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29 September 2013

Album Review: Bloody Knives || Death. Reviewed by Dan Joy & partially cross posted from The Active Listener blog.

Album Review: 
Bloody Knives || Death EP
Reviewed by Dan Joy (Asst. Editor at WTSH)
Partially cross posted from the excellent music blog

You haven’t heard any music that sounds very much like that of Austin, Texas trio Bloody Knives. At least, I haven’t heard anything—with the exception to some extent of earlier material by the band—that sounds much like the six short tracks on the band’s vinyl-only EP Death, recently released on Saint Marie Records. How often do we honestly get to say that a band or recording is truly that distinctive?

This is intense, pummeling, unsettling music, sometimes featuring sharp, startling turns and contrasts. A formidable surge of synthetic industrial sound is underpinned and propelled by classic, riveting punk drumming, with smooth, clear, almost crystalline vocals hovering above. These are components that “shouldn’t” work together and one might almost say couldn’t possibly work together as well as they do here.

Find also in this admixture touches of spacerock, a shoegaze appreciation for complexity of texture (the sound is super-fuzzy), dazzling runs of what sound like vintage prog keyboard leads, washes of noise, and a few interludes of abstract ambient beauty. An Austin outlet described the band’s sound as “rock/stoner metal/psychedelic”[1] and the metal connection has come up elsewhere as well, remarkably so given that the band works without guitars. How ever one might identify the various elements, they come together into a unique, eerie, compelling whole that can’t adequately be communicated by summing up its parts.

Lyrics and thematic content are as darkly intense as the sonic experience and are consistent with the mercilessness of the band name and the stark album title. Every track is a vignette in which a few brief phrases are repeated in an incantatory manner to evoke the viewpoint of a different, historically actual serial killer. Song names include “Waiting For You to Die,” “Kill You All,” and “Bullet in Your Head.”

One could easily expect music with such thrash, drive, and horrific themes to be topped off with vocals that are shouted, screamed, or growled. Instead we get gently legato phrases sung with cool liquid clarity. Echoing the completely unempathetic nature of the truly sociopathic mind, the detached quality of the vocal delivers a coldness even more suitable to the themes and more frightening than predictably theatric expressions of murderous rage or psychotic agony ever could have been...