It’s hard not to talk about the latest release from Year of the Knife without talking about what happened to them earlier this year. They were riding a high, taking the world by storm with their co-ed brand of hold-nothing-back, death metal-tinged hardcore. Then, the unthinkable happened — as we all know by now, the band was in a major van accident.
But that’s not intended to be the focus of this review. After listening to No Love Lost, it’s obvious that Year of the Knife has carved out a place in the hardcore metal world as a sort of reverse Sanguisugabogg, as they infuse just enough metal into their hardcore to make them heavy, cutting edge, catchy, and absolutely memorable.
No Love Lost, out October 27 via Pure Noise Records, is vicious, aggressive, and absolutely pummeling. Where before, they were tight but a little casual and punk in places, they are sharply honed in now, leaving no breathing room in any of their songs—and that’s a good thing.
Recorded by Kurt Ballou and keeping it under the half-hour mark for the full record, the band manage to accomplish so much in that time. The singles from the record, “Wish” and “Last Laugh,” both clock in at under 100 seconds. If you think this is a cop-out, think again. These songs are punishing and memorable, especially “Last Laugh,” which has their typical dystopian fury.
Speaking of Sanguisugabogg, “Wish” features Devin Swank of that band showing off his vocal fury alongside vocalist Madi Watkins, which adds a lot to her delivery as the two share duties and play off of each other. Dylan Walker of Full of Hell adds his vocal stylings to “Last Laugh,” creating a haunting, chilling vibe that Year of the Knife don’t usually have.
There are some other really solid bangers on the album besides the singles. Actually, with such a dense album and such short and sweet songs, there is zero time wasted on this release, so there are really no throw-away songs.
This makes it hard to pick out favorite, but my personal choice is “Heaven Denied,” as it does all the things Year of the Knife are known for: side-splitting choruses, breakdowns veiled in heavy vocals, and a memorable chorus. The title track is also one of the most solid offerings on the record, as it perfectly encapsulates the band’s ethos on this album with fast, tight riffing and frantic vocals. “Your Control” is also one of the heaviest songs from any band, and the guitar work on that track is exceptional.
At this point, it’s old news that the band were in a horrible accident back in June that injured all four members. We all know the story of how Madi’s injuries forced her to endure an extended stay in the hospital from which she was only recently released. While supporting smaller bands is always a good move, if your hardcore budget is limited, keep in mind that buying this album will directly benefit the band’s ongoing recovery efforts.
While we don’t normally include quotes from the bands in our review, it’s important to recognize how important No Love Lost is to the band. For bassist and Madi’s husband, Brandon Watkins, this album is more than just product, given its release during such a crucial time for Year of the Knife.
“This record represents so many things for us. It’s Madi’s big debut, her second set of recordings and first ever LP singing for YOTK. In my opinion, she CRUSHES. It was super hard to come to the decision to release the record while she’s still recovering. The record was originally supposed to start rolling out in July, but with everything that happened, we thought it best to wait. Now that Madi’s more aware of what’s going on, I think she’ll be really excited. And we’re really excited to share this record with all of you.”
Don’t sleep on this record. Year of the Knife have always been unrelenting and powerful, but this record is even more so.
Year of the Knife’s No Love Lost is out on Friday, October 27 via Pure Noise Records.
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