(Pure Noise Records)
Between getting prime tour placement and building via word of mouth, Kentucky’s Knocked Loose have felt like hardcore’s next big thing, so their Pure Noise debut was certain to come with lofty expectations. Theirs is a sound that is both quite familiar and somewhat their own: Comeback Kid at their heaviest with some added doses of Slayer riffs and Code Orange-style malice. However, Knocked Loose haven’t garnered attention by their sound alone, as Laugh Tracks is permeated by a palpable sense of raw, unbridled emotion. This is the sort of music that is typically much better in the live setting, so it’s a huge credit to Knocked Loose that their debut is still a massive success.
Knocked Loose play loose with genre conventions, straddling the line between metallic, melodic, and beatdown hardcore, and it helps give these songs a sense of identity, which is really difficult with when a band loves breakdowns as much as Knocked Loose. It’s something that drags down some of the highlights, like “Oblivions Peak”, which starts the album out ferociously, only to be slightly bogged down by the extended breakdown. The same goes for “Billy No Mates”, although the breakdowns feel more essential to the song here, even if they are a tad abundant. Thankfully, Laugh Tracks is buoyed by excellent riffs and Bryan Garris’ impassioned vocals. The highlights are too many to name because Knocked Loose sound like a band who’ve been doing this for a long time. Their understanding of dynamics is impressive, and what’s more impressive is the circle pit I’m about to have in my office.
There’s little question that Knocked Loose are onto something special here. While endemic issues related to hardcore certainly plague them, it’s clear they have a bright future ahead of them. Laugh Tracks is just a joy to listen to, with a near-perfect ratio of riffs to breakdowns and songs that are just melodic enough. They don’t sound that much like Comeback Kid, but Knocked Loose has the potential to release an album as universally loved as Wake the Dead, and they got close on their debut. Impressive.