- I love me some Jazz Fusion, old school trad metal, math rock and musical theatre too”
Mitch: “So, I’ve always had an obsession with Japanese media. Anime music and Japanese role playing games(JRPGs) have always had such incredible music to me, particularly on the JRPG side. I’ve always wanted to go all in with over the top orchestra and melodies inspired by JRPG composers like Nobuo Uematsu(final fantasy), Yoko Shimomura(kingdom hearts) and Shoji Meguro (Persona.) Outside of this massive effect on the orchestral side and my lead playing, my general guitar playing is mainly inspired by Mark Holcomb of Haunted Shores, Plini, Jesper Strömblad, previously of In Flames and recently Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. Holcomb has heavily influenced my ear for chord voices in particular, and alongside Jesper has given some of my riffs what I perceive as a melodic death metal style tinge(entire of ghostly coast to me has that melodic death metal, black metal feel). Plini has vastly influenced the more Disney aspects of my writing (Carry On) and Mikael had influence ghostly coast heavily, and I wish to channel some more of the Opeth vibe in the future with more acoustic vibes”
Elijah: “Everything prog and djent related, from my perspective it’s been a lot of the instrumental side so bands like Polyphia, Intervals, Plini etc have really helped my musical direction”
Jon: “I would be a mixture of Devin Townsend, vulfpeck, and Kevin from awaken eternity. For the influences that helped create vanitas there is a lot of anime soundtracks and periphery with mixtures of every djent band to ever exist”
Marc: “Not much other than Chris Adler and Matt Garstka when it comes to metal to be totally totally honest. Everything is is from Fusion. But those two boys have pretty much shaped the entire drumtrack on these albums”
One of the great things about your debut EP is how the anguished clean vocals of Jade Marissa Grundy contrast against the heavier and yet equally beautiful music. Looking into your crystal ball do you foresee any unclean vocal moments on future recordings or any acoustic songs as extremes push out?
Jade: “Oh definitely! Harsh vocals is something I’ve wanted to develop for a long time, it’s just finding the time and resources to achieve it really. I sing professionally and so need to pace myself when learning something as risky as harsh vocals but it’s something I’m slowly chipping away at and improving with which hopefully shows in ‘Breaking Illusions’ breakdown!”
Mitch: “I would LOVE to go into both extremes. On this EP, there are some tracks that ended up not making the cut that are pure technical death metal filth that we’ve shelved to potentially revisit when Jade feels more comfortable with her harsh vocals. On the acoustic front, I adore the sound of Opeth and Porcupine tree usage of acoustic guitars, and really want to channel that in the future of our music. I never want to feel constrained to sticking to a certain sound, and always want to be adventurous. Maybe one day we’ll release a musical theater-esqe number like Why by Devin Townsend”
Lyrically the EP is something of a rollercoaster of emotions and very personal. Did you feel a sense of catharsis in letting those demons out?
Jade: “Catharsis is a great way to put it! For me personally, the underlying theme of this EP’s lyrics is a look at ‘firsts’ within adulthood and since graduating for me. ‘Ghostly Coast’ looks at my experience with my first full-time job and entering the ball ache which is 9-5 capitalism. ‘Breaking Illusions’ is looking at first heartbreak and dealing with disappointment from previous relationships. ‘Carry On’ is all about my first proper experience of grief and how I learnt from that and then ‘Vanitas’ wraps it all up in a neat bow- a message of hope and celebrating overcoming hardships with the help of chosen family and music of course!”
What’s next for Vanitas?
Elijah: “Gigs, gigs and more gigs! Just focusing on getting the name out there really and promoting as much as we can”
Mitch: “We’re also gonna continue background writing until we have enough material for what is hopefully an album next year”
Jade: “We’ve got dreams in our heads and rough notes of plans to make them a reality. But for now I think our focus is getting ourselves out there with live shows but you can definitely expect some more tunes following that!”
“Self Titled” by Vanitas is out now and available over at bandcamp