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A Realization of Utmost Intensity: YEAR OF THE KNIFE - Internal Incarceration Review

Positioning themselves among the hardcore elite with a debut outing to strive for.


Life as we know it is ridden with uncertainty, an uncertainty that leaves lasting impacts on the state of mind. Though improvements in the medical arena have made support systems a tad more accessible, addressing said impacts remains taboo in nature, leaving one to channel that frustration into other avenues, music being one of them. Of those who have done so is Delaware quintet YEAR OF THE KNIFE, centralizing their shared maelstrom of emotions into a hard-hitting debut full-length, Internal Incarceration.

Arriving on August 7th via Pure Noise Records, Internal Incarceration is a statement in hardcore achieved through mutual camaraderie between the members of YEAR OF THE KNIFE. Consisting of vocalist Tyler Mullen, twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Kisielewski on guitar and drums, and husband and wife Brandon and Madison Watkins on guitar and bass, YEAR OF THE KNIFE do right by their own means and cement themselves a force in the flooded hardcore genre. Their debut comes five years since first forming, speaking to the patience and honesty that charged the 13-track Internal Incarceration.

This Time wastes no time and kicks things off with a bang, battering away with an alternating pairing of drum and riff grooves. The pace changes on multiple occasions, introducing a gallop of double bass and a slow yet-pummeling breakdown. A brief feedback transition welcomes Virtual Narcotic into the fold, spiraling the pace into a new, guitar-driven extreme. Internal Incarceration sports these dynamic song structures, keeping on one their toes with little to no time to rest.

Two tracks in and it's evident that Kurt Ballou's (CONVERGE, NAILS) production work did justice to the band's otherwise deadly offerings. Every instrument is crisp and audible while remaining bombastic with tracks like Final Tears and Eviction to speak for it. Mullen dives deep within himself for each guttural and sets forth a truly visceral vocal performance on each track, which in turn can be considered album standouts.

Stay Away and Get It Out inch further into the pain and showcase each member at their best. The Aaron Kisielewski and Brandon Watkins guitar duo plays off of each other with ease, each adding depth to Mullen's lyricism with razor sharp riffs while Madison maintains a high pulse with trembling bass lines. The drum-laden Kisielewski again delivers a stupendous alternating tempo that sets him apart as one of hardcore's strongest drummers, a feat not easily achieved with the level of quality in the contemporary state of the genre. Not one member outshines the other, rather they work in unison to deliver an uncomfortable yet needed message of perseverance through the negativity of addiction and uncontrollable circumstances.

Visualizing the themes at hand is the mighty Sam Octigan, who's works have fronted records from the likes of MISERY SIGNALS, STICK TO YOUR GUNS, and more. From the downed posture of the individual living within the mind to the barbed wire and half skull, there's much to take away from Octigan's illustration for it serves as one with the music it represents. It resembles that of the album title, but there's a purpose to the dripping red hues and attentive details that were placed for you to interpret as the listener. Needless to say, Internal Incarceration delivers as much visually as it does musically.

In a world where heavy music arrives by the dozens every week, you'll find few records as profound as Internal Incarceration. It stands as a composition that is needed more than it is wanted for many will relate to the heart that Mullen pours into each passing lyric. With breakdowns as crushing as the ones living throughout it, it could be easy to lose yourself to the madness of Internal Incarceration. However, those with the patience to dissect the story told will find that it hits harder than what presents itself on the surface level. YEAR OF THE KNIFE have simply set the bar high on this debut, making our anticipation for the eventual follow-up that much greater.


Internal Incarceration arrives on August 7th via Pure Noise Records. Get yours HERE.

Cover art by Sam Octigan


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