Op-ed: A Response to MetalSucks' "Let's Talk About Knocked Loose" article

28 July 2019 | 3:08 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Using an op-ed to respond to another article really is peak media in 2019.

An op-ed responding to another article is peak 2019 media.

Earlier this week, MetalSucks published an article on the latest Knocked Loose song, 'Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory', called "Let's Talk About Knocked Loose", written by Vince Neilstein. To say the least, it caused quite the stir online, with their tweet sharing said article getting ratio'd into the fuckin' sun. If only for the fact that it was a website like MetalSucks talking about a popular hardcore band like Knocked Loose.

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To be fair, I actually don't mind MetalSucks, for the most part; I've enjoyed a lot of their content over the years. They've written some solid reviews in their time, put out some great articles - like this response piece to that savage Greta Van Fleet Pitchfork review - and they've even written some great headlines too. On that last part, their best headline is still "“Phreqs”: Portal Sell Out, Introduce Music into Their Music', which still makes me chuckle. (Portal are mental and 'Ion' was quite good.)

What's interesting is that MetalSucks made their name writing pieces just like this; expressing their love or distaste for something in their own way, whether they were right or wrong; regardless of whether it would be a lonely hill to die on or not in terms of the larger musical discussion. But they've never cared if what they wrote was against the grain or not, as they knew people would always react to it. Articles like this Knocked Loose one aren't the first nor the last of their kind for this publication. As such, it's just amusing to me that people haven't figured out their process yet, and that fans continue to play right into what those guys want in terms of building up more social capital (likes, retweets, comments and replies, etc.) and traffic via "controversial" content. It's why they went after Todd Jones from Nails, and it's why they double-down on certain individuals or bad actors in black metal when and where they can. While I may disagree with them at times, I give them kudos for knowing how to play the media and online field today.

Being apart of BlastBeat Network also helped them out too. That company owns MetalSucks, Lambgoat, Gear Gods, Cvlt Nation, Metal Injection, The PRP, and more. And having having a parent company owning multiple sites isn't anything new. Out here in Australia, The Brag Media - formerly known as Seventh Street Media - own all versions of The Brag, Don't Bore Us, Tone Deaf, and The Industry Observer, hence why you'll occasionally see either site cover one another or pat each other on the back.

I've always liked MS's no-fucks-given approach: they write what they want, how they want. For better or for worse. Whether you like them or not, they have their own voice in music media and they aren't regurgitating full press releases like certain large Aussie and international music publications still lazily do. However, in this specific case of their 'Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory' coverage, there's a few things mentioned that are quite odd, so let's get to the actual piece, whilst also remembering that it's fine to like something yet still find certain aspects of it to critique. (You should probably read their article first.)

To be clear, I'm far from the biggest Knocked Loose fan, and I have no problem with Vince not liking Knocked Loose. As not everything is for everybody; you can't win 'em all; you can't please everybody. And that's fine! He says as much in the third-last paragraph. Yet his comment about Bryan Garris' vocals being within a "Jacob Bannon hardcore yelp category" is kinda weird. Bryan sure has that angsty, vehement hardcore scream, but to specifically mention Jacob Bannon? Like, what? The only way someone could make that comparison legitimately is if they'd never heard Converge or if they had a minor stroke whilst writing said sentence. From his timbre to how he screams, Bryan doesn't really sound like Converge's leading man, and the way his vocals are mixed right into the foreground, as opposed to being further back alongside the instrumentals like Bannon's, are completely different. Bryan shares more similarities with Stray From The Path's Drew York (minus all those "what what" hype vocals); the guy from The Warriors, who Knocked Loose covered earlier this year; and the intensive yells of Jean-Philippe Lagacé, vocalist for the terrific yet criminally underrated crossover act, Get The Shot. If you've not heard Get The Shot before, check out my personal favourite song of theirs, 'Blackened Sun', which guest features Stick To Your GunsJesse Barnett. It's nuts!

Still, no one would say either of those other vocalists are akin to old mate Bannon. Yes, Converge are the dons of hardcore - they've done so much for this microcosm of heavy music - but there's much more accurate comparisons to be made. Comments that are stranger still given the introduction of guitarist Isaac Hale and his lower death metal growls and grunts in the recent Knocked Loose material that compliment Bryan's own. If Vince was talking about the decent new LP from Hundreds Of AU, 'Mission Priorities On Launch', and made the same vocal comparison to that of Bannon, then I'd agree with him. But we're not talking about that band; we're talking about Knocked Loose. And their new song is all the better for how impassioned Bryan sounds and the lyricism of the track.

[caption id="attachment_1107643" align="aligncenter" width="760"] 'A Different Shade Of Blue' is out August 23rd via Pure Noise Records.[/caption]

The next strange comment sees Vince aligning this Kentucky band to that of Cave In, specifically 1999's 'Until Your Heart Stops' LP, as well as that of The Acacia Strain; saying that Knocked Loose borrow heavily from both. First of all, yes, Knocked Loose have grown heavier recently, taking on more death metal influences to expand their metallic hardcore sound; the kind that puts them into the realm of metalcore revivalists like Renounced, Jesus Piece, and Dying Wish. (Three great bands; the latter of whom whose vocalist, Emma Boster, guests on the new Knocked Loose album, funnily enough.) You can see this in-action with recent singles, 'Mistakes Like Fractures', as well as '...And Still I Wander South', and how Isaac has brought a lot to the table, both in the vocal and guitar riff sectors. Yet to liken this song and the band to Acacia Strain and very early Cave In - a band who doesn't remotely sound like their first album now in 2019 - is off-base. Maybe the newer TAS material would work in this case, but even then, just referring new Knocked Loose to that of new Kublai Khan would've worked better for his argument.

In the article's second half, Vince states that younger listeners under the age of 25 just aren't aware of older bands, but as they weren't around for those heydays, they have a "good excuse" as they don't apparently know any better in liking new bands, such as Knocked Loose. I actually do agree with this to SOME extent: as some people my age (I'm 24) just don't know the older artists that inspired the current crop of artists. And sometimes, they just don't care. Which is fine too, honestly. I know plenty of people who only listen to what's popular in hardcore and metalcore right now. People, some of whom are good friends, who'll only listen to your Every Time I Die's, your Code Orange's, your Architects', and ironically enough, your Knocked Loose's. Yet they'll never seek out older, different or underground heavy artists. I'm not saying those people are wrong, not at all, but there is some truth to what he's getting at here about younger individuals who don't care to research any further or do their homework on the bands and styles that they love.

However, even if you missed a band's "heyday" because you're younger, it's not like the internet somehow gates off older heavy bands from the 90's - or from before whatever your time was - until you're a certain age. That's just silly, but it's why we've seen that cringey "born the wrong generation" phenomenon of late. I mean, if you want to watch Cave In, as Vince first brought them up, crush 'Juggernaut' live back in 2003, but you were only eight-years-old back then, YouTube's now got you covered.

That age comment is also ironic because Vince then doesn't mention any other older bands and how their sound actually pertains to Knocked Loose. Because when it comes to this band, and many of their peers like label mates SeeYouSpaceCowboy and Sanction, there's loads of Disembodied and Turmoil influences to be had. What with the breakdowns, riff patterns, dissonant notes, pinches, and the general heavy hardcore nature of the music. Those older bands aren't better or worse than the new blood, they just came first. And there's nothing wrong with mentioning that: you can point out who Knocked Loose may be inspired by, and still enjoy what they're doing as a band now in the current year. New doesn't always mean better, but the same can go for old too, and vice versa.

Look, at least Vince was honest about what he thought, also mentioning at the end of the piece that his "old man rant" is over and for anyone feel free to call him an idiot. Which many on the internet since have. So there's a sense of self-awareness going on, which is good to see. (But don't even get me started on him seemingly thinking that the band's "beef" with Taylor Swift was legit.)

Anyway, that's my takeaway. Go and listen to Knocked Loose's 'Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory', below and get keen for 'A Different Shade Of Blue.' And yes, I've heard this new record. Yes, it's fucking sick. Yes, it's better than 'Laugh Tracks.' And yes, there will be a really positive review of it coming. (Also, please don't go and send hate towards MS, they've gotten more than enough of that already this week due to their original article.)