Editor for The Horn RVA
When VCU alumni Joe Vanderhoff and Patrick Philips speak of their band, Crossing the Event Horizon, they address it as a separate entity apart from themselves.
Though both guitarists write, or, in Vanderhoff’s words, “experience the compositions and transcribe them to the best of their ability,” they are quick to admit that CTEH is more than just a progressive metal band with beefy tones and virtuosic soloing.
To them, CTEH is a spiritual realm dedicated to breaking down the barriers of subjectivity.
“My goal as a musician is to play the role of an auditory shaman or guru,” Vanderhoff said. “That listening to the music wil literally evoke something from a place in you that you may have even not been aware of before. I think music and art are the best way of getting at that place, because its very nature is ineffable.”
Since forming in 2006, the group struggled to maintain a full lineup due to the demanding and technical nature of their songwriting. CTEH went on hiatus shortly after inception, but Philips and Vanderhoff continued writing and perfecting their songs digitally.
“One of us will have a musical vision for a piece and then we both chip away on it together until it seems to be in the closest form, which is a process that can take many years,” Vanderhoff said.
The group received critical acclaim in 2012 from blogs such as The Circle Pit following the release of their free demos, with five face-melting self-recordings compiled during Vanderhoff and Philips’ time at VCU. Even without a proper album release or live performances, the group still amassed a sizeable digital audience.
After recruiting bassist Khaled Hijaab, the group recently announced the end of their self-imposed live hiatus with the addition of 17-year-old Chevance Smith on drums.
“It’s quite funny actually Chevance doesn’t even own a drum set,” Vanderhoff said. “He listened to a few of the songs and came over to jam. He played them pretty well, which was quite impressive for never having a chance to try them out on a kit before playing with us.”
Though the group has yet to plan a return show, they recently hosted a crowd-funding page in hopes of self-recording and producing their debut full-length album.
“I think actually playing the songs as a band will really bring out the best in our material,” Vanderhoff said. “Sometimes composing solely on the computer becomes overwhelming with how many ideas present themselves.”