Review: Radiant Knife ‘Pressure’

Lafayette, Louisiana’s Radiant Knife are comprised of Greg Travasos on drums and Stephen Sheppert on guitar, synths and vocals. The band formed back in 2016 and their latest album, Pressure, follows up the well-received The Ghost EP which was the second instalment of a two-part series, the first of which being The Body EP.

Radiant Knife 'Pressure' Artwork
Radiant Knife ‘Pressure’ Artwork

According to the band, thematically the album mostly centres around ‘being sold on the American dream, but also realizing its oftentimes used as a thin veil to cloak a dubious system/entity aimed at bleeding you dry, even after death’ and the inevitable pressure that ensues.

Slumber opens with retro ‘80s synth before you are smashed directly in the face with pummelling sludge metal ala two-piece powerhouse Black Cobra, and like that band, the progressive elements are subtle. Prog can be off-putting as it has a tendency towards the meandering and whimsical, however by contrast Radiant Knife get the balance spot on with this here opening track.

Ghost Samurai is less frantic with crunchier riffs and atmospherics coming from the use of the aforementioned synth. In some respects, it feels a little more industrial in tone with riffs reminding one of bands such as Fear Factory or even Godflesh. A perfectly paced number, it’s guaranteed to get heads in the moshpit banging. Phil Collins Was Right (well there’s a first time for everything), is a melodic masterpiece and anthemic to boot with vocals soaring straight to the heavens. I was reminded of Big Business (Cats, Mice especially) during their detours into weirder experimental territory.

a genuinely diverse and engaging piece of work that I would have no hesitation in recommending…

Give Yourself Away has a doomier edge with parts recalling Norway’s finest Saint Karloff albeit with keyboards lifted straight from Roddy Bottum (Faith No More) but which never detracts from the music. A fascinating piece. Zeni Geva is mentioned in the promo notes and with Sunsets From Space there are moments when I am reminded of the eccentric Japanese metallic noiseniks. The stop-start math-rock/noise-rock dynamics of the track was a key feature of what appealed to me about that band when I witnessed them live at Supersonic Festival in Birmingham back in 2012 and it’s what garnered my attention here too. I suppose one could also draw comparisons to Maps and Atlases, albeit heavier and less indie orientated.

Mortals is the most direct sounding track I’ve heard so far and what you might expect to find on labels such as Trance Syndicate and Amphetamine Reptile back in the 1990s as well as from bands such as Cherubs and Karp. As a fan of those labels and bands, this makes it a certifiable winner and a personal favourite. His Capa Was Detated follows a similar trajectory to the preceding track, albeit with a few more stylistic twists and turns along the way while Cleanser nods to Melvins, Helmet and Therapy? with more alternative-metal influences on display.

Demon Legs is Pressure‘s longest track at over eight minutes and possibly the one which requires the most brainpower to fully wrap your head around. Musically, imagine the genteel pluckings of vintage Yes as well as the apocalyptic post-punk sounds of Killing Joke. It requires a few listens but persevere and you’ll find it concludes the album on a suitably rewarding note.

I conclude this review by stating that you shouldn’t let the initial genre descriptions of progressive sludge and math rock put you off what is a superbly crafted record. Radiant Knife manage to effortlessly bypass the tedious bloated pretensions of bands such as Baroness and Mastodon to forge what is a genuinely diverse and engaging piece of work that I would have no hesitation in recommending.

Label: Independent
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills