• Tiny Knives – Black Haze

    Tiny Knives – Black Haze
    Released by: Eolian Empire
    Released on: February 5thh, 2016.
    Purchase From Amazon

    Based out of Portland, Oregon Tiny Knives is a three piece made up of Jai Milx on guitar and vocals, Ursula Morton on bass and Jamey Anderson on drums. Their ‘vinyl debut’ for PDX’s Eolian Empire, Black Haze offers up eight tracks, all of which were recorded at Caravan Recordings and engineered by Andrew Grosse and Jose DeLara (who also mixed and mastered the recordings). The end result is an album very clearly rooted in punk rock but played with a fuzzy, raw sound, the kind that’ll get stuck in your craw in a big, big way. I don’t think this band existed when I lived in Portland, and that’s a shame because I bet I’d have gone to see them and I bet I’d have liked them live because this album from this band (that I’d never heard of until a few minutes ago when I got a promo copy for review purposes) is fucking awesome.

    The distorted tones of Dark History open things up. There’s a sort of Sabbathy collision going on here, guitar and bass tuned down while cymbals crash and swirl until well after the one minute mark where Milx’s vocals punctuate things with some serious ferocity. This sounds like Crass if Crass were more metal and less…. Crass. That’s a good thing, mind you, it’s just hard to describe in text. But it’s clear, even in this first track, that these ladies are not fucking around.

    Past Tense is a more traditional sounding track, the vocals sounding less guttural than the opener, at least to start. That changes as the track progresses and gets angrier, weirder and darker – but then it bounces back, shifting to and fro throughout from an old school punk sound to something that may or may not be a death or black metal influence. It’s weird, but I’m into it. That Crass influence is even more obvious Magic Xians, an angry two minute bit punctuated by some unexpectedly demonic sounding vocals in the later half. Crazy stuff. Primitive but at the same time really hooky with some serious riffing in the guitar department that contrasts with vocals best described as unhinged.

    Silk In The Water is, to start at least, a calm, cool and collected number. The vocals here seem less interested in punching you in the ears than they are in lulling you into a false sense of security. Once you’re there, kapow, you get punched in the brain as Milx wails like a banshee or a monster or something kind of scary and unpleasant but simultaneously beautiful and intriguing. It’s like if PJ Harvey and Integrity recorded together. You get that dark, kind of gothy weirdness mixed with vocals that are just all over the place while the band pretty much straight up attacks you.

    Cowschwitz starts out with some heavy duty FUZZ over which an angry spoken word diatribe reminds you how fucked up things are. Cue a quick little instrumental break and then the vocals go off in a big way, before the track switches back to angry spoken word mode. It’s terrifying and enchanting all at the same time. Lights In The Sky sees the band slow down a bit, with some serene vocals over a mellow guitar bit and, yes, some fuzzy bass anchoring things down. It’s calm, comparatively speaking, but that doesn’t last, it gets speedy and aggressive and, maybe there’s a sort of Buzzcocks influence here but maybe not. This track is on the longer side, almost five minutes, and in that span they bounce around a lot but the willingness to experiment is not only admirable, but it makes for some really gripping and intense music.

    The penultimate track is The Fuck-!-, and it’s just over two minutes long – and it’s somehow angrier and periodically pretty than anything else on the record. Again, it bounces back and forth a bit, you can’t really expect this band to play to expectations. Even when you expect the unexpected you get something you don’t expect. It’s pretty nuts. Angry, insane, sexy in a way that it shouldn’t be by ‘traditional standards’ but is regardless (and all the better for it), and even trippy. The album closes with Winter, which starts off with some pretty basic riffs before then getting kind of sludgy and a little stonery and then from there going back into some impressively crazed punk territory, kind of bringing the whole record full circle in a way.

    Check out this live set that looks like it was recorded on someone's phone!