Published Aug 20, 2019There is something about Knocked Loose. Nobody is quite sure what it is. Their 2016 debut, Laugh Tracks, certainly showed promise throughout, but was also seasoned with tripe mosh calls that would usually not find a place in metal's mainstream. Is it the ragged, yet grooving riffs? A relentless touring cycle? There is no clear-cut answer for the Kentucky phenom, but their space in the general public's eye (even Halsey and Post Malone have paid their respects) is unlike any other sleeper success.
On A Different Shade of Blue, Knocked Loose elaborate on their most primal aversions with memorable passages in subtle, yet striking songwriting. In the introductory "Belleville," vocalist Bryan Garris and company demand to "make me feel" via mature and deliberate metallic hardcore. An excellent way to start off a sophomore record, sure. But like any great intro — informed and enticing — it is politely (and painfully) obvious that the group do not intend to throw away their hand of cards in the first three minutes.
Oldham County, Kentucky is — as Garris described to Exclaim! — "not necessarily the most exciting place for a band to come to" but also "an all-in deal… where [one must] work to be a part of the music scene or it won't exist." This crux is felt throughout Shade, an amalgamation of sub-genres that never commits to a singular metalcore flavor, yet still remains steadfast to the principles of hardcore music.
Garris screams of pain, error and what the weight of both can do to one's psyche on first single "Mistakes Like Fractures," where guitarist Isaac Hale manages to turn breakdowns into a choruses, or perhaps vice-versa? It is overtly catchy and listeners will be too caught up in the song's driving tempos to debate it. Subsequent track "Forget Your Name" touches on severing ties with a foe via Devourment/Deadguy hybrid worship, and features Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley. Many names could be dropped in conversation about what Knocked Loose do (or do not) sound like, but no act comes nearly as close to this group's wicked game of precision.
Second single "… And Still I Wander South" is exactly what musicians should mean when they say their next release is heavier and more nuanced. In this case, it sounds like Crowbar trying to catch a first-degree murder charge. They recall the speeding d-beat of Integrity in the first quarter of "Denied by Fate," and later demonstrate self-awareness with a transitory "go!" call-out between the cut's plentiful breakdowns. More evidently, these songs cement Knocked Loose as the natural fruition of hardcore and metal's historic harmony.
"A Serpent's Touch" features Dying Wish vocalist Emma Boster, and is guided by chugging binary guitar work. Breakdowns are cliché to some, but Knocked Loose use them confidently as a means to transition through their muddy licks and sought-after scream-alongs. Hale endorses third single "Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory" as "a reflection of how stupidly heavy a song can sound" with zero error. The song is chock to the brim with shrieks, slams, thrash and chugs that reach immeasurable intensity.
Mosh metal has every reason to be uninteresting in 2019, and Knocked Loose want none of it. The effort's strongest track, "By the Grave," meanders between Swedish death metal and heaviest of the Snapcase catalogue, never once staying consistent but making the journey and destination all the more interesting. A Different Shade of Blue is a disciplined meditation on resentment, grief and loss. "I am stuck inside your head, and I hope it fucking kills you," Garris utters before the song's final bit of turmoil. Truthfully, that's the essence of his band. (Pure Noise)