Artist: Knocked Loose
Album: A Different Shade Of Blue
Review by Luke Winchester
Don’t you hate it when people say “Oh, they’re the next best thing” or “Oh, they’re so hype, I knew them back before they blew up”? Yeah, me too. However, mention a band like Knocked Loose to any one in the know and the conversation will invariably lead towards the subject of KL’s potential to bridge the gap between metal and hardcore and become one of the torchbearers of heavy music.
Knocked Loose formed in 2013 in Oldham County, Kentucky, a far cry from the east coast and west coast hardcore scenes of Orange County and upper New York state and New York City. Bursting onto the American hardocre scene with 2015’s punishing EP Pop Culture the band basically hit the road like their parachute failed. 2016 saw the band sign to Pure Noise Records and subsequently release their first full length album Laugh Tracks which met applause from both hardcore and metal fans and critics alike. Taking their influences from bands like Eighteen Visions, DeadGuy and Disembodied, KL incorporate death metal tones with hardcore riffs and sharply barked (sorry, had to do it) vocals courtesy of Bryan Garris. Heading back to Will Putney for the second time was a genius move for the band, this album is clean, pummeling and massive. Dare it be said, A Different Shade of Blue is heavier than Laugh Tracks and that comes down to a more focused and defined structure, where Laugh Tracks held out for the “Money Riff/Breakdown” A Different Shade of Blue does not let up with the Money Riffs, every twist and turn will get your head nodding and your face screwed up as if you’ve just smelled fresh shit.
There’s no mistaking that the five members of the band are students of hardcore but it’s their metal knowledge and roots that really shine on this, their second album A Different Shade of Blue the album opener "Belleville" gets straight to the point with a chugged beatdown and sets expectations for the rest of the album, frantic, chaotic and heavier than a whales dick. This LP is pretty unrelenting, the left, right, left knockout punch of opening tracks "Belleville", "Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory" and "A Serpent’s Touch" (Featuring Emma Boster of Dying Wish) is an onslaught of riffs, beatdowns and complete heavy depravity. Track 4 “By the Grave” is absolute Bloodbath worship, the band hone their metal credit and go straight for the throat and although it’s death metal riffs filtered through a hardcore sensibility it doesn’t lose any of it’s bite. It isn’t until the tail end of track five, the blisteringly heavy “In The Walls” where we are met with a sample from a news report about a murder, that the band let up for some air. The clip is haunting and completely unexpected but it sets the tone for the next track, the doomier, sludgefest that is “Guided by the Moon”, the shift down in gear does not mean a lighter track, on the contrary, the tone of this song is almost as heavy as if not heavier than the rest of the album, and let me tell you, the beat down at the end of the song is enough to crush a man. (Listen out for Bryan’s anguished “Fuck” scream).
Now, just to clarify, just because something is heavy does not always make it subjectively good but KL have done their homework, they know what makes their fans move in the live setting and they have almost perfected the beat down without over saturating themselves with breakdowns, instead of them being a main dish, it's more of a side to compliment the already delicious life giving riff pasta. The wonderful thing about this album is it’s filled to the brim with energetic hardcore, it doesn’t stop until the final note, where some bands pad the tail end of their albums with rejected riffs and songs that made the cut to fill some room KL have packed every second of this LP with valuable bang for your buck. The centre jewel is the pummeling “Mistakes like Fracture” of which the band showcase the reason that they are one of the most spoken about bands within the hardcore community. Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die and The Damned Things fame jumps in on “Forget Your Name” and it’s the most frantic he’s sounded in years, this track could sit somewhere on any The Acacia Strain album and not seem out of place.
The disjointed and jarring “Road 23” hits right between the eyes and it’s the closest the band come to a straight up metal track, their use of time signature changes to shift the mood is peppered all over the album but it’s tracks like "Road 23" that really show how well they work for the band. At this point you might ask yourself, seriously, how does one band come up with so many riffs and beatdowns? The sunset of this album showcases some interesting sides of KL, all as crushing as each other. Single “...And Still I Wander South”, the fuck off, snot nosed punk metal melting pot “Denied by Fate” and the doomy, somber album closer “Misguided Son” are absolute master classes in seamlessly amalgamating metal and hardcore. If the end of "Misguided Son doesn’t make you want to kick people off the planet into the sun you might want to check your pulse, you’re probably legally dead.
Not one of the tracks on the album go anywhere near going over 4 minutes. They’re all concise, to the point, muscular songs that have no need for the fatty off-cuts that so many bands hang onto these days. Knocked Loose ARE the next big thing and they will be the band that the next generation quotes as being their introduction into heavier music, the gatekeepers of heavy music just need to shut their mouths and get out of the way, the kids have got this and the future of heavy music is bright.
8.5 out of 10
A Different Shade of Blue is out Friday August 23rd via Pure Noise Records.