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That good ol' Arizona sound - 79%

GuardAwakening, September 3rd, 2014

As the years pass by, the hatred for deathcore slowly wither away. Bands that were once despised by Suffocation fans to the very presence of the appearance of the band members' hair has now almost achieved "tr00 status" among the current league of Internet metal nerds everywhere. Hatred for deathcore almost seems like it's not even cool anymore, talking shit on it because you listen to 90s Aborted or Immolation doesn't even seem relevant anymore and almost makes you seem like you're a tool in contrast to how the deathcore hating bandwagon was the thing back in '08-'10. Disliking a genre is one thing, I have nothing against you for disliking deathcore in the same sense that I do not enjoy shoegaze or country music. But the hate for deathcore was so immense back in these days, that well... it was just a "thing". If you were there, you'd understand.

This was never the case for me, deathcore was always one of my favorite metal genres. Being a kid on MySpace around these times, I found numerous bands. One day, Knights of the Abyss sent me a friend request after noticing I enjoyed peer bands such as Salt the Wound, Suicide Silence, Job for a Cowboy and I Declare War (ect.), I then proceeded to listen to their music. Of course listening to their music over on their page and viewing the pictures on their MySpace profile coupled with comments from users calling the band "faggots" came as no surprise. The music was what I found captivating the most, this band was part of the league of deathcore bands to a growing scene rising in Arizona and was started none-other by Job for a Cowboy.

Just to conclude this story so I can get on with the review; Job for a Cowboy pretty much morphed deathcore into a big thing. They were from Glendale, Arizona. They made a killing off their MySpace profile of only a 6 song EP and even headed out on some great tours on the back of these songs before ditching the genre altogether in favor for death metal 2 years later. But it doesn't change the fact that they made a cult following for the style of music that they played on this EP. Knights of the Abyss is one of those bands that followed in their footsteps.

First of all, I just want to say I noticed something among these deathcore bands from Arizona. They all sound almost exactly the same, they have their own sound from other bands outside their home state. I didn't quite understand it at first. The vocals and drum production/guitar tone didn't sound like Suicide Silence, Carnifex or Whitechapel. Why does the vocals of Knights of the Abyss and the tone of the guitars and drums sound so inhumanly similar to Job for a Cowboy and The Irish Front but no other bands in the genre? I mean, I admit it, the growler on this album sounds so crazily similar to Jonny Davy or that kid that did the growls in The Irish Front, I even checked the band members to see if one of the two The Irish Front vocalists were indeed a part of Knights of the Abyss at the time of the album. They weren't. I was very surprised by this. This had me stumped for some moments, until my brain woke up for a moment and wandered off to checking the production credits for this album. I then realized all these bands; Job for a Cowboy, The Irish Front and even Knights of the Abyss themselves were produced by Cory Spotts. It became clear to me then because I begun to notice how every such instrument and vocal have almost the same exact sounding filters and reverb. Vocals especially have this case when someone does any sort of growl or scream and it has its own distinct filter, you can easily sound like the same person with the same sort of distortion or filter placed on the vocals.

Suffice to say, these bands all sound "very Arizona" for that reason alone; they were all produced by Arizona producer Cory Spotts. Do I like the production of Spotts? It's not bad; it's just... different. Put up to the comparison against other such producers such as Josh Travis and his wall-of-sound style that he pulled off on Suicide Silence's The Cleansing album, which I actually prefer a little more for a deathcore release. The guitars on all his albums always have the bands play their instruments in a cave it sounds like. Drums have a fair amount of reverb while the guitar retain this cold sound and very echo-y reverb vocals sit atop all these instruments. As a result, Juggernaut very much sounds like a less technical version of Universe by The Irish Front.

Anyway, about the playing style themselves, that's about as much as I can describe. If you've heard any other Arizona deathcore bands, Knights of the Abyss (especially on this album) is just the settling example of them all. They're a slightly more serious and less spazzy version of The Irish Front that borrows some of the blast beat style off Job for a Cowboy. Their gooyness is also prevalent in some of the songs as well. Such as "Dragon Pie" or "Gridlock" where their silly moments shine without going over the top about it.

One of the only complaints I could really dig-up is that the band's breakdowns almost sound too similar from song to song. By the album's seventh track ("Megabrain") it begins getting monotonous with the style they perpetuate over and over with these chug-chug moments. It's by all means not a perfect album, nor an original album but it's deathcore straight outta Arizona and following in the pathway of leadership that Job for a Cowboy did before them. By all means, not a bad album. But if you can't handle deathcore; plain and simple... stay away.

Nothing old...Nothing New - 77%

BL00DSH0T, February 4th, 2009

Knights of the Abyss deliver a sound that’s not really all that innovative but yet its not like its over used. They really didn’t hit us with anything new and original with the album "Juggernaut", like other bands such as: Job For A Cowboy, The Black Dahlia Murder and others.

KOTA seem to find a good spot to hold down for now. They seem to have shifted into a place between hardcore and death metal. Vocals on the other hand are not at all a new sound. Now without the vocalist Mike Manhiemer, long-time friend Dustin Hadlock took his place on this album. He gave a very nice sound on this album and made it seem like he’s always been there. He still has great sounding vocals but you can some what feel a weakness in the inhales.

The band also having the track "Decaying Waste" with guest-vocalist Zak Elysia, this track definitely stands out in a way but still has that KOTA sound to it but you can still find some hint of Elysia in there. Honestly, my point of view, it’s the best song on there.

Knights of the Abyss still hold a good spot in the genre but like all other bands with this genre, they haven’t really got much new material to deliver on an album. Drummer Andy Rysdam (ex-Job For A Cowboy) keeps up on this album with great blast beats and he plays out some good grooving parts in the slower areas. Guitars still keep that chug-chug riffing but still play good melodic parts and seem too not over use the use of the “chug-chug breakdown”. It’s a good album, not great, but still good. They have that Deathcore with a hardcore element in there. I definitely recommend this album.

Rising star? - 75%

ConquerTheBaphomet, November 27th, 2007

Once again another West Coast deathcore band invades U.S. metal airwaves. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Knights of The Abyss's offering Juggernaut is definitely nothing original as bands like Job For A Cowboy, All Shall Perish and others have already established themselves in the scene as forerunners of a new generation of metal bands.

As opposed to other bands in the new Myspace deathcore pandemic, KOTA is actually quite the gem in the field of rot. Tracks such as, "Gridlock", the re-recorded "Megabrain", and "Hell Bent" hold their own on the album. One of the biggest highlights of this band is the rhythm section consisting of ex-Job For A Cowboy drummer Andy Rysdam. Technicality and creativeness is never a quality found in today's ever growing pool of generic deathcore/metalcore bands but KOTA's drummer keeps my attention.

With the absence of ex-vocalist Mike Manhiemer, long-time friend Dustin Hadlock stepped up to the plate on this album. He delivered nicely enough to make himself sound like he's always been in the band.

The riffs are obviously nothing new, of course, but they don't completely suck either. Sometimes I feel like one riff is something I've heard before and maybe that comes from their list of influences.

Overall, if you want a band with plenty of breakdowns, trigger filled drumming and in your face vocals, then this is the band for you. I didn't score them any higher only because I've heard their style all too many times before but lucky for KOTA I don't think they completely suck either.

Unoriginal Deathcore - 48%

GuntherTheUndying, November 6th, 2007

Don’t I already have this CD? I mean it all sounds so familiar and rehashed that it must a cloned disc; either that or it’s a generic Job For A Cowboy tribute CD. Knights of the Abyss are one of the biggest bands in the deathcore scene, and I really expected a lot more from them than what the genre typically offers, but that didn’t happen. After listening to their highly-anticipated “Juggernaut,” Knights of the Abyss push forward with a handful of metallic heaviness, but fall back from their unoriginal performance with this mediocre effort; it’s just a normal deathcore CD when the days ends.

What’s a good way to describe Knights of the Abyss’ debut? Here’s an idea: put in any deathcore CD. “Juggernaut” is based upon breakdowns, harsh vocals, chugging riffs, and your usual slamming drums; quite generic, as you could probably guess. The whole breakdown-riff-breakdown texture gets pretty old after just a block of songs, because it’s the entire core of this record! The mindless repetition is one of the only obstacles blocking “Juggernaut” from actual enjoyment; it would so much better if they learned to mix it up a bit.

On the flip side, Knights of the Abyss tend to reach out of their unoriginal front on occasion, and actually find a healthy balance between hardcore and death metal. When the breakdowns decrease, you can typically expect a decent section of Cannibal Corpse-like riffing with a tasty side of blastbeats. Also, the growling vocals are sometimes welcomed by tender high-pitched wails when the screams aren’t in place, which really adds more to this CD. Please note these fragments on “Juggernaut” reside as a minority more than anything; death metal is relevant, but the hardcore influence is clearly more dominant.

Knights of the Abyss are painfully generic in many ways, and it really sucks they have to sound like every namable deathcore band; they could be so much more if they broke apart from their sect. But still, "Juggernaut" is something that's been done a thousand times before, and the band's overall sound is way too predictable for anyone to stomach. Check it out if deathcore gives you a chubby; avoid it like a scat film otherwise.

It's been done over nine thousand times before. - 70%

Eleventeen, September 24th, 2007

Deathcore seems to be a label applied to a lot of decent bands that have a knack for sounding exactly the same. A few of the “genre” have established their own sound within the genericism of the style: Job For A Cowboy, Through The Eyes Of The Dead, Glass Casket, Whitechapel, The Red Chord, All Shall Perish, Ion Dissonance, In Death We Rise, From A Second Story Window, etc.

Knights of the Abyss, unfortunately brings nothing new to the table. Really bands in the genre rarely do. They seem to have cloned every aspect of Job for a Cowboy’s Doom EP, minus any sense of emotion. Think As Blood Runs Black in comparison to The Black Dahlia Murder. The music sounds identical to every mediocre song written by the band they worship. Their vocalist seems to try very hard to imitate JFAC vocalist Johnny Davy, minus pig squealing.

Aside from my definite distaste for the album, it’s not all that horrid. It’s your fairly standard slam death influenced melodic death metal with a rare tough guy hardcore part here and there. The vocals are fairly good, though some of the inhaled parts are very weak. Rysam does some clean blasting and keeps things nice and mid-tempo, his feet are pretty even and quick, and he shows a fair sense of groove in the slow parts. The guitarwork is good, it’s just fairly disinteresting, think, “it’s been done before,” incarnate.

They show potential if they were slightly less generic. The drummer and vocalist are great, with a few flaws.

On the bright side, the album’s some deathcore with actual hardcore elements.