Album Review: Knocked Loose - 'Laugh Tracks'

22 September 2016 | 1:42 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Pinch, punch; every day of the month.

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Okay, let me get this out of the way now - Knocked Loose are a beatdown hardcore/metalcore band.

Now, if you’re familiar with these genres, you should have a very good idea of what to expect from this Kentucky outfit’s debut record, ‘Laugh Tracks’. Just so you know, your expectations are nearly as accurate as the ones you had for The Amity Affliction’s latest offering (assuming you were expecting a mere re-release of their last three full-lengths).

Anyway, back to the aforementioned point. K//L aren’t that much different to your average hardcore, breakdown-laden band, sure, but the big catch here is that they do it all very well. There’s no dispute that they’re one of the most hyped bands ‘in the scene’ right now and that is with good reason. Yes, they might not be bringing anything fresh or new to the worn-out table that is hardcore, but they sure do slam an unrivaled intensity right on top of your Sunday roast!

Vocalist Bryan Garris sounds absolutely tortured on this record, but not in a Sworn In copy-cat way. Rather, his vocal style is very distinguishable amongst a mostly vocally-stale genre of late. I doubt he's outdone his efforts on 'The Gospel', although tracks like 'Counting Worms' more than show off the amount of passion and furiousness necessary for such a - dare I say - angsty approach. Even his spoken word sequences on multiple tracks are menacing. The backing vocals provide much-needed variation in the pitch as they’re much heavier and lower, and are showcased well in tracks like 'A Fetish'.  Guest vocal performances by Garris’ younger brother on 'The Rain', and by label mate and Counterparts frontman Brendan Murphy on 'Billy No Mates' also help out on the vocal front too.

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While I’m naming names, have you ever heard of Harm's Way vocalist James Pligge? Well, more to the point, have you ever seen him? There’s been far too many ‘Harms Whey’ protein powder memes created in his honour, being the absolute unit he is. Anyway, every track present on 'Laugh Tracks' makes you want to take this bloke on, one on one. Seriously, the near entirety of the record is such a pump up, and the breakdowns within both 'Oblivions Peak' and 'Last Words' would possess a crowd to tear down even the biggest of venues. The drumming is consistently two-step inducing and the regular high-hat employment adds a solid layer to tracks such as 'A Fetish' and 'Counting Worms', while the typical hardcore ‘build up’ drum beats and fills within 'Billy No Mates' and 'The Rain' are fun, even if all too familiar. The riffs throughout the record are always catchy and solid (see: 'Deadringer'), while many dissonant chords & chugging lead combos are reminiscent of ‘Killing With A Smile’ era Parkway Drive. 'Blood Will Have Blood' exemplifies this so well, and truly furthers the notion that ‘Laugh Tracks' will be a favourite for the live-orientated listeners.

I'm praying every day for that Australian Tour announcement, just sayin’.

Of course, lyrics are such a cornerstone of hardcore music. Lyrically, this record is also exactly what you’d expect from such a band. Personal struggles, anti-conformity, anger toward corrupt establishments, and so on. There’s even a “motherfucker” and “son of a bitch” in there too, for good measure. This all seems very natural, though, rather than just for the sake of being ‘edgy’ or ‘tough’. In fact, a lot of heavy bands these days are heavy just for the sake of being heavy and that’s how K//L set themselves apart. They genuinely give the impression that there’s no gimmick and that their anger is not forced. Listeners respect honesty, and these dudes sure are honest!

Will Putney’s production duties behind the desk definitely backup the music, keeping the tone hard-hitting in the usual hardcore fashion, but without sacrificing any of the polish or resorting to a "demo-like" quality. This, however, can also contribute to the major downfall of the record and that's that most songs simply blend into one another. Upon a few full listens, there really aren’t too many highly memorable moments. Songs like 'My Heroes' and 'Deadringer' sound eerily similar at times and the structures start to become too predictable. The breakdown in 'Oblivions Peak' sounds like 'Choke' by Counterparts, 'The Rain’s' intro is very similar to 'Paranoia' by A Day to Remember/'What Choice Did You Give Us' by Stick to Your Guns, while parts of 'Last Words' can be very much likened to 'Forced to See' by Reactions (killer hardcore band from Adelaide, highly recommended).

Now, I’m nitpicking, but my impression of these songs definitely changed because of this observation. Therefore, I recommend listening to songs on their own for optimal enjoyment.

If you're looking to be impressed be musical or lyrical originality, I would advise looking elsewhere. If you're looking to channel your fury and rage better than ever before (except for 'Slowburn'/'My World' by Code Orange - let's be honest here), I would strongly recommend listening to what is one of the best mosh albums of 2016; 'Laugh Tracks'.

1. Oblivion's Peak

2. Deadringer

3. The Rain

4. Blood Will Have Blood

5. Counting Worms

6. My Heroes

7. Billy No Mates

8. Last Words

9. No Thanks

10. A Fetish

11. Laugh Tracks

'Laugh Tracks' is out now.