Thank Carl Jung for the band name “Cruelty of the Heavens.”
It was part of a long passage in Jung's book about Abraxas, a gnostic deity, says Jared Filsinger, bass player/back-up vocalist in the band that includes singer/guitarist Neal Bledsoe and drummer Sam Davidson.
The name was perfect because they now mix “melody with melancholy," Filsinger says. “Neal writes all the lyrics and we write the music together. And a lot of times it will be melodic. Pretty guitar parts and stuff like that. But there’s always going to be some minors thrown in. And then his lyrics a lot of times are dark. So, it’s that merging of two emotions.”
Filsinger, Bledsoe and Davidson were together in two other bands: The West Bound and Chaos Order, which were a “heavier, fast kind of band,” Bledsoe says. “We had six records. We were doing two EPs a year. I mean, it was insane. Naturally, you just get jaded and burnt out and just tired of the certain thing you’ve been doing for a long time.”
The new music wasn’t really a departure as far as their musical tastes. “We grew up listening to stuff like this. All three of us listen to stuff like this on a daily basis. More than we do the heavier stuff. Jared’s a huge fan of The Replacements. Then there’s a band called Superdrag, that we love a lot. The bigger bands like Nirvana.”
“Soundgarden,” Filsinger says.
“To me, it’s like post punk mixed with '90s alternative, so, it’s almost like some elements of The Cure and Joy Division with The Replacements and Nirvana somewhere in between that,” Bledsoe says.
It’s “just a breath of fresh air being able to write this kind of stuff and not be screaming into a microphone.”
“For me, personally, it’s like the band I wanted to be in but I didn’t know it all along,” Filsinger says.
They changed their musical direction when they took a break from Chaos Order in early 2016. “We’d been so militant for all those years,” Bledsoe says. “Doing two EPs a year. Then we would do at least two videos for each of those two EPs. So, we’re just like, ‘Let’s take a breather for a second now. Let’s be humans now.’”
They said they were going to take a break, but, Bledsoe says, “taking a break” meant taking a break from writing their heavier material to writing their more melodic songs.
In 2015, Bledsoe and Filsinger wrote “1995,” which was about the death of Bledsoe’s dad. That song was more melodic that their Chaos Order material. “That was the first song that Neal and I had written together,” Filsinger says. “And it showed us we could write a different style of music with him on guitar and me on bass.”
The band members didn’t intend to form a new band when they took the break. “We planned on just doing Chaos Order, but in that break Neal and I got together and we each had songs that weren’t heavy and we jammed with Sam,” Filsinger says.
“We decided we’re going to do the record and not tell anybody who’s in the band and release it and that be it,” Davidson says. “That was the plan, but five songs turned into 10 and we said, ‘Man, this feels right.’ We kept both going for a while, but now it’s just this band.”
Bledsoe tested their new music by giving a recording of it to his friend, who’s in a hardcore band in St. Louis. But he didn’t tell him the members of Chaos Order were the musicians. “If you said, ‘Hey, this is my band. Tell me what you think,’ automatically they’re doing to be partial with you,” Bledsoe says.
His friend liked it.
How did their Chaos Order fans like this change? “Some of them were kind of like, ‘Uh, I didn’t think you guys were capable of doing this kind of stuff,’” Davidson says. “But it was surprising that a lot of people came over like they really liked it. It was kind of like, ‘If these guys can play this type of stuff (and) be passionate about it, then it’s OK for me to like it.”
They released their album, “Grow Up and See” in November, 2016 and their EP, “Somewhere Between Paranoia and Depression” last year.
Songs include “The Magician,” which Filsinger describes as a “dysfunctional love story,” and “Entoptic Phenomenon,” which Bledsoe describes as a “coming-of-age record.”
“I think we can be a lot more honest in this band,” Davidson says. “Not that we weren’t honest in the other bands, but when you’re playing heavy music, people kind of expect a certain content. And when you’re doing something new that is like this, when you want to write about something emotional, you can do that without thinking, ‘I wonder how this is going to be?’ WIth metal, they’re expecting certain topics, Just like dark stuff.”
Satanic rituals,” Bledsoe says. “Satanic. Deal with the fucking devil.”
“With this one, if you want to write a song about a girl, you can,” Davidson says. “It’s like we can be completely sincere and who gives a shit if some hardcore tough guy doesn’t like it?”
Cruelty of the Heavens will perform at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 at Meddlesome Brewing Company, 7750 Trinity Road, No. 114 in Cordova. No admission charge.