Chaos Rising: Inside the Genre-Defying Metal Machine

Chaos Rising make a cheeky nod in their band name to one of Jordan Peterson’s favourites – the old “masculine is order, feminine is chaos” archetype that’s been making an unnerving comeback in the past few years. However, the members of this project are happy to seize this sexist mantle in order to turn it back on patriarchy.

With members spread all over the world, and a flurry of releases in the past 18 months spanning the whole world of metal subgenres, Chaos Rising have harnessed the best of contemporary, distributed recording technologies and an impassioned feminist ethos to make a multi-headed all-female metal machine. After meeting some of their members at a conference on feminism in metal culture, we were eager to find out more…

Tell us about how this project formed and what you’ve been doing up to this point.

Stéphanie Nolf (songwriter, guitar, bass, vocals, mix, video editing – France): I created Chaos Rising in 2019 with the idea of creating music only with women. Playing thrash-death metal in bands for 27 years with only men, I was interested in doing something different. And in fact, I feel no difference between playing music with men or women, we are just musicians working together to create songs, the best way we can. The open and collaborative aspect of the project is what’s most interesting.

When Chaos Rising started, we were only two musicians, and so to make it possible, I had to compose songs, play guitar, bass, program drums, do some vocals, mix the songs and edit the videos. Then gradually more musicians joined us and now we are 29, which allows us to make new teams in different metal styles with people all around the world. Some can do video editing, graphic design, promo, and several teams can work at the same time on different songs.

How does the group go about writing and recording?

Catherine Fearns (songwriter, guitar, piano, promo – Switzerland): Usually the process begins with a demo that someone has composed, although that could be anything from a fully-formed song to a couple of riffs or a melodic line. A team of interested musicians forms around that song and we trade ideas and recordings using Guitar Pro documents and audio files on a shared drive. Eventually we agree on a final version, and Stéphanie does all the mixing and engineering. Occasionally we have Zoom meetings but most of our communication is done by Telegram message groups. We are always working on several songs at once, and some are done very quickly whereas others can take many months, but we aim to release one song/video every month, and so far we have remained on this target. It’s fascinating to see songs come together as a collaboration, with teams spread across the world and each member recording in their home or local studio.

The group has a huge range of instruments and talents at your disposal. What have been some of your most exciting projects so far, or those that you’re proudest of?

Catherine Fearns: Chaos Rising is all about breaking boundaries, and I love the fact that we are multi-genre and that we make use of instruments regarded as unusual within metal. For example, Laura is a classical wind instrument player, and she incorporated clarinet and baritone saxophone into our doom track ‘The Greatness Beyond’. Recently a Russian cellist, Ksenia, joined us to play on ‘Limbo’ and manage our orchestration. 

I am also very proud to be involved with a project that gives a platform to women like Behnaz (our Iranian vocalist) who face so many constraints in their home environments. 

Nicole Trinchero (drums – Argentina): We are very happy with each of our songs. The work that each one put into it is really amazing and without a doubt we are making progress for each production.

What are some of your favourite songs in particular so far?

Corinna Kurschatke (vocals, lyrics – Germany): I think that every single release is awesome considering the different styles of metal. That makes the project various and interesting. One of my favourites is ‘Limbo’. I fell in love with Behnaz’s voice the first second I heard her. And although I’m not much into doom metal, ‘The Greatness Beyond’ has remained in my ears for a long time. It was also great to see so many Chaos Rising participants in just one song. 

Nicole Trinchero: It is difficult to choose, since being composed and played by different members they have a unique and special touch. But I must highlight ‘Lost’, ‘Lullabies of Madness’ and ‘Thrive’.

Behnaz Ghavidel (vocals, lyrics – Iran): ‘Thrive’, ‘The Greatness Beyond’, ‘Lullabies Of Madness’, ‘Limbo’.

Stéphanie Nolf: The next one to be released!

Could you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced as women musicians in the metal scene?

Corinna Kurschatke: So far I cannot determine serious challenges. But I noticed several stupid and mean comments in social media made by men obviously stuck in the Middle Ages. Even if people don’t like what you do, and especially due to the reason you’re a woman: I will never understand why hate is spread in such a way. I assume some people are bored and unsatisfied with their own life. 

One funny thing regarding myself: When I tell people I do metal music, the reaction is always the same: “What?! You don’t look like you’re into metal!” Aha…

Behnaz Ghavidel: As a woman who lives in Iran, I need a much more open atmosphere to show my abilities to the world. I guess people underestimate women and things they could do. Women need more confidence to present themselves as metal musicians. And we ladies in this project try to encourage the others to scream louder.

Do your songs address patriarchal oppression directly, or is the project more grounded in making a space for feminine creativity?

Natalia Rozanova (bass guitar, double bass – Russia): It seems to us that living life contrary to some idea is a false way. Therefore, our creativity isn’t directly aimed at censuring the patriarchal system; the way forward is to support and expand the safe environment outside of a toxic system. It’s like a women’s locker room: you can finally relax, put on your favourite soft pants, tie your hair in a knot, no longer think about your posture, no longer think about how you look and just work on what you crave. We work on a common cause, as a team, we learn to trust each other and support each other in difficult circumstances. 

In addition, this is a great reason for uniting ladies from all over the world. Each comes for acceptance and understanding and brings their own unique personality to the project.

Behnaz Ghavidel: This project is all about musical skills and the content is about anything but aggression or hatred. We try to just show the world that we are skilled, expert women and we are strong and thoughtful.

We deserve respect and we need to be paid attention to. We want to spread love for metal and being a real human being inattentive to what gender we or our audience are… We are no enemies to men!

With your members dispersed all over the world, how do you plan on organising live shows? Will this ever be a possibility?

Catherine Fearns: Now that concerts and festivals are starting up again, I’m sure some of us will bump into each other while performing in our other bands. A Chaos Rising live show is certainly a dream; how the logistics of that would work, I have no idea! But we have broken down so many barriers already – knowing us, we will find a way! 

Lastly, will there be an album coming out? What’s up next for the project?

Catherine Fearns: Yes, we are planning to release an album soon. It’s very difficult to promote singles, and we would love for Chaos Rising to have more attention. The project is at something of a turning point right now, I would say. We have plenty of songs in the works, but there is a huge burden, particularly on Stéphanie, to get the release out every month. For the project to move forward we need help with promotion, and we would love to have more songwriters, guitarists, engineers and video editors.

Stéphanie Nolf: It’s very difficult to promote the project, we would love help from new people joining us and working specially on it, a kind of ‘promo team’. It’s a lot of work that Catherine and I can’t manage as we are already working a lot on songwriting.

Concerning the songs, a ‘killer team’ is working on a powerful death metal one, with new musicians joining: Luana Dametto (Crypta) on drums, Francesca Mancini (Sudden Death) on solo guitar, Alessia Mercado (Murge) on vocals… I composed the song and will play rhythm guitar, Tina will play bass.

It’s a chance and a real pleasure to have the opportunity to work with some professional musicians. And we also started to work on heavy metal and hardcore styles to add more diversity in our productions.

Chaos Rising’s releases can be found on Bandcamp.

Words: David Burke

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