Album Review: Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue
When Knocked Loose introduced themselves with their killer Laugh Tracks debut in 2016, it was with all the subtlety of a bomb. It was a fierce way of announcing to the world the emergence of one of hardcore’s weightiest and most rabid new entities. Eleven tracks of pure belligerence, it immediately connected with anyone searching for music that was violence incarnate. Their sound was nothing revolutionary, drawing comparisons with plenty of big-riffing, hard-hitting, non-joking bands pushing out musical punches, but they pushed every element of it to the extreme, and in doing so created something uniquely hostile, comfortably existing alongside the likes of Code Orange, with their slow motion breakdowns built to crack bones. Legend of dangerously chaotic mosh pits at their shows soon spread, with good reason, and this follow-up is deservedly emerging as one of the most anticipated heavy releases of 2019.
Natural roadhorses, time spent on endless touring has only served to hone the Kentucky quintet’s chops here. Not only that, as cathartic as their music is, on album number two they clearly have not found a cheerier perspective from which to view the world. A Different Shade Of Blue is not only a worthy successor to their debut, it eclipses it across the board, and offers more of everything that made that record so compelling. It’s more hardcore, more metal, there are more fast parts, more breakdowns, more malice, more unease and, perhaps most importantly, more energy. As it careens along, the whole thing hits you with a drive that is breathless no matter what tempo they go at.
That they are out for blood is evident from the moment opener Belleville comes screaming out of the traps. It is 100 per cent attack, and in its short three minutes it covers so much territory as it shifts between breakneck thrashing and all different kinds of slow-paced slamming devastation it’s almost too much. Screaming a single sentence with the unrestrained ferocity singer Bryan Garris pours into every bilious utterance should blow out the larynx, but he doesn’t let up for a moment, and as he closes out the track shrieking, ‘I need you to make me feel’, it sends a chill down the spine. What follows is a masterclass in unrepentant brutality, smashing through genre boundaries without flinching. Among the titanic chuggery and violent riffs that dominate proceedings, they throw in other flavours – touches of Slayer-esque evil infiltrate Mistakes Like Fractures and Guided By The Moon, a pinch of death-inflected doom ups the sinister ante on By The Grave, and the coda that closes out apeshit standout In The Walls is eerie in the extreme.
Rather than recording live in the studio as on their debut, under the guiding hand of producer Will Putney (Northlane, The Amity Affliction) the band have taken a more deliberate approach here, and it’s served them well, hardening their edges. They’ve also recruited a couple of friends to help them out, with Dying Wish’s Emma Boster lending her formidable scream to A Serpent’s Touch, and Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley showing up on Forget Your Name. This last is the album’s most furious, explosive moment, and one of the best things Knocked Loose have ever done. The band don’t need to rely on outsiders to get the job done, though, and what they’ve made here is something that’s pushed hardcore’s limits entirely on their terms. Brace for impact.
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