Knife The Symphony – Please Knife The Symphony

Knife The Symphony
Please Knife The Symphony

Knife The Symphony, a relatively new band out of Cincinnati, has formulated a manifesto involving the destruction of the mainstream. It is the band’s declaration. Whether the bitterness is born from a frustration with the current state of indie music or whether its source is the banality of MTV and FM radio, it’s hard to tell. The result so far, though, is the EP Please Knife The Symphony, and the band shows some promise in its fight.

The power trio owes a debt to God Machine, whose decade-old recordings laid the groundwork for bass-heavy grinds like those on this EP. The five songs here hit like a hammer when they want to. There are some subtleties as well, but most of it is heavy and dark. “The Victim Who Believes” slithers like an early Unwound track: the cyclical bassline, the choppy guitar, the steady drumming. Though less inventive rhythmically than Unwound, it’s a decent take on that band’s material.

“Solemn Solon” starts with guitar energy approximating Les Thugs. It breaks things down about a minute in, letting the effect-smoothed bass sit underneath echo-laden guitar slides, before it gears up again. The drive at the end of the song is fueled by the repeated chant of “Your goddamn ego,” and I have to guess this ties into the band’s manifesto. Well, that or it’s maybe a rant against an ex.

The lead track, “Common Elements,” swings in 3/3 time while it rocks like Traindodge or, again, Unwound. It’s tight. The guitar chords may get a little predictable and repetitive where instead they might have changed things up a bit for variation’s sake, but overall it’s a good run. “An Astonomer’s Plea” closes the EP with six minutes of Traindodge-like rhythmic and guitar intensity. We also get to hear bassist Robyn Roth sing some backup, which provides a nice counterpoint to the heaviness of the track.

The standout track for me is “Summer’s Decay.” Which begins with a few dissonant guitar notes repeated and looped backwards. It builds into a frenetic, tense chaos that resolves once the drums beat out a steady, galloping backbeat. This track seems to capture the best of what the band has to offer. It’s concise (even at four minutes) and a little off-kilter but it has the right mix of tension and drive. It even had me thinking for some reason of Killing Joke’s Fire Dances, minus the visceral tribalism on that outstanding album. It’s also the closest the band comes to equaling or bettering its more celebrated influences, which is saying a lot. Really nice work on “Summer’s Decay” — I hope it gets some attention from college radio and the kingmakers in the blogosphere.

The production here is above average. The instruments come through clearly and separately. The snare drum and cymbals cut through the mix especially well. This attention to the drums might have something to do with the fact that drummer Jerry Dirr runs the band’s Phratry Records, but who’s to say. It will be interesting to see how soon the band puts out a proper album and what direction it will take. I hope for more tracks like “Summer’s Decay.”