Photo Credit to Roderick van den Brink Article/Q&A by Megan Vinesberg
Picture this: A one-man metal band. Crazy, right? Roderick van den Brink is the sole producer of the incredible project, “Ascent,” released on May 4 to rave reviews. Van den Brink comes to us all the way from the Netherlands, and I think he’s an artist to keep on your radar. The music video for this song was shot by a video production company, but features Roderick on vocals and all instruments. To top it off, Roderick creates the treatments for all of his music videos. You really cannot beat that kind of craftsmanship and dedication. In going back over the song, I still could not get over how professional the sound quality is on this track [Ascent]. The visuals are absolutely mesmerizing. Steven Walker of Steven In Stereo on Youtube says, “If you didn’t know any better, you might think this was different band members all throughout.” He also voiced that he would have liked to see some harder-hitting vocals towards the end, such as screaming, growling, or grunting--and I have to say, I agree! It’s the one thing that I feel would have tied the song together in the end. As we saw with our The Very Best of… Metal+ playlist, there’s typically several members in these bands, even multiple on the same instrument. Nevertheless, it’s not often that this kind of act comes around and turns the tide.
I loved the darker theme of “Ascent” throughout, and how each instrument led up to the next. In the intro, as well as in the break, I heard some similarities in the arrangement to Bayside, and Silverstein, which I loved as a teenager in high school. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a fan like myself. The official video has just over 400 views but I could easily see this being a favorite to fans of metal and other subgenres. The themes throughout were fascinating. It reminded me of one such song, my latest single, “In This Space,” in the way of letting go of control, releasing what holds you back, and stepping into who you were always meant to be. “Ascent” represents, to me, being able to ride the wave of life. It will take you on a journey every time. It only gets rockier, the tighter your grip. We are at our best when we allow things to come and go, being in flow state rather than attachment to whatever outcome we think should happen, or that we think we deserve. Sometimes, what ends up coming to us is better than what we anticipated. Other times, it’s about having the awareness to see the light through the fog. The path to ascension is unique to all of us but it’s representative of shedding old skin (programming and belief systems, behavior patterns) to become our best selves.
After “Ascent,” I was quite intrigued! I wanted to know if Van den Brink had other releases, and I came across “Dark Skies,” which gave me Deftones vibes, taking me back in time. I was all the way here for it! I loved the cinematography--the usage of colors, playing on shadows and light leaks. The strobe light effect almost makes it feel it as if you’re watching him live. For the time being, we can dream, can’t we? If you’re a regular reader of Borderless Melodies, you know I can’t resist a good synth--and that intro is packed with ‘em! The rhythm of this song was infectious, and I found it stuck in my head long after I had listened to it. Again, Van den Brink’s sound is so familiar, and yet it’s unlike anything I’ve heard before. Needless to say, he’s got a bright future ahead of him--I mean, Roderick writes (and produces) his own songs, he is skilled in multiple instruments, and he knows his way around a camera--with professionally shot content under his belt.
I couldn’t wait to dive into Roderick’s next release. “The Monster We Love” is a collaboration between him, and musician/reviewer Bogdan Punyak of Hard Core on Youtube. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were hard-hitting vocals on this track. It was just what I knew it needed! Flawless in performance, Roderick’s sound is already polished to perfection. However, this collaboration really brought some value to the table. I’m not huge on collaborations as they can, at times, take away from what the original idea of the song, or even be of no value to the song when added. That was not the case here, as we can see. Punyak has that edge I was listening for on “Ascent.” If you need me, I’ll be playing “Monster We Love,” on repeat!
Q & A
MV: Why a one-man-band rather than a full line up?
RVDB: That’s a bit two-fold. First, I have a full time job and it is just easier to manage the time to write and record music when it’s just me. [winks] I have been in bands —- writing together and coordinating practice is awesome, but it is very time-consuming.
Second, I really enjoy composing an entire song with every instrument in mind. It is no longer about the best guitar riff, or most complex drum fill, but it’s about the total sound and about songwriting. That is what I really want to get good at. I think I have learned more about music in the past year than in all the years I have played in bands.
MV: How did you get your start in music?
RVDB: I started when I was 13/14. I started with electric guitar lessons. I did not even own an electric guitar but my teacher lent me a handmade one and I was sold. A few friends were also playing guitar at that time and we started a band. We recorded a guitar only album in the attic of my friend’s house, and things progressed from there. One of my friends switched to drums and the other to bass and I did the vocals and guitar. That’s how our first real band was formed. After some time, there were line-up changes and I had started to play a bit of drums. I ended up being in two bands at the same time—one as the vocalist/guitarist, and the other as a drummer. When I went off to college, we dissolved the band. Aside from being in a cover band, I did not do much in music at that time. Last year, I picked up music again, and I bought a V-drum set and a bass guitar, and started recording some demos.
MV: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tease?
RVDB: I am working on a new song—yes. In terms of heaviness, it will be more similar to ‘Ascent’ I think vs. ‘The Monster we Love.’ I would like to collaborate with a drummer, but I just started writing so it can go in any direction.
MV: I’m curious--who would you say influences you most musically?
RVDB: As most, I learned to play guitar listening to Metallica, which quickly led me to start listening to heavier, more complex stuff. My favorite artist at the time was Opeth. I loved the mood changes and the dynamics between heavy and melodic. I think that has shaped my songwriting a lot. However, in more recent years, I have listened to more modern artists such as Trivium, and Machine Head. In terms of melody, I think I am also quite influenced by more modern metalcore artists such as Architects, As I Lay Dying, Of Mice and Men, Crown the Empire, and Bring Me The Horizon. There are quite a lot of pop influences there and I like to incorporate that as well in terms of catchiness.
MV: What would you most want new listeners to know about your music?
RVDB: My music comes from my sheer joy of creating music and I have no commercial desire for it. I just want to create music I myself enjoy listening to, but I also want to get better and better at songwriting. Hopefully, in the process I can reach as many music lovers as possible who can find something they enjoy in my music.
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