Knife – Knife Review

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself growing increasingly fond of the blackened speed metal subgenre. Something about the mix of simple, unrelenting riffs, vicious vocals and gleefully evil subject matter speak to my soul in a profound and fundamental way. But instead of exploring any of that in therapy, I just keep an eye out for the next morsel of Motörhead-worshipping, Venom-venerating filth that bobs to the surface of the promo sump. That’s exactly how I happened upon Knife, a blackened speed outfit hailing from Germany that traffic in this (un)heavenly concoction. And just like the bloated corpses that surface way too often in the aforementioned promo sump, Knife’s self-titled debut is obscene, grotesque, and I can’t bring myself to look away.

I appreciate albums that proudly declare their intentions long before you even press play. Taking a look at Knife’s cover art, from the bullet belt and leather-clad figure to the charging wolves, from the lightning-filled, blood-red sky to the stony ground erupting in magma and hellfire, you know more or less what you’re getting (besides plenty of lacerations and scorch marks): brash, rugged, no-frills metal that simultaneously worships the thrash and trad of the 80s and the icy, blackened vitriol of the 90s. Add in plenty of Motörhead and Venom-fueled riffs, a dash of Bathory, a dose of early Kreator, and plenty of hooks and gang-chanted choruses, and you’re in for one vicious treat; the kind they warned your parents about on the local news, because this candy is most assuredly filled with razor blades. Thomas Hobbes wrote that life is “…nasty, brutish and short.” While the jury may still be out on his pessimistic view of humanity, his assertion could just have easily been the lead sentence in the promo material for Knife. 

There isn’t a single substandard track on the album, and I find myself humming along or creepily singing the choruses quietly to myself during mundane daily activities, long after the last song ends. Such is Knife’s perverse ability to deftly carve their way into your brain. Opener “Behold the Horse of War” doesn’t waste time with atmospheric intros, choosing instead to pulverize you with runaway speed and a unified assault of shotgun blast drums, rancid riffs and blackened snarls. By the time the chorus comes around, your fist is already in the air, you’re banging your head, and your amygdala is giving your frontal lobe the finger. The subsequent six tracks, from “Inside the Electric Church” to “The Furnace” (with a special shout-out to the mighty chorus on “White Witch – Black Death” and the unapologetic trad metal anthem “Black Leather Hounds”) are well-executed, earworm bangers, flying past at lightning speed and leaving a lasting impression on your already bloodied eardrums. With only a few less-than-stellar exceptions, “Demon Wind,” “The Hallowed Chamber of Storms,” and album closer “Possessed,” with its demonic sounds effects and Motörhead-inspired riffage, perfectly round out this potent aural assault. I can’t overstate just how easily these songs continue to clang around in the old noggin once the album concludes, or how eager I was to dive in for seconds.

There are only a few spots where Knife fall short. “Sword Loser” doesn’t connect as well as some of the stronger songs, and while it certainly doesn’t disrupt repeated listens, it also isn’t a standout and can feel somewhat repetitive. Meanwhile penultimate track “1989” is a short, out-of-place instrumental interlude that doesn’t add much to the flow of the album and, although brief, could have easily been cut. If I’m being honest though, these all feel like very minor quibbles and don’t do much to detract from the strength of the album as a whole. 

The recent renaissance in quality blackened speed releases is a trend I’m glad to see continued on Knife’s debut. Like Blackevil, Bewitcher, Bütcher, and Hellripper before them, this blackened, speeding, punk-infused quartet have crafted an unapologetically aggressive, refreshingly straightforward metal album that revels in the excesses of the genre without overstaying its welcome. While no wheels are being reinvented here, you won’t have time to notice and more importantly, you won’t care because you’ll be too busy peeling yourself from the spiked treads of this Teutonic beast. So put your pinky down, throw the horns up, and give this platter a spin or three. I promise Knife’s edge is anything but blunt.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR:  | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Websites: dyingvictimsproductions.bandcamp.com/album/knife-knife | facebook.com/knifeofficial.de
Releases Worldwide: October 22nd, 2021

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