Knoll Make Themselves Heard on 'As Spoken'

BY Jeremy SheehyPublished Jan 23, 2024


Grindcore has long been one of the most extreme, underground and least approachable forms of heavy music. Despite that, the genre has started to find its way into the metal mainstream in recent years, with bands like Full of Hell and Wormrot achieving crossover success within and outside the greater metal community.

With two full-length albums under their belt, Knoll have already made a name for themselves in the underground metal world with their blackened, noisy take on grindcore. But As Spoken might just be their watershed moment; it's a thrillingly dark affair with all of the hallmarks of the genre's great albums that still manages to surprise whenever the opportunity arises.

As Spoken opens on its titular track and immediately gets to work cultivating a suffocating and chaotic atmosphere. Before the first notes of music hit, a static-laced wind sweeps in, eventually fading into the background as the pummeling rhythms and shrieking vocals come to the forefront. However, its presence never entirely disappears, instead adding to the already brooding atmosphere at play. A critical factor in creating that foreboding is that the faster and more traditional grindcore passages are given a chance to breathe. These more conventional sections are lodged between old-school death metal riffage, horrifying noise-influenced passages and even some surprisingly melodic horn phrases.

These passages, along with the many other subversions of grindcore norms, are what make As Spoken so special. Take penultimate track "Fettered Oath”; while it initially feels more traditional, the addition of horns pushes it into special territory, something melodic to grasp in the heavy maelstrom that surrounds. They are the guiding light in the sonic storm, taking a genre that can exhaust with its darkness and turning it into something imbued with joy.

As Spoken is an excellent grindcore album, but it's more than that, too. It's the kind of album that should push Knoll out of the underground and into the pantheon of new grindcore greats, and while it might not please the purists, it's an example of just how deep this genre can go. 


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