Knights of the Abyss


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There are some extreme metal discs that, for all their brutality, still value nuance, melody, and songcraft. Others, however, favor sensory assault for the sake of sensory assault, which is exactly what one gets on Knights of the Abyss' debut album, Juggernaut. With a name like Knights of the Abyss, one might expect an epic type of album -- perhaps symphonic black metal or Viking metal, perhaps some type of grandiose melodic death metal that liberally incorporates elements of power metal and progressive rock. Instead, what transpires on this 2007 release is best described as a ferocious, skull-smashing blend of technical metalcore (metalcore meets math rock) and death metal with occasional hints of black metal. Tempo changes are frequent, and Knights of the Abyss not only go out of their way to be as abrasive as possible -- they also make a point of being extremely chaotic. All of the vocals are extreme vocals, but this Arizona-based band does not stick to one extreme vocal style exclusively. Some of the vocals favor death metal's "cookie monster" growl, while others are somewhere between a black metal rasp and metalcore screaming -- and the Knights' ability to constantly go back and forth between the different extreme vocal styles adds to the vicious chaos. Those looking for nuance or musicality will not find it here; the goal of this 35-minute disc is to beat, pummel, bruise, and batter listeners as much of this possible -- and make no mistake: a lot of battering occurs on Juggernaut. But here's the thing: plenty of other bands have offered this type of technical metalcore/death metal assault and done it much better. Yes, Knights of the Abyss have succeeded in providing a nasty sledgehammer of a CD, but none of the material is very memorable -- and there is nothing that sets Juggernaut apart from countless other noise-for-the-sake-of-noise discs that came out in 2007.

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