AlbumsJuly 25, 20232,678 views

Radiant Knife Pressure


Pressure
1. Slumber 2. Ghost Samurai 3. Phil Collins Was Right 4. Give Yourself Away 5. Sunsets From Space 6. Mortals 7. His Capa Was Detated 8. Cleanser 9. Demon Legs
2023 self-released
Our score 7

7/25/2023

When it comes to music these days, two is enough. Between the likes of Friendship Commanders, Big Business, and, one of my faves, Anaal Nathrakh, the rise of competent, interesting duo bands is something to behold. As of now, we can add Radiant Knife to that list, a twosome from South Louisiana made up of Stephen Sheppert (guitars, keys, vocals) and Greg Travasos (drums) who are dead set on offering some sensational melody and heaviness in just about equal parts.

Pressure sees them develop a loose concept - “While not every song deals with it, a lot of the album's lyrics center around being sold on the American dream, but also realizing it's oftentimes used as a thin veil to cloak a dubious system/entity aimed at bleeding you dry, even after death.” While capitalist and political hellscape-influenced music is all the rage these days, Pressure is surprisingly upbeat and fun sonically, though maybe that’s by design. While it’s fine enough to dip into the drear and double down on a downer theme, I always appreciate when a band flips that expectation.

Pretty much every song has a hook and I’m not talking about a chorus, though most of them have to do with similar acute catchiness. Starting with “Slumber”, a spacy, guitar-laden groove that goes hard on heavy progression. Think Mastodon’s Blood Mountain/Crack the Skye era, but more straightforward. “Phil Collins Was Right” is named as such as it loosely lyrically refers to the English artist’s hyper hit, “In The Air Tonight”, but it also engages with some airy atmosphere tucked underneath the instrumentation. It’s a slower track, but Radiant Knife use it to smartly pace the album out before a rigorous midsection.

Dead center of Pressure is “Sunsets From Space” which is probably my favorite track on the whole album. The riffing is so damn catchy here and it all has really nice movement to it. It’s an instrumental track that packs a ton of personality and memorability into it - one of the best vocal-less tracks I’ve heard this year, though no shade to Sheppert’s voice, he’s a good singer.

The final third of Pressure is a metallic treat with “His Capa Was Detated”, a reference to both The Office and the way people “lose” their “heads” when exposed to the propaganda of mainstream media. Both Travasos and Sheppert put the work in with shifting, captivating drumwork and vigorous vocals respectively. Finally, “Demon Legs” caps Pressure off with a frantically constructed climax, the anxious guitars and yelped vocals nagging at you while you listen. The eight-minute track bites off a lot, but some awesome progression makes it go down smooth with some midway de-escalation and ambience to end with a sweet caress rather than a slap. I got some Elder vibes from it and honestly I’ll take those however I can get them.

Eagle-earred fans will find “Ghost Samurai” and “Give Yourself Away” familiar. They’re both taken from a split project done with Woorms a couple years ago. On Pressure they’ve been totally mixed and mastered to a fine sheen - a far cry from the demo-like quality you get on the split, and the improvement makes their inclusion here fine enough, though they don’t add anything profound to the tracklist. Omission would have made this album a tight half-hour and some change, and might have motivated me to notch the score up by one. Also, honestly, I could have used some more open soundscapes like those found on “Sunsets From Space” and “Demon Legs”.

Bottom line: Relatively minor gripes aside, Radiant Knife produced some lovely, mostly succinct prog metal that doesn’t waste much of your time. Pressure is fast, detailed, and textured, born out of a specific misery, but made fun enough to expel any dejected qualities that may turn some people off. Play it loud and forget about all the bullshit for a while. 
 


8 comments

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anonymous 7/25/2023 4:41:28 PM

Zulu shits on this.

anonymous 7/26/2023 1:03:00 AM

Call me when theyre as good as ZULU

anonymous 364 days ago

Reminds me of acid bath

anonymous 364 days ago

More like Steven Shepherd

anonymous 364 days ago

I bet these guys make good gumbo and jumbo laya

anonymous 364 days ago

Now I want crayfish

anonymous 364 days ago

"Best band in Louisiana" - Phil Anselmo

anonymous 363 days ago

The drumming in that second video is pretty tasty