Oklahoma Christian metal band Chaotic Resemblance returns to Rocklahoma
PRYOR — Chaotic Resemblance will kick off the festivities Sunday at the 15th annual Rocklahoma music and camping festival.
It’s a fitting time slot for the Poteau-based Christian rockers, who believe in bringing the gospel to every set they play.
“We’re giving what we believe is the best news there is, so it’s fun. We love it. We love Rocklahoma. It’s close to home, obviously, and we’ve just seen God do so many cool things onstage and offstage,” said Chaotic Resemblance frontman Travis McConnell.
Labor Day comeback
Typically a May tradition billed as “America’s Biggest Memorial Day Party,” Rocklahoma is making a comeback Sept. 3-5 after the 2020 edition was
scrapped and this year’s fest was delayed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rocklahoma will again offer three days of camping and raucous live music at the Pryor Creek Music Festival Grounds, which are off U.S. 69 north of Pryor.
Despite planned headliner Limp Bizkit canceling his festival dates — including Rocklahoma — due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases, this year’s lineup is still stacked with more than 40 current and classic rock acts, including Rob Zombie, Slipknot, Chevelle, Halestorm, Anthrax and more.
This year will mark Chaotic Resemblance’s fifth Rocklahoma appearance.
“I’ve had guys at Rocklahoma who aren’t Christian at all that were in other bands and even atheist guys come up to us and say stuff like, ‘Hey, I don’t believe that way. But you guys are legit, and I appreciate that you’re waving the flag like you do,’ because they’ve just seen so many phonies. So, we definitely don’t try to hide it. But we love people, and I think that’s the difference,” McConnell said.
From churches to rock fests
Chaotic Resemblance’s Rocklahoma set will follow a recent back-to-school bash performance at Life Church in Charleston, Arkansas. For McConnell and his bandmates — guitarist Logan Ellis, bassist Isaac David and new drummer James Stolhammer — that touring schedule doesn’t seem contradictory.
The concept of heavy metal Christian music doesn’t either.
“People usually think it’s all just pretty music, but you know, the Lord just said play skillfully upon the lyre,” Ellis said. “We love riffs ... just stuff that makes you want to drive fast or throw something when you probably shouldn’t, because a fit of rage is a work of the flesh. It’s not a fruit of the Spirit.”
McConnell formed Chaotic Resemblance in 2006 when he was still in high school. He said the band’s name is inspired by the scripture in Isaiah 40:18: “To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?”
“We were calling the band when I first started it Sons of Thunder. And right before we played our first show, my mom was like — that’s funny; I got my band’s name from my mom — ‘What about Chaotic Resemblance?’ And I’m like, ‘That sounds awesome,’” McConnell recalled.
“We play a very intense and aggressive style of music ... and the Old Testament, it just sounds metal. But I think the gospel is super metal, so it conveys really awesome with that style of music. In my opinion, I’ve been to so many concerts growing up and stuff, but nothing moves you quite like slamming music. ... It gets inside of you, so I think the two go really well hand-in-hand.”
Music from the heart
While McConnell and Ellis are based in Poteau, David lives in Illinois and Stolhammer is based in Minnesota. That means creating new music typically means working long distance.
“Travis or me will have an idea, and we’ll bounce it off each other and then demo it out. Then, we’ll send it to the dudes and they’ll put their layer on it, send it back, and we’ll talk about it. Then once we get together before a run or string of shows, we’ll go through new ideas and try to hash things out and get it fleshed out,” Ellis said.
Over the past 15 years, McConnell said the band’s sound has shifted through lineup and life changes, two albums and various singles and EPs.
“When I first started the band, I was trying to write a certain style. I wanted to sound like some of my favorites and just couldn’t seem to make that happen. I was discouraged ... and my dad said, ‘Just write what’s on your heart. Write what God gives you, just go with that.’ And that’s what we’ve done ever since then.”
Chaotic Resemblance’s newest song, “Unto the Lamb,” features guitarist Oz Fox of groundbreaking Christian metal band Stryper. Proceeds from the single’s sales are going to help with Fox’s medical bills following his recent brain surgery to remove a tumor.
“Me and Travis were just messing around, writing, and like it happens sometimes, at the very end of writing we come on to something really cool. ... We just had this kind of almost throwback metal sound, and we bridged it in with this more new-school heavy bridge. And we wanted to feature Oz Fox on it because he’s been so near and dear to us,” Ellis said.
“It’s probably one of the most challenging in the set for me ... but it’s just super fun, super shreddy. It’s just a good time.”