Time flies eh? It seems like yesterday I was reviewing Radiant Knife’s 2018 album Science Fiction, which drove my lurch from progressive metal to post-metal & sludge worship for the past five years. I was also stunned to see I’d missed the two albums that followed the success of Science Fiction and have been duly gobbling up all my missed content. But Radiant Knife isn’t simply riding the oh-so-common wave of nostalgia that permeates the arts for many at the moment; they are genuinely brilliant.
Trippy psychedelic post-metal and sludge is the most fitting descriptor for them, which was almost a given seeing that the duo are from Louisiana, play metal, and cite King Crimson as a key influence. Despite it just being a pair of them too, the resonance they unleash in their tracks is something special, with a soundstage that invokes them playing in a celestial stadium to an audience of degenerate metalheads from the stars.
Opening track “Slumber” fits this description to a tee, with a spacey synth leading straight into fast-paced, furious grooves that blast you off into space. The riffs from Stephen Sheppert have a great tone to them, toeing the line between rawness and production perfectly. You get the raw power that sometimes gets diluted from over-production, which helps fill the soundscapes of the band. Vocals are largely few and far between, but they help to accentuate the music perfectly with the obscure shouts bringing you back from the tantric riffing.
“Phil Collins Was Right” is a brilliant change from the first two tracks, with a more ethereal take on their sound, akin to what I’ve been loving from Sugar Horse. A huge sound for just two guys, helped by the great mixing from Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, but looking at his previous catalogue, (Sunn O))), Obituary) the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
The next song which really captured me is “Sunsets From Space”, which really showcases the duo’s songwriting capabilities. This rollercoaster of a track takes you through a number of exceptional motions, leading to a furore of them all combined. You can only begin to imagine the circle pits that this could unleash, but it also really highlights the quality of Greg Travasos’ drumming too. There is so much variety and flavour in his patterns, you often want to rewind sections just to relive the genius.
Tracks tend to be under the five-minute mark, so don’t expect any slow contrasted sections in the middle of the tracks. Pressure is pure nitrous oxide, an injection of metal that is unrelenting and magnificent. “His Capa Was Defeated” is a great example of this. A blend of thrashy vocals and punchy riffs harkens back to the 80s, whilst also maintaining a progressive and updated sludgy feel to the instruments that convey what I’d describe as ‘real heaviness’. This track, in particular, is exceptional to pair with video games. It’s the soundtrack for my Trepang² sessions of late, providing endless groove for me.
Pressure is the perfect length and has the right amount of variety in tracks to make you desire a complete playthrough every time. The mix is really bloody good too in every track on Pressure. What more would I love to see from them? To tour the UK for a start! But genuinely, from a musical standpoint, I guess all I can really see Radiant Knife improving on is adding further complexity to their soundscape. Yet when the two of them are creating such a huge sound, and so fucking well, how can you wish for anything more? Top quality metal from Louisiana, yet again.