Pushing far, far beyond Cartesian arguments towards the yet to be fully appreciated sense of Searle‘s biological naturalism proves impossible due to the tradition of “western” spirituality disallowing any of its own evolution for thousands of years. In terms of eliminating the notion of dualism, this infernal ‘ghost in the machine’ syndrome is itself magnificent primitive artform; A romanticized separation of ‘soul’ and body without regard for the ‘Self’ ad infinitum. Desire, belief, and pain are yet contained as physical impulse within the body and subjective truths within mind, a collective status of the organ (brain) itself that’d prove difficult to express as one holistic experience without some manner of grease to slick communication along. I would, perhaps predictably, suggest (preferably live) music as the appropriate medium for capturing physical life’s energy expressed upon ‘reality’ as we tangibly experience it while engaging the spiritual mind’s aethyr-divining search for meaning within “immaterial” thought. The sunlit mud-walloped majesty of Lafayette, Louisiana-based progressive sludge metal duo Radiant Knife continues to be a fine source of trembling ‘existence via self-propelled action’ as they course deeper the moonlit realm of endlessly existential reasoning on their upcoming pair of -inseparable- EP releases, ‘The Body‘ and ‘The Ghost‘. Today we extrapolate the former, ‘The Body’.

‘The Body’ is inescapably profound as kinetic spirituality in motion, an electrically-charged mathematical high-point of the brain’s evolution in noise/sludge rock songcraft in contrast with (if I may spoil a bit of the lofty, lovely surprise of) ‘The Ghost’ (which arrives early October) wherein the second half of this duo is an ethereal font of cathedralesque, shimmering and spaced-out balladry nearly double it’s length. Essentially the first half of an experience that’ll inevitably be conjoined on some manner of double LP form, Radiant Knife have taken stock of their major attributes with song type/mood as the major criteria and in turn have chosen to split those moods into two releases where ‘The Body’ is their noise rocking, math metallic, sludge rock side that’d gotten me so frickin’ jazzed over their ‘Science Fiction‘ full-length back in 2018. I won’t get into any real detail for ‘The Ghost’ for the sake of focusing on the power of this record but, both parts are essential. On a practical note, I figure the two EPs could have been combined into one effective ~hour-long record but there is some magic in the intended presentation of following ‘The Body’ with ‘The Ghost’ as they are entirely different experiences.

In this realm “like attracts like” both in the sense that the duo of drummer Greg Travasos and Stephen Sheppert are kin under the flag of experimental ‘extreme’ rock, cherry-picking enlightened ideological fusion with a bit of taste; You’ll find their love of obscure 90’s noise rock, peak 70’s progressive rock, and a healthy dose of sludge’s extreme experimentalists serving to inform the path forward. In the past I would have said the collaboration is very vaguely a spiritual successor to that of Sheppert‘s Radeon Kong but perhaps only for the sake of the same mind attached to a different body, and this mind has evolved far beyond the expectations set by ‘Science Fiction’. Yet, it’ll be ‘Science Fiction’ as the closest necessary reference for the melange of style and taut rhythmic interplay explored on ‘The Body’ as you’re only going to get vague reference to math rock, Unsane-tinged noise rock, and the sleekest most ethereally charged modern sludge metal sounds in describing what makes this first EP special.

It goes without saying at this point that Sheppert and Travasos are insanely tight as a duo and the sync of their chunking noise n’ rollercoaster sludgecraft kinda skips the garage grind of it all this time around achieving an impressive professional layer of polish that allows them to experiment in all manner of directions along the way. The shortest song here, the ever-climbing burst of “GTFO” jumps to mind first for its spastic noise rock hurl and rhythmic modulation as they bend into echoing snarls and toward growling chants as the piece grinds into its finale. “The Beast” is practically attached to “GTFO”, a high-impact jam of riff flexing hits and impeccable meter that allows some adept use of eerie synth to creep in an suggest mood without becoming too heavy-handed with adornment and flourish before a few quick Quicksand-esque vocal lines slick their way through toward the finish. But this is the darker end of an album that crashes into the living room window with “PMA”, a forceful yet ethereal sludge rock song lead by twanging math rock guitar spikes and bend n’ chug rhythms willing to change direction at any moment; It is a warm reception but not without its own brand of intricate, intelligent mayhem unleashed. “Time” expands the linguistic range of the guitar work in what I’d called a “noise rock ‘Remission’” upon first listen, hitting the plunge of early 2000’s prog-sludge renaissance while cutting some of the extreme metallic performative fat from the edges.

Sure at ~23 minutes I couldn’t avoid a track-by-track look at the thing but ‘The Body’ doesn’t feel as short as it is. Isolated and appreciated on repeated it resembles a rather succinct album that leads with a spark unto descent, darkening as it trades nimble and ornate details for heavier rhythmic impact. “From Dust” is a natural conclusion that shows the highest evolution of this side of Radiant Knife‘s oeuvre from all angles while also leading squarely back into the opening swing of “PMA”. For such densely written music so much space is created for the listener to vibe within that the full listen never begs for relief and I’d found myself often wanting to spin it twice just to keep the thread going. They could’ve made a 45 minute record full of these more aggro-tech sludge rock pieces and thrilled me but as soon as I dove into ‘The Ghost’ I understood why highlighting the two realities was important as part of the dualism of presentation. The cover art from traditional tattoo artist Terry Grow is probably the sharpest render for a Radiant Knife release to date and becomes even more striking when set next to the artwork for ‘The Ghost’. Having already experienced the complete package I have a bit of an advantage in recommendation of ‘The Body’, not only in the sense that I can suggest both pieces work beautifully together and also knowing that a lot of folks will be more attracted to ‘The Body’ because it is a dense, technical sludge rock attack compared to its floaty other half. Enchanting, mood-building stuff that comes with a high recommendation.

High recommendation.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:The Body
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Progressive Sludge Metal,
Math/Noise Rock

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