What a time to be a hardcore fan. The genre is enjoying a renaissance, stacked with bands such as Show Me The Body, Employed To Serve, Vein and Code Orange hell-bent on crossing boundaries and pulling the scene in a million new directions. Knocked Loose have frequently found themselves mentioned among that innovative crop, and their second album ‘A Different Shade Of Blue’ is a thrill from start to finish, with the Kentucky quintet taking a step up in every sense.
Tracks such as ‘A Serpent’s Touch’ and the monolithic ‘By The Grave’ are stormers that see the band perfect what they started on 2016’s ‘Laugh Tracks’, assimilating Pantera-like grooves and metallic fury into their bloodthirsty mosh. Three years ago, when they were less fully formed, it seemed unthinkable that they could have written a song like ‘Trapped In The Grasp Of A Memory’, which lurches in a new direction about every 30-seconds, incorporating everything from breakneck punk and death metal tropes to a doomy mid-section and the surprisingly poetic line, “I plucked the petals from all my roses / Leaving a pile of stems.”
Frontman Bryan Garris has said that the album ended up sounding darker than the band expected, and he has produced some of his best lyrical work to date here, delivering every word with whites-of-your-eyes intensity. Anxiety trembles in every crevice of this record, which sounds like it’s drenched in cold sweat. “I will hide from the spotlights, I will stay in the dark / I will never finish what I never start,” he screams on opener ‘Belleville’, although there’s a gasp of self-worth in the final moments of closer ‘Misguided Son’: “I would rather die than be like you.”
Backed by hardcore specialist Will Putney’s monstrous production, Knock Loose’s songwriting has come on leaps and bounds as the band nudge at the edges of their own sound more than ever before. With ‘A Different Shade Of Blue’, they’ve proven you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to create something great.