Review by Shannon Shumaker
You can usually tell a lot about a band by the first song on their album, and Kentucky hardcore band Knocked Loose will have you hooked on their debut full-length, Laugh Tracks within thirty seconds of the opening song, “Oblivions Peak.” Not only is the guitar work that opens the album incredible, but the tone is deep, hitting you right in the chest, and the slowed down, heavy breakdowns will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat and wanting to move when they kick in. Most notable in “Oblivions Peak” is the moment toward the end of the song when vocalist Bryan Garris screams, “But in the end/When it’s your turn to be judged/You get what you fucking deserve/You son of a bitch.” With so much aggression packed into just the opening track, it leaves a lot of promise for the rest of Laugh Tracks, and thankfully, Knocked Loose deliver.
From “Oblivions Peak,” Laugh Tracks progresses with ease. In no time, the band’s signature slow and heavy sound becomes a common theme throughout these songs, making them transition easily into one another. But thankfully, they are also capable of writing more than just the slow, heavy breakdowns, and that can be heard in the fast paced drumming and unpredictable ending of “Deadringer.” Laugh Tracks is chaotic, and it just gets better from there.
From “Deadringer,” Knocked Loose pick up the pace again with the wild and catastrophic, “The Rain,” followed a few songs later by “Counting Worms,” one of the shorter and more chaotic songs on the album. Not only is the intro to “Counting Worms” intense, but the breakdown that follows is one of the hardest hitting parts on the album.
Knocked Loose have absolutely found their own niche in the hardcore scene with their very distinct dark and heavy sound, which is both a blessing and a curse. Although their heavy, almost sludgy sound sets them apart, it also causes some breakdowns on the album to feel a bit repetitive. It’s the standout moments, like the aggressive vocals, powerful drumming and incredible bass tone that keep you on your toes. Although the bass work and drumming are both strong throughout the entire album, they both really shine in the dark and aggressive “Billy No Mates.”
Lyrically and vocally, “No Thanks,” which comes two songs later, is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The line, “Too embarrassed to ask for help/But too slow to run from my past,” shows a sliver of vulnerability, especially when Bryan Garris delivers the line in desperate sounding screams. The last few songs of Laugh Tracks aren’t nearly as unpredictable and chaotic as the first half of the album, but where it lacks in wild sounds, it makes up for in powerful lyrics and strong instrumentation. That, and there definitely are still a few standout moments, like the aggressive and fast-paced “A Fetish.” Knocked Loose’s brand of slow, deep and hard hitting riffs coupled with chaotic vocals and unpredictability might not be conventional, but it makes them a unique in a genre that can be very hard to stand out in.
Listen to “Deadringer”
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