|In 1998, 18-year-old Ivo van Dijk buys his first guitar and starts playing music on the weekends, together with his schoolmate Bas and another friend on drums. After a while, Ivo takes the seat behind the drum kit and Bas switches to guitar. Ivo manages to persuade his younger brother Tim to take up the bass and the band's first line-up is completed when Pim van Drunen joins them on keyboards: Xystus is born. The four of them, never having played an instrument before, start rehearsing relentlessly by playing Metallica covers. "It sounded awful! We still have the tapes to prove it," says the now 22-year-old Ivo. "But nothing ventured, nothing gained. In the end I think the more determined you are, the more you grow musically." Receiving Tomorrow, the remarkable debut album of Xystus, is proof of this. By now, guitarist Bob Wijtsma has completed the line-up and the band is currently working with a new synth player.
Xystus is mainly influenced by symphonic bands, but movie soundtracks are an important source of inspiration as well. Ivo, the band's main songwriter, is particularly inspired by composers like Hans Zimmer (Mission Impossible, Pearl Harbor) and John Williams (Minority Report): "I love the way in which that kind of music is composed so well and is so emotionally expressive and eloquent." This influence can be heard in the intro of the extraordinary 'Elements of The Truth', one of the band's own favourites and a song that has grown enormously since its demo phase. It is quite bombastic with beautiful orchestral parts and strong lyrics.
Although Xystus is often labelled 'progressive rock', Ivo is eager to differentiate: "Endless guitar solo's and changes of pace have always been less appealing to us than a catchy chorus and a great composition. I tend to think of Xystus as more of a symphonic power metal band. The strength of bands we like to listen to ourselves, such as Blind Guardian and Kamelot, is that those bands are really song-orientated instead of focussed on the more technical aspects of music." Basically, Xystus is the best of both worlds: all the tracks on the album are compact and well-composed with catchy choruses, while containing well-balanced changes of pace and solo's as well.
Receiving Tomorrow was recorded at the New Road Studios with producer Rob van Boeckel, who has no relation to metal at all. This made him the perfect candidate to produce the album because of his fresh outlook on things. Ivo: "Rob has had a major impact, especially on the more experimental elements on the album. He is a very funky guitar player and he came up with rhythms and guitar parts we could never have come up with ourselves, because we come from the more straightforward metal scene."
Up to now, the band has had to adjust their ambition constantly. Ivo: "At each phase in your musical career your ambition changes. A few years ago, I could not have imagined I would play at the Metal Bash on the same line-up as Machine Head." He adds that Xystus would like to belong to the new category of Dutch bands that has come forward in the last few years: "A lot of new acts have come up lately who, in my opinion, are very revolutionary. I think there will be more room for symphonic bands in the future as a result of that." With such a remarkable debut, there will be plenty of room for Xystus within the Dutch rock scene and beyond.
"Equilibrio", the new stunning rock opera by Xystus, saw it's premiere on the 4th of July, Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Netherlands. Never before had the world seen a show in the likes of this: A full eighty piece orchestra, thirty singers and dancers, and a highly professional cast consisting of Simone Simons (Epica), George Oosthoek (Orphanage), John Vooijs (Tarzan) and Michelle Splietelhof (Les Miserables). Main character of the show being played by Xystus' frontman, Bas Dolmans. The road to bring the more than 4000 visitors this show was a long one, a two year one to be exact.