Knife’s Knife is as succinct as it is, well, cutting. And while the Motörhead, Midnight, and Venom comparisons will take few by surprise, there’s an undeniable vigor and charm to “Inside the Electric Church,” “K.N.I.F.E.,” and the rest of the album’s twelve songs that makes it noteworthy and, more importantly, a particularly fun listen.
First and foremost, Germany’s Knife sounds like a great live band. Perhaps that’s an odd statement to make about recorded music but it’s one that encapsulates the unitary feel of Knife—the band and the album. There’s an immediacy to the band’s sound that feels, if not accessible, inviting. Rightfully, the blackened speed metal aesthetic is a vehicle for the songs, and there are some real hooks here. Regardless of whether songwriting is a team effort in the Knife camp, the band sounds dialed in and they all seem to have bought into a mission of kickass riffs delivered in a bite-size package.
To the band’s credit, one look at the song titles and you know what you’re getting into. “Behold the Horse of War.” “White Witch Black Death.” “I am the Priest.” “Demon Wind.” No one is playing coy here. Dying Victims Productions describes Knife’s influences as “classic hard rock and heavy metal to first-wave black metal and punk” and its sound as “nasty.” Sounds about right. The first wave black metal more aptly describes Vince Nihil’s vocals than Knife’s specific sound, but it’s certainly part of the band’s composition. And there’s an ease with which the band incorporates these influences that sounds more organic than it might suggest on paper (or screen, as it were).
Near equal parts punk and metal, the guitar-driven Knife will appeal to fans of the aforementioned bands but at times feels rooted in the more outwardly punk speed and heavy metal of bands such as Inepsy, Children of Technology, G.A.T.E.S., and Barbatos. The metal in “The Furnace” and “Sword Loser, for example,” is undeniable. Yet there’s a strong undercurrent of punk—shouted vocals, blunt lyrics, general speed and pace—that is as much in the driver’s seat as metal. Neither metal nor punk are examined in isolation. Rather, the two co-exist and function to provide a punchiness that is part of the album’s charm.
Hyperbole, without a doubt, but with some semblance of truth, the label states that the album is “[a]t once comfortingly familiar but exuding a charisma and star power which elevates into the halls of greatness.” Regardless of what does or does not belong in said halls of greatness, Knife does in fact sound comfortingly familiar. And it’s the charisma that makes that comforting familiarity an enduringly interesting feeling. “Inside the Electric Church,” for example, would not sound misplaced on Midnight’s Satanic Royalty, and its chorus is catchy but decidedly minimalist. Yet there’s a dynamism and a play with pace that feels fresh. It’s that feeling that gives Knife the band its identity and makes Knife the album a rewarding listen.