Indiana-born Christian metallers Haste The Day may have turned to the dark side when it comes to their stylistic experimentation, but on their fourth full-length, their faith is shining brighter than ever in the spotlight. After firing guitarist Jason Barnes for abandoning his Christian beliefs, vocalist Steven Keech, guitarist Brennan Chaulk, bassist Michael Murphy and drummer Devin Chaulk decided to move forward as a band, and progress as a force in focusing on a heavier, deeper sound with stronger emphasis on their faith-based message. The result? The Andreas Magnusson-produced Dreamer debuting at #68 on the Billboard 200 and succeeding in expanding upon their tried and true formula with heavier, harrowing guitars, limited-but-fierce breakdowns, less metal-by-numbers screaming/singing combos, and more-fervent-than-ever lyrical themes. To find out more about what went in to this record and the circumstances surrounding the departure of Jason Barnes, we caught up with Haste The Day’s Brennan Chaulk at home in Indianapolis.
What does Dreamer mean?
The whole thing is based on a fallen nation, a fallen mankind. One of the main songs that really ties the whole fallen [idea] is ‘An Adult Tree,’ and one of the main lines in it is “go to bed young dreamer”—it came from that song, really. I don’t really know how to explain it; Steven writes the majority of the lyrics.
In metal lately, a lot of bands are thematically looking at the way the world is failing based on human error, did that come into play with the concept?
It was just kind of as we saw everyday-life-things fail: Beings—ourselves—fail. It was not really tied to what the nation’s going through right now, we just wanted to write a record that everyone can relate to, going through different things in their lives.
What were your sonic goals?
We wanted to write a record that we would want to listen to—I guess you always want to do that, but this time we took more chances. We’ve tried to change every record and we’ve gotten a lot of flack for that, but this time we’re like, ‘If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but let’s just make a record we can be really happy about.’ So we made the record that we wanted to make.
You can call it the heaviest record we’ve ever done, but at the same time there’s a few songs in there that are just a lot quieter, kind of eerie, and not heavy at all. It’s a darker sound musically, though. Jason was more of a rock ‘n’ roll-type guitar player, so a lot of [our] music was more rock ‘n’ roll. This time we went with a darker feel to the music: We really wanted to have heavy sounding guitars, choruses that really popped at you—we were pretty dead set on that. That’s why we wanted to go with Andreas [Magnusson, producer]; he really helps with that type of sound with the records he has done and the bands he has been in. We thought he would probably have some good ideas and we really enjoyed working with Andreas. But I think our biggest goal going into this record was to have a record that was really obvious about our faith, and I think we definitely did that. Every single song has something that people can relate to but at the same time, they’ll be able to see our faith through it and that’s very important to us—the most important thing.