Year of the Knife’s new album Internal Incarceration is out now.
What do you get when you unhesitatingly embrace the “all gas no breaks” approach? For some, the obvious answer would be a car crash, be it literal or metaphorical in meaning. In the hardcore scene, however, Year of the Knife made sure the answer was Internal Incarceration. Hailing from Delaware, the straight edge hardcore outfit finally came through with their second full-length album, and it’s just as unforgiving as it is brutally honest.
While their debut release Ultimate Aggression certainly had plenty of awe-inspiring moments throughout, it didn’t quite deliver on that promised belligerence. If tracks like ‘Y.O.T.K.’, ‘Fatal’, and ‘Blue Lies’ were demonstrative of the band’s raw power and sheer ability to create searing soundscapes, others such as ‘Ultimate Disease’ and ‘Untitled’ felt like their underwhelming middle-of-the-road counterparts.
Regardless, the more dynamic tune of Internal Incarceration rids itself of these constraints and brings forth a more ruthless and broad sound that never allows for a dull moment to take place. Unsurprisingly, the production work of Kurt Ballou (of Converge fame) on this record does it no disservice either. Ballou has been gathering a multitude of excellently produced records under his name over the years, and it’s safe to say this one surely does not make the exception.
The narrative in Internal Incarceration subsists on an arrangement of themes that ultimately converge on one greater reoccurring motif – the internal prison that we incessantly build in turn of our deterioration and the incarceration that emerges at the hands of self-destructive behaviour. The opening track ‘This Time’ – one that renounces the disruptive nature of greediness and excessive craving on the being – expends no time on introductions or build-ups, instead impatiently going straight for some hefty guitar riffs and relentless drumming sequences. On the follow-up track ‘Virtual Narcotic’, which is quite possibly the most punishing and intense track on the whole record in spite of it also being the shortest, the band expands on the overreliance on virtual devices and how they consequently end up enslaving and stripping us of sentiment.
Further down the tracklisting, we have the beatdown-infused ‘Premonitions of You’ that strongly advises on facing our problems head-on, along with ‘Sick Statistic’, a truthful and saddening depiction of what it is like to be caught on a never-ending spiral of drug abuse. Needless to say, though-provoking verses gushing with underlying meaning are out of the question here. ‘Internal Incarceration’, the title track, is straightforward with its intentions in the instrumental and lyrical department alike, and it is that same unequivocal bluntness that strings the whole record together so nicely.
Internal Incarceration is not without its drawbacks, however. Because it uninterruptedly delivers high-octane performances all the way through, that same engrossing and brutal display of power eventually starts wearing thin on the listener. Its impassable and almost unchanging level of intensity begins to overindulge and feel worn out at some point, making it difficult for the listener to remain focused on all that’s happening. Furthermore, some tracks can feel more like reiterations of previous concepts than fully-fledged and unique ideas. Still, and although this thirty-minute full-blown assault on the senses could have been slightly more concise and inventive in some respects, “Internal Incarceration” is unquestionably demonstrative of YOTK’s proficiency as one of hardcore’s most promising endeavours right now.