The seeds and birth of Californian outfit Knifes is fascinating, a compelling story and history which grabs attention yet it is still majorly eclipsed by the band’s debut EP. Proof of Concept is a striking and hungrily virulent slab of rock ‘n’ roll, a furore of familiarity, individuality and enterprise which quite simply demands attention.
In a way Knifes’ first breath was when in Brazil vocalist/guitarist Ben Young played two shows with Linkin Park as lead guitarist when Brad Delson, who Young teched for, got sick. This sparked him to write his own songs and to team up with drummer Warren Johnson, another Linkin Park roadie. Out of their jams together Knifes was born and completed when, the pair now working for Fall Out Boy, enlisted bassist Brian Diaz, long-time bass tech for Pete Wentz. Behind them the three have worked for the likes of Guns ‘N Roses, Slipknot, Deftones, Black Eyed Peas, and Pharrell Williams with Young and Diaz still with Fall Out Boy and Johnson working with Slipknot. It is a thick mix of experiences which unites in many ways in the creation and sound of Proof of Concept, a release which more than suggests the potential of Knives becoming as well-known and successful as those aforementioned artists.
The Knifes sound is a rich mix of rock flavours carrying anthemic power and prowess bred in nineties rock inspirations. As the five tracks making up Proof of Concept reveals it is as voracious as it is contagious and throughout more than a little grunge dirty and punk belligerent. EP opener, The Comedown, epitomises the lure and adventure of sound and songwriting alike. Out of its web of intrigue coaxing sounds, riffs crawl around ears with the magnetically grumbling tones of Diaz’s bass in close quarter. Simultaneously Johnson’s beats even with their unrushed assault land with bone shuddering effect, it all adding darker edges to the inherent infectiousness which fuels the outstanding track and its Stone Temple Pilots meets Foo Fighters meets Therapy?-esque character.
As striking as it is, the song is quickly eclipsed by our favourite within the EP; Disambiguation a stunning slice of addictive rock ‘n’ roll. From its first breath, grooves tunnelled through speakers and under the skin. Its instinctive anthemic roar is quickly in place and setting the tone even in its momentary passage of catchy calm which subsequently erupts in open voracity again, it all seemingly more hungry and certainly addictive across each following cycle. The underlying tempestuousness to it all escapes in the imagination entangling web of aberrant enterprise which further lights up one of the year’s best tracks and one of the reasons we feel Knifes will become a big deal at some point.
Standard Issue Frustration is next up, the track a darker, dirtier slab of punk lined irritability. It prowls and nags the listener, its riffs primal and rhythms bordering on the nasty yet within the song still breeds a virulent temptation accentuated by Young’s potent if equally quarrelsome vocals. Pugnacity colours it’s every move, its grizzled growl and tetchy breath barely tempered by that raw catchiness but united it makes for another compelling trespass and incitement before Defeated and Humiliated revels in the bands more poppy instincts. In saying that it still snarls and bites at every turn, the bass again a riveting grievance at its heart, but there is no escaping or refusing the almost Smash Mouth like pop punk holler which is borne of its ornery heart.
Completed by a cover of the Aimee Mann song Wise Up, Knifes embracing its charm and beauty before bringing out its rawest emotion and Rocket From The Crypt like drama and intensity, Proof of Concept is a seriously thrilling introduction leaving us drooling for more.
Whatever the colourful story behind Knifes, their first EP suggests the bigger and richer tale is yet to come.
Proof of Concept is out now across most online stores and streaming sites.
Pete RingMaster 16/10/2020