Haunted House EP
Label: EarStorm/Warner Music Group
Released on: May 6th, 2013
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.
Knife Party has, for the better part of the last few years, functioned as somewhat of an anomaly in the beast we now know as "EDM" (Electronic Dance Music). Both Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen were members of arguably the best drum 'n' bass group on the planet — Pendulum. Once the Aussie powerhouse band parted ways, Swire and McGrillen started releasing larger-than-life tracks under the Knife Party moniker. Pendulum fans likely rejoice at the buzz of any tunes from Knife Party, as the aesthetic they apply to their music is similar to that of their former band: hugely pulverizing synths, bass drops that would make any of their peers say "why didn't I think of that?," and massive beats that have obviously been toiled over as much as, if not more than, the bass and synths of each respective track. Their new EP, Haunted House, is no exception to any part of their formula. They might not release much at any one time, but the music is so big and has such longevity that four tracks is all you'll need until they unleash their next massive record.
The Haunted House EP opens with a track that's been floating around in a few different incarnations for a hot minute. "Power Glove" is a commanding number that, unlike more than a few EDM cuts, never bores for even one second. Propelled by its one-two punch of a beat, the meat of "Power Glove" is found in its siren-like synth, similar to the one we heard in "Internet Friends" and "Rage Valley," which seems to be a sound they should have a patent on, as it's very much Knife Party's signature sound at this point. When anyone describes the duo as sounding "big," this is likely what they're referring to. Like those two previously mentioned tracks, this slab of bassy goodness is undoubtedly the flagship track on the EP. If you're looking for a go-to demonstration of what Knife Party sounds like, look no further.
“LRAD” is easily the best, most forward thinking, and most unexpected direction for Knife Party on the Haunted House outing. These Aussies often get lumped into the dubstep genre, if only for their unique manner of engineering bass, but Knife Party is more electro house and really, more "house" than anything. Sure, they use bass to their advantage more often than those who aren't considered dubstep, but the melodies, the drum fills, and the glossy production are what set these guys apart. “LRAD” is Knife Party’s mission statement that they simply cannot be defined by any one genre. The five minutes that encompass this track are some of the most blood pressure-building and colossal moments of this EP and, dare I say, Knife Party’s catalog as a whole. Never before has an artist of Knife Party's stature made such a
clever use of space and minimalism. Sure, the track takes two minutes to build up to where it’s going, but once it takes off and your mind is blown, the wait will make perfect sense.
The last fresh track on the EP is “EDM Death Machine” (the other being a VIP of “Internet Friends,” which slightly outdoes the original but doesn’t cover much new territory that begs mentioning). If anyone has wondered how the Knife Party fellows feel about the current state of electronic music — especially knowing that these guys come from an old school drum ‘n' bass (or dare I say, jungle) mindset — this is all the response you’ll need. Setting aside the opening mantras of “In the future, no one will drop the bass / No one will do the Harlem Shake / No one will know 'Bitches Love Cake',” the track itself is a multi-faceted fiddling with several sub-genres of electronic music. The drop is probably the hardest electro we’ve ever heard from Knife Party, sounding almost literally like a death machine of sound. The synths sear the senses and burn away any preconceived notion that this duo is a one trick pony. It’s the bridge, though, that really lets this song out to play. Consisting of a truly old school-sounding jungle breakdown while acid techno synths abound throughout, it’s here that McGrillen and Swire really bare their souls.
Pendulum may be no more, but their mission of bringing the heyday that authentic electronic music had in the 90s to the new school runs wildly rampant in these new songs. The musical progression that can be heard from Knife Party’s beginning up until this new Haunted House EP is simply staggering. While the US seems to collectively have their ears glued to the ground for what artists like Skrillex and Deadmau5 will do next, it’s crystal clear that Knife Party are the frontrunners for super-stardom — and credibly so. If anyone reading this is going to Lollapalooza this summer, make it a point to see them close out Perry’s Stage on Sunday night — the competition that night may be stiff, but if these enormous songs are any indication of their live show, we’ll all be in for a treat.