Release Date: 7th August 2020
Label: Pure Noise Records
For Fans Of: Knocked Loose, Jesus Piece, Venom Prison
Hardcore in 2020 is a very different beast to what it was even just five years ago. Bands like Loathe and Code Orange seem to be branching out into new and varied directions all the time which has now started filtering down. This means that to really stand out in the genre you’ve got to work that little bit harder and find your own hook. While many seem to be achieving this by taking an approach of widening and diversifying, Year Of The Knife have instead decided to double down and push themselves to go harder and heavier than anyone else around at the minute. This means that their first full-length album is thirty-one minutes of lean, mean, hardcore gold.
Year Of The Knife’s sound teeters just on the edge between hardcore and grindcore, evoking the likes of Nails and Full of Hell. ‘Stay Away’ and the title track both sound like they could be outtakes from the debut Slipknot record on steroids and like the rest of Internal Incarceration is completely unrelenting. These tracks also showcase the ability of the band to write memorable hooks that never compromise on the heavy – being able to scream along to ‘Stay the fuck away from me’ is the kind of catharsis we all need at the moment. There are also moments where you get a real feel for the band’s love of death metal and its groove. Riffs on ‘Virtual Narcotic’ and ‘Final Tears’ show the Year of the Knife taking that classic style, speeding it right up and adding a touch more hardcore stomp to create a truly manic concoction that places their sound somewhere inbetween Venom Prison and Employed to Serve
Like both of those bands Year of the Knife also position themselves as trying to push heavy music forward with more socially aware lyrics tackling subjects such as instability at home, addiction and mental health issues across the record. It is ‘Sick Statistic’ though which truly feels the most powerful in this regard as the song ends with vocalist Tyler Mullen screaming ‘Fix Me’ over and over again leaving a far more horrifying image than any of Cannibal Corpse’s blood-spattered tales.
Without taking anything away from the songs, the production job really is key to Internal Incarceration in many ways; it gives everything such weight and meatiness which pushes songs just that little bit further and means that every blow can be felt in your gut. It also allows vocal lines to somehow cut through everything else going on around them and helps bring attention to what the band are trying to say. Thanks to all of this, when tracks like ‘Manipulation Artist’ make the transition from all out speed into much slower breakdowns the impact is colossal.
The words ‘Kurt Ballou produced metallic hardcore record’ on their own seem to be a ready made sign of quality, but when you combine that with Year of the Knife’s own love of death metal riffing and a seething anger that can be heard in every note you get something really special indeed. At a time where hardcore seems to be going through a bit of a transition into a much wider scope, its wonderful to hear a band that still just want to kick your teeth in.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Stay Away’, ‘Sick Statistic’