You’re going to see (or have seen) a lot of hot takes about this album in the coming weeks. Lots of early calls for album of the year/decade. Lots of comparisons to Code Orange and their 2017 landmark album Forever. And lots of phrases like “genre-defining”, “bar raising”, and “the future of metal/metalcore/metallic harcore”.
In many ways, this album is deserving of all the praise showered upon it. Knocked Loose are unrelenting and ruthless from start to finish on this thing. A Different Shade of Blue is jammed packed with wall-to-wall riffs. There’s a ton of variety and nuance to these riffs, as the band makes use of dissonance, groove, thrash, death metal, sludge, and of course classic hardcore breakdowns. When it comes to hardcore and metal, solid intro riffs are key, but Knocked Loose have also mastered the art of the outro riff (see “By the Grave”, “In the Walls”, and “Mistakes Like Fractures”).
But it takes more than just killer riffs to make a great album. Everything is brought together by powerhouse drummer Kevin Kaine (aka “Pac Sun”). He accents the riffs in all the right places, and makes solid judgement calls when injecting groove and speed respectively into songs. What’s great about this album is that it feels like it was recorded without a click track. Everything is played in time, but you can feel the energy of musicians feeding off of each other. The band keeps you on the edge of your seat with seamless tempo changes and flawless use of suspense.
The production on this thing is damn near perfect. The guitars are menacing, the drums are pummeling, and that fuzz bass will eat you for breakfast. Producer Will Putney did an excellent job of capturing the raw energy of this band. There’s enough clarity without sounding too polished or overproduced, yet it also sounds powerful and sludgy. All five members’ performances are balanced perfectly – nothing gets lost in the mix.
And to top things off, the vocals are intense! Lead vocalist Bryan Garris gives his all on each line in every song. His performance is uncompromising, and is complemented well by backing guttural roars from lead guitarist Isaac Hayes. The guest vocals on here are awesome as well. Hardcore legend Keith Buckley makes an excellent appearance on “Forget Your Name”. The standout vocal performance, however, goes to Emma Boster (Dying Wish), who guests on “A Serpent’s Touch”. She sounds unhinged and out for blood.
I don’t know what else to say – this album fuckin’ rips! They made breakdowns cool again. This album doesn’t just grab your attention, it seizes it and raises a flag colored A Different Shade of Blue. Knocked Loose have created a monster that will lay waste to everything in its path. And this is all going to be insane live!
Best Tracks: A Serpent’s Touch, Guided by the Moon, By the Grave, Mistakes Like Fractures, Denied by Fate
Weakest Tracks: n/a
FFO: Code Orange, Vein, Employed to Serve, Comeback Kid
Overall Score: A