Album Review: Year Of The Knife – Internal Incarceration

Album Review: Year Of The Knife - Internal Incarceration

Album Review: Year Of The Knife - Internal Incarceration
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Internal Incarceration is the Delaware-based Straight Edge crew’s debut album, after last year’s compiled EP and odds & ends release, Ultimate Aggression. Although Year of the Knife may not be a band on everyone’s radar at the moment, this album seems to capture the insanity of 2020, thematically, conceptually and even down to the very title itself. I think this far into lockdown we can all relate to those pangs of cabin fever, both physically and cognitively.

Year of the Knife aren’t here to make you feel better about the situation, rather to hold up the world to scrutiny. When you discover Internal Incarceration was recorded by Converge’s Kurt Ballou it all begins to make sense. Year of the Knife’s world view is one in which loss, grief and addiction - whether that be narcotic or technological – are enslaving factors and the music of Internal Incarceration reflects this.

From the outset their intent is writ-large as This Time pummels and grinds, spat vocal are spewed above a huge, metronomic riff. Infused within Year of the Knife’s sound is a Death Metal influence which is particular apparent in the opening half of the record. From the flourishes in This Time to the opening of Virtual Narcotic to the out and out Morbid Angel-esque interlude on Final Tears, Year of the Knife could carve out a successful career among the illegible logos if this Hardcore thing doesn’t take off.

Year Of The KnifeInternal Incarceration is far from a one-trick pony. The ferocity of the Death Metal influences belie the fact that Year of the Knife are a very competent Hardcore act. The huge riffs and infectious hooks demonstrate their ability to hold their own against any of their contemporaries. The album’s title track is filled with massive hardcore beats and some of the breakdowns are so heavy as to exerting their own gravitational pull.

Sitting seamlessly alongside the Death Metal influence is the propensity of Internal Incarceration to turn to the big groove. Premonitions of You bounces like a drunk Gen X-er on a Space Hopper and Manipulation Artist, for all its dark and heavy subject matter, is built on an impossible catchy hook.

It would have been easy for Year of the Knife to deliver a by the numbers Hardcore debut, but it is to their credit that they have mixed it up all the way across Internal Incarceration. Ferocious Death Metal-influenced tracks are able to sit side by side with slower, more restrained music; rather than chugging incessantly, guitarists Aaron Kisielewski and Brandon Watkins have the space to utilise some sweeping guitar lines, demonstrating the depth of the album’s ideas.

Rhythm section of Andrew Kisielwski and Madison Watkins – twin brother and wife of previously mentioned guitar duo – hold everything together allowing Tyler Mullens to spit his vitriol.

Year of the Knife’s Internal Incarceration is half an hour of the dark side of the human condition laid bare and is, at times, unrelenting in its approach. This is not an album claiming to provide the answers, instead it’s a collection of songs that lets you know you’re not the only one asking them.

Album Review: Year Of The Knife - Internal Incarceration

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