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Album Review: Year Of The Knife – Internal Incarceration

Delaware heavyists Year Of The Knife turn grief into brutality on debut full-length, Internal Incarceration

Losing someone close to you can be hard to put into words, but for Year Of The Knife, they’ve put it into a full album. The debut full-length from Delaware’s most destructive force comes in the wake of its members losing family and friends to addiction, and through its 13 tracks the ferocious five-piece confront those feelings of grief and heartbreak, but also empathy.

Clocking in at just 31 minutes, there’s no time for pleasantries, as opener This Time swaggers into a bar fight it’s already won. Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou’s production beefs up the band’s death metal tendencies, while their ingrained hardcore inferno rages with all the energy of Employed To Serves Force Fed, swirling in a cacophony of chainsaw guitars and rampaging percussion.

And this is very much the gameplan for Internal Incarceration: a barrage of punches to the neck. It’s a formula the band have been honing for years in dive bars around America, and you can feel just how violent some of these songs are going to be live – from the two-stepping bounce of Through The Eyes, to the pulverising Manipulation Artist. That said, despite being just over half-an-hour, it could benefit from shaving off a track or two as the fight continues long after the bell rings.

But in the moments when YOTK do hit, they hit hard. Standout track Stay Away – with its almost skate-punk hooky chorus and swampy, chugging riff – is a fist-thumping delight, and the mosh-baiting Eviction is so full of piss and vinegar you can smell it coming out your speakers. 

This record isn’t just about tearing listeners’ arms off and beating them to death with the wet end, though. YOTK do actually have something to say, tackling topics like the opioid crisis, unstable homelives, drug addiction and the dangers of social media. Similar to Pure Noise labelmates Sharptooth, it’s a record in opposition to generic macho bullshit so often seen in hardcore, instead replacing that empty chest-beating with real-world emotion and connection.

YOTK aren’t the finished product yet, but there’s a great deal of promise lurking underneath the bloody waters here. While much of 2020’s discourse surrounding hardcore has been about the experimentalism of Code Orange or the all-out brutalism of Gulch, don’t be surprised when this bunch come back swinging. 

Verdict: 3/5

For Fans Of: Left Behind, Jesus Piece, Knocked Loose

Internal Incarceration is out on August 7 via Pure Noise.

Posted on August 5th 2020, 1:22p.m.
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