As part of CMN’s ongoing Music Journalism Course, participants were asked to find a physical copy of an album by an artist they had never heard of. The challenge was to listen and react to the recording without any prior knowledge.
One of the coolest things a longtime fan of a particular music genre gets to observe is its evolution. Hardcore and metalcore enthusiasts have had the opportunity to watch the biggest leaps over the course of the last few years. Breakdowns are evolving into beat downs and cliche lyrics lacking substance are being buried under tracks with legitimate messages.
One of the bands at the forefront of this movement to a more abrasive hardcore sound is a group called Knocked Loose. These guys have already had the opportunity to tour with some of the metalcore/hardcore’s most notable groups. Huge names like Every Time I Die, The Acacia Strain, and Terror have invited the up and comers on tour with them. And Knocked Loose have often stolen the show.
Evolving alongside veterans of the scene, the Buffalo, N.Y. natives have picked up the ball and run with it quicker than most of their peers.
The band is doing this by incorporating some of the most unique elements the genre has been presented with in a long time. One of the first things noticed when initially listening to this band is the eclectic vocal style. Bryan Garris’s new school hardcore howls paired with the throwback metal growls from backups Isaac Hales and Cole Crutchfield.
The supporting vocal duo make up the lead and rhythm guitars and have created some of the hardest riffs I’ve ever heard. Kevin Kaine is relentless on the drums, punctuating the heaviest parts with striking ferocity and Kevin Ottis is so much more than just backing bass lines as he adds low octave grit to the albums heaviest moments.
The wildest part of this bands success thus far is that they’re doing it all off of the back of one album. The band released their debut record Laugh Tracks in September of 2016.
As superficial as is may seem, the reason that I picked this one up was for the album art. From the second the first track starting blasting from my car’s speakers, however, I was thrilled the cover had appealed to me.
Starting off on an incredibly strong note, “Oblivion’s Peak” opens with the striking of two cymbals followed by an absolutely diabolical riff. Everything that follows on this is pure carnage with Laugh Tracks lacking a weak link among the bunch. Lyrically the album is in another class than the majority of their contemporaries, most of who suffer from an over-reliance on commonplace themes like heartbreak and partying.
And you can try to make things up / but lost time was just way too much /Knocked Loose “The Rain”
A sentenced revoked from choices you’ve made / You’ve taken your chances, You won’t be saved
Knocked Loose trade cliches in for lyrics revolving around deeper issues such as substance abuse, loss of loved ones and disappointment over complacent peers.
The highlight of this record is “Deadringer.” The song follows the opening track’s outro, and wastes no time raising the energy from an already skyrocketed level.
This song contains some of the best work done by bassist Kevin Otten, who shines with a mixture of grimy solos and heavy riffs that stay right on par with lead and rhythm. The song blends metal and metalcore to perfection, and provides a wide selection of candidates for heaviest part on the album.
Another noteworthy part of Laugh Track is “Billy No Mates.”
Sure, the fact that Knocked Loose has been able to tour with respected scene vets Counterparts is a pretty big deal, but the fact that at this stage in their career they were able to get the band’s vocalist Brendan Murphy to do a feature is astounding. Murphy absolutely goes off on this track and adds to the depth and brutality of Laugh Tracks as a whole.
For anyone who likes what they hear, this band has spent the better part of the last two years on the road and undoubtedly coming to a city near you soon. With Knocked Loose at the forefront of the changing metalcore seen, the future looks bright for the group — and the genre as a whole.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.