“The truth of human freedom lies in the love that breaks down barriers.”
— Jürgen Moltmann
Ever since forming in 2015 KOZEN has set out to expand the boundaries of 'genre' through the virtue of diversity. The Toronto-based progressive metal band has always reflected the multicultural makeup of their city by representing massive amounts of different musical influences in their sound. In 2020, Kozen was listed by Alternative Press as one of the 10 Best Genre Bending Bands You've Never Heard Of. Fittingly, over the course of their career, KOZEN has had members from genres as varied as Metal, Gospel, R&B, and Pop, and hailing heritages as diverse as Okinawa, St. Lucia, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and the Philippines. Founded on this principle of diversity, the band has consistently brought a truly multi-cultural and multi-textured dynamic to progressive music.
KOZEN's first release - a double EP called "Swimming To The Stars" - showcased two sides of lead singer Maxwell Kozen's songwriting style, one softer and one heavier. After switching a few band members, KOZEN teamed up with producer Justin Meli (Crown Lands, Excuses Excuses) and went in a heavier and more focused metal direction with their single Barricade. This single also ended up being the band's first music video, produced by The Trenches Inc.
In a short period of time the band has managed to play alongside artists like Romancer, Bird Problems, Polarity, Rebelle, Poeta, and We Were Sharks, among many others. In 2017, they toured with Quebec experimental hardcore group We Throw Flowers, playing shows from Windsor, ON, to Quebec City, and also participated in Indie Week 2017 in Toronto.
On June 5, 2019, the band played the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in downtown Toronto in celebration of their debut album, "A Fearful Wonder," which they co-produced with Stephen James Kerr (Afterwake, Golden Gate Graves), who also mixed and mastered the album. They were joined by Talking Violet, Afterwake, and Polarity for a diverse and musically adept evening. Two days later, the album was released. It saw the group building upon the musical and lyrical themes of their previous work, embracing a more refined and focused sound and slightly less esoteric lyrics.
Since releasing their debut, KOZEN has gone through a number of lineup changes, and currently is operate as a three-piece band. The vision of genre-bending and unexpected versatility still drives the band, and the singles they have put out since their debut album prove that there is no safe way to predict what they might do next.
In a post-genre era of music, where heavy bands are going melodic, pop artists are playing with darker aesthetics, and stylistic crossovers are becoming more and more common, KOZEN is a band worth paying attention to. The future of rock music will be created by bands that can transcend labels and categories, defying limitations and discovering new possibilities. Rock is not dead, but it must always evolve.
Maxwell Kozen [Vocals, Guitars]
Jericho Leal [Guitars]
Jared Leal [Drums]
Alumni & occasional members:
Kyron Newbury (Drums 2014-2016)
Jonathan Aristide (Bass 2015-2017)
Jeremy John (Bass 2018-2020)
Sidone Harrison (Drums, Keyboards, Vocals, Bass 2015-2021)
Antonia Lawrence (Backing Vocals 2015-present)
“[...] Kozen [...] have a lot going for them in terms of talent, cohesive songwriting ability, genre mixing, and musical mindfulness which is a recipe for true greatness. There’s so much potential here. Woe to those who sleep on it!”
“Let me tell you, this combination of genres and cultures coming together makes for a unique sound different than anything else out in the scene today. Taking musical evolution to the next level, check out KOZEN if you want to question everything you think you know about genres.”
“Not a note is wasted, and there’s a wonderful sense from start to finish that a range of disparate ideas and notions are coming together into something truly refreshing and revitalizing. Overall, on their debut, Kozen has managed to embrace a miasma of genres and styles, while still setting out their unique sound.”
“The overall result is a very youthful and energetic album – reminiscent of the alternative rock of the early 2000s. There’s a feeling of possibility on each track, as Kozen pushes the limits of what their instruments can do, showcasing the breadth of their talent.”
“While there seems to be a new metalcore band every five minutes, discovering a band like Kozen is like finding a needle in a stack of safety pins. While they look and feel similar, the needle isn’t “safe” – the lack of a cap makes it a bit of a risk in the stack. Kozen took some big risks making music that doesn’t hold to the typical formulas of a metal band, and it pays off. More of this, please.”