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Fierce grindcore-meets-death metal horde KNOLL discusses new badass album “Interstice”

Photo by Jake Murnane
Ripping out of the Memphis underground with their debut album is KNOLL. A group of college-age musicians have crafted their take on grindcore-meets-death metal – adding their own twists on the genre, and sparing nothing in their razor sharp delivery. Today, the dark and scary sounding pack joins us for a brief interview on their bleak craft, local music community and full track by track feature!

Jammed into the twelve tracks on Interstice is several lifetimes-worth of existential contemplation, philosophical missives, and potent imagery. Describing the album as “a commentary on the most grotesque facets of man in a linear struggle through time” gives some insight into both the mindset of its creators and the direction that they’re taking listeners in.

𝐵𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑔𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑡𝑚𝑜𝑠𝑝ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒, 𝐼𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑏𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑠 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ 𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡 𝑎 𝑏𝑎𝑐𝑘𝑑𝑟𝑜𝑝 𝑜𝑓 𝑛𝑜𝑖𝑠𝑒, 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑝𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑓𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑎𝑙.

Recorded with Andy Nelson at Bricktop Recordings, in Chicago, IL, during summer 2020, the album was then mixed by Kurt Ballou and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. Artwork by Ethan McCarthy (AKA Hell Simulation, Primitive Man, Many Blessings) is the perfectly sour cherry atop this nihilistic audio offering.

KNOLL have already notched up performances with The Black Dahlia Murder, Negative Approach, Sanguisugabogg, Today Is The Day and more heavy hitters; their youthful confidence and unhindered circumstances have them champing at the bit to return to the live arena. Until conditions allow for their live aural assault to recommence, KNOLL in a recorded form is just the blistering experience needed to tide us over.

Interstice was released on February 26.

KNOLL is: James Eubanks – Vocals/Power Electronics, Evan Kubick – Guitars, Lukas Quartermaine – Bass, Ryan Cook – Guitars, Jack Anderson – Drums, Drew Miller – Guitars.

Answers by Jamie Eubanks.

Hey Jamie! Please give us a couple of thoughts on this amazing artwork.

The artwork features many representations of concepts on the record. The infinistair, for the wandering and fruitless pursuit of furthering oneself. The heavy door for the inescapable nature of toil. Bodies and pained figures for the general agony of existence. Ethan McCarthy a.k.a. HELL SIMULATION has a talent for creating grotesque imagery, and working with him was inspiring in itself. He is fantastic with collage work as well, which helped us create a large picture of smaller facets.

KNOLL art

What were your inspirations for such a crushing sonic blow?

We all want something that is challenging and intense live, for both the audience and performer. While we were in the studio, we were listening to a lot of Imperial Triumphant and Gulch. I think the intensity of those bands helped fuel us, as well as the immense pressure to create something that was both honest and pummeling.

What is your local music scene like/where do you fit in there?

To be honest, there’s not a ton of grind or death metal in our very local scene. Half of us are in Nashville now as we relocated after recording, but we haven’t been able to play any shows to figure that out. There’s a shit ton of hardcore metal and rap, and we love the bands that do play styles similar to us.

Can you share som noteworthy artists worth our time?

Absolutely. Autolith is the Memphis band to check out if you’re into us, along with BREAKING / ENTERING and Grave Lurker.

Reserving Dirtnaps and Thief’s Hand are the key hardcore players and Brandon was instrumental in getting us on our feet way back and is just the best dude.

Big Lukah and Hannya Chaos are also worthy listens and have played shows with the metal bands around Memphis.

“INTERSTICE” TRACK-BY-TRACK commentary:

KNOLL by TokyoAnt

KNOLL by TokyoAnt

CALLUS OF THE MAW: If we were to do a title track, it would be this one. This track revolves around the physical embodiments of sound and the energy that they carry. The opening sounds are of Interstice careening into existence, salvaged from valleys of noise.

GRACIAN AXIOM: This track is one of many on the record that fuses noise with arranged sound – there’s a piece in the middle of the track that is a push and pull between these two elements. This is a direct musical continuation of Callus of the Maw, but has a lyrical departure towards man’s tendency to forget atrocity.

LAMBENT URN:

Lambent Urn is about the quest for unattainable knowledge and it’s perils. These are some of the first odd time signatures that you hear on the record and it is the most dense vocally – there is hardly room to breathe. There’s a verse that utilizes low register sweeping picking, juxtaposed by the repeating phrases of primitive descending chords.

IMPETUS IN MIRE:

This is one of the oldest songs that we have – bits and pieces restitched from older demos into a writhing track that feels like being struck by lightning when you perform it. Strings of minor dissonance paint a portrait of the upheaval of a work driven society and the downfall of many.

GRASP:

The primary melody here is a bastardization of a section from the prior cut. All tracks from this record are entwined and derived from each other musically and conceptually, if you know where to look. A love song of sorts, this one is a semi-grandiose track depicting the very real fragility of mental bond and earthly connection.

EARTH’S IRON LUNG:

A larger accompaniment to Grasp, centered around the ravaging of Earth and it’s lifeforms and the acrid enlightenment of those that elude it. This is one of the oldest, most extreme, and simply brutal tracks on the record – nearly pure dissonance and pummeling instrumentation. It’s been fan favorite since our first shows.

DOOR TO MOIL:

A simple noise wall around themes of failure that rests in the grander scheme of pushes and pulls. All of the performances here were improvised during recording and Andy Nelson, our engineer, plays the soured chords in the background. Various bashes of scrap metal and industrial components litter these surroundings.

INHERENT OF LIFE:

I think the main riff in this track is the absolute first thing that our guitarist, Evan, wrote for the band. It has since been mangled into a mid-tempo sledgehammer. The lyrics are some of the most plain I’ve written, about the inherently flawed platforms of minds and the prevailing notions of anger and malcontentment.

SCATTERED PRISM:

We initially didn’t think to make this the first single off of the record, but I think it ended up throwing a massive curveball at what we were expected to do. Lots of tapping and intricate playing here – a mathematical sequence of mental agony and obsessive conjurings of the mind. It’s one of the most personal songs on the record.

LOOM OF WILLS:

I had the vision here of each tangible soul being bound by metaphorical strings, of which are controlled by whichever deity you may accept. The dictum here is to sever oneself from this tether and embrace a larger function. Musically, we aimed to occupy the absolute lowest registers here and sludge until rendered unintelligible.

MYR:

We have always wanted to create a horrifying ambient piece and I think this accomplishes that goal. We brought an extremely detuned viola into the studio to create the leading sound of an oak warping under the force of time. The drums and vocals were improvised together and appear out of nowhere.

FJORD PEAKS:

This song is about the erosion of all energies, physical and metaphysical, throughout time. It partially ties the record in a multitude of ways and is the author of the figure A0. This was one of the easiest pieces to come to fruition and fell into place naturally. Fragments of future batterings lay here.

Fierce grindcore-meets-death metal horde KNOLL discusses new badass album “Interstice”
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