Remember the “screamo” era? Remember the Hot Topic/Victory Records bum rush that transformed malls across the country into some sort of swoosh-gelled hair/80s tight-pants-revival nightmare with sing/scream vocals? It was the Hot Pockets of music: all empty calories. But if you were witness to the “screamo” thing at all back then, you knew there was an ocean of difference between City of the Caterpillar and Hawthorne Heights. Nowadays, it seems like people know the difference. But maybe that’s just the hardcore/punk part of me speaking (oddly) optimistically.
Knife Hits is going to invoke the screamo tag and command comparisons to bands like Pg. 99 and Orchid whatever one does. And if you don’t know those bands, well, you have an internet connection, you have YouTube; give ‘em a listen and then come back to this. It’s not entirely necessary, but it’ll give you perspective on where this comes from. There is more in the bag here than just harking back to the past though. Knife Hits Eris is a familiar bag but loaded with a wrecking ball, ambition and a short attention span.
Of course, you might be thrown for a bit of a loop to begin with. There’s a storm before the chaos that brews up immediately with “Second Death.” It’s a fast paced, melodic piece of dissonance that sounds like it’s being played in a concrete cell. It’s the sort of thing that gives the listener a damning perspective. And despite being just shy of two-minutes, it evokes a sense of isolation. Then the instruments come and things flesh out before the band bring start carving their dark poetry into the walls.
Melodramatic as I made it just sound, Knife Hits do inspire a crap load of chaos on twelve tracks, and in a mere twenty-three-minutes. The third track, the one that really opens the ground, is a grinding ripper called “Descent” that is one of the fastest, hardest tracks on the album. “Iconoclast” is a strong contender for second place however. Following “Descent” is “Perpetual Lethargy,” and by this point Knife Hits shows that they’re not just one note. Guitar leads and melodic sections are scattered throughout the album, which manage to keep things constantly interesting; it’s a fusion of old school sensibilities with a modern approach.
Knife Hits also punch up some sludge inspirations as well. No, it’s not Eyehategod, but dashes of Cowards isn’t out of the realm of inspirational possibility. When tracks slow down, the band feels like they’re raging through the distorted muck and still spitting venom. Eris is restless at all times, regardless of what’s going on. The difference is whether the band is using a sledgehammer to bludgeon the listener, or a, well, knifing the jugular.
Eris is an assault of a record. It’s a fusion of bands like PALA and Pg. 99 with a grind-ier, more distorted/noisy side. At its most aggressive it actually sounds like Mark McCoy’s Failures, and at its slowest, it sounds like City of the Caterpillar dosing on Cowards with the fat trimmed. It’s a screamo/hardcore album in the end, and one that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s always interesting but it’ll also take a few listens to really get into. Things move quickly, even when they’re slow. Still, it has the guts to spark a genre revival and evolution.