Knoll Unlocks the Power of Negative Extremity on Latest Opus ‘As Spoken’

Knoll Unlocks the Power of Negative Extremity on Latest Opus ‘As Spoken’

- By Jon Garcia

On their third LP, the Tennessee grinders take their horror approach to the next level. Vocalist Jamie Eubanks sits down with Knotfest for an in-depth conversation on ‘As Spoken.’

At its core, extreme music is intended to scare, shock, sicken and confuse. It’s a vehicle to explore the dark and uncomfortable for those brave enough to take the ride. The barrier of entry is high, requiring almost a form of masochism the deeper into the abyss you delve.


Knoll exists at the furthest reaches of that abyss.


Self-described funeral grind from Tennessee, Knoll are deathly serious about their craft – which is essentially liquifying brains into goo. Their music is painful, ambitious and eviscerating; something sinister that should intrigue fans of Portal, Full of Hell, Wake or Imperial Triumphant.


Knoll isn’t just meant to challenge you, it’s meant to be feared.


“I feel that this kind of music is the ultimate vehicle for things that are purely negative,” vocalist and lyricist Jamie Eubanks says. “Wielding this kind of power – bending foul electricity to your will… it's a thrill like nothing else.”




On a rainy Nashville day, Eubanks sits in a quiet vegan restaurant with a vanilla oat milk latte. The greyscale weather is particularly apt, not unlike the dreary, haunting cover of Knoll’s third full-length record, As Spoken.


His cheery attitude and youthful exuberance belies the grievous and oppressing nature of the music he creates. He’s giddy at the thought of the record and everything that’s going to accompany it: tours, analog films he’s created for each track and a performance at Roadburn 2024 to name a few.


“The artistic effort of the band is never really complete,” he says. “You're always sort of chasing an ideal in service of a vision.”



Eubanks, bassist Lukas Quartermaine and guitarist Ryan Cook started Knoll when they were teenagers in Memphis. At the time, Eubanks pulled double duty on vocals and drums. Now relocated to the greater Nashville-area, they’re rounded out by drummer Jack Anderson and guitarist Cameron Giarraputo.


Despite the relative youth of its members, Knoll produces sonic frequencies beyond their years. With LPs in 2021 and 2022 – Interstice and Metempiric – they’ve quickly gained attention from the underground as an exciting new buzzsaw, while also cultivating a reputation as a must-see live band.


But it hasn’t been until recently that this thing they call Knoll blossomed into a multi-tendrilled monster that threatens more than just headphones.


“The goal has always been of utmost negativity and extremely dark music,” Eubanks says of the band’s mission. “But how best to possess the means to create something that we found suitable

to that goal is the internal line of questioning as artists.”


As Spoken is a step even further into the avant-garde for the band, while also morphing and twisting their original vision into a manifestation they’ve always strived for.


“This is the first album that I’ve reflected on a year after recording it…” Eubanks pauses for a moment before beaming with pride. “I think it's perfect. It not only completely represents what we wanted to accomplish [when we recorded it], but what I want to accomplish now.”



Draping themselves in antiquity, As Spoken presents as a timeless offering into the extreme canon. The record lurches and spews from cavalcades of tremolo picked chromatic guitar riffs to harsh ambient noise possessed by Eubank’s multi-tone timbre. Vocally, he’s more deranged than he’s ever been and the obsessive nature of his drive has found him looking outside the music to expand the band’s vision.


The compositions are accompanied by “old world, grain soaked horror film” videos that give each of the 11 offerings on the album new life beyond the auditory.


“I had an epiphany of aesthetics and ethos,” he says about approaching As Spoken. “To expand this canvas and make it a multi-dimensional world that you can visit and become lost in. I feel like the record has so much to speak on that it'd be a waste to not expand its being other mediums to service that goal that's been there since the start.”




Knoll as a beast is tough to wrap your mind around because it isn’t really tangible, but it’s always stalking the furthest reaches of your consciousness. It’s pain music, born from a desire to be a conduit for expressions of negativity.


“You're not creating something,” Eubanks says of the band's musical approach. “But rather channeling a force, and it's important to be an apt conduit for that sort of thing rather than force it from where it does not exist. We're not painters on an empty canvas; it's more like sculpting. These things preclude you discovering them, you unveiling them. Our duty is to chisel away in endless scrutiny.


“We choose with our filter to only leave the things that we feel are the most warped and vile. To wholly commit to the macabre is the most powerful thing that we can do. All other outcomes are worthless.”


There is so much packed into every Knoll track, both musically and lyrically, that it could be easy to mistake the noise as nonsense. But there’s so much to discover, whether it’s trying to decipher the verbose lyrics or make sense of the grinding guitars. Eubanks is emphatic that Knoll doesn’t deal in unrealities. They aren’t writing about aliens or Lovecraftian mythos.



“Knoll’s lyrical constituents have been largely veiled and somewhat metaphorical at times,” he says, “but they deal in closely kept belief and things that are very much real. The same respect

owed to the music itself is put within the lyrics, as they create one another in tandem to deliver the end product.”


Eubanks sees himself and the rest of the members merely as mediums for existing vibrations that already exist in space. The foul and demented dissonance he spews into the microphone aren’t just sounds he produces, but frequencies augmented by his contortions and technique.

“You’re warping [air] into something much more wicked,” he says. “That idea lends itself to As

Spoken’s meaning: of the dilapidation of language and all things communicated through such. Language, as all forms of communication, is subject to degradation at the behest of which hands may imbue it with sickness.

“Knoll resides at the very end of that clock. It’s both the figure behind the peephole and the door itself. A mourning ritual of all left to settle and rot.”




The complete devotion to their craft is why Knoll’s live show has cultivated a reputation as something you have no choice but to pay attention to, and why their upcoming appearance at Roadburn 2024 in The Netherlands holds special weight.


“The writing sessions, the rehearsals, the thought sessions for this sort of material are equally as ritualistic and involved,” Eubanks says. “Not much changes when we take it to the live scenario. If you’re unfortunate enough to see Knoll in a room alone, if you see Knoll in some weird manor living room with 10 people, if you see it in a stage with 500 people it shall be – and it must be –  the same delivery, the same experience.”


It’s a ruthless assault on the listener, as captivating as it is horrifying. Guitars swarm your ears like a horde of hyperactive locusts, cascading against frenetic and twisting drum rhythms. All the while Eubanks retches, contorts and chokes himself to produce inhuman snarls that hurt to listen to.


The band had never toured prior to the release of their debut. Eubanks said recreating that material on the road gave it a whole new life. They learned what worked and what didn’t and focused on commanding the audience’s attention.


“We returned with a confidence in attacking the listener, whereas before I felt like we were putting ourselves on display to be optionally perceived,” Eubanks says. “But now I feel as if our live show is inescapable.”



They’ve played all sorts of shows at all the kinds of venues you’d expect from a grindcore band earning their stripes. They’re used to audiences that don’t know their songs or have never even heard of Knoll before. Eubanks says there’s a certain freedom in that.


“We can kind of play whatever feels best in the setting,” he says. “Whatever we think is going to shock the audience the most, though that’s not that’s always the goal, to shock them. It’s a horror approach, towards unlookable but inescapable terror.”


What happens on stage isn't supposed to be some sort of spectacle, but rather an intimate and uncomfortable portrayal of catharsis. Like the audience is peering at Eubanks through his living room window.


“I feel that I'm at home [on stage],” he says. “When we perform it's a solemn act between all of us in service of something that is irrelevant to the environment of a show. We're not really focused on that, per se. It feels like there's something that we're looking to, as if there’s an energy and a power there that transcends us and is impervious to any sort of audience reaction that may dampen it.


“It doesn't matter where they end up mentally,” he said. “All I care about is that they feel that same unease that I feel.”




The blending of the records and stage show, as well as better understanding the purpose of the band helped shape As Spoken. The prolific writing pace they keep themselves also guides them with where to go next.


“It comes so naturally from being in revile of the last thing,” Eubanks says of starting a record. “It's a detestation, and it's created out of a hatred for creation. You must you must better yourself to serve this thing, this ideal that is Knoll,


Eubanks said As Spoken was the first album he’s gone into with clear visions of the song in his head, something that has now become more important to ever.


“Take ‘Wept Fountain’, for example. There's these descending repetitions of chords in the intro and throughout the piece that, to me, symbolize the cascades of a fountain, a manmade spring,” he explains. “Liquid trickles down and it gradually grows larger and settles into a basin that I would liken to the ending of the song. A foul stoop of various liquids fermenting and waiting to be drunk.”





Likewise, late album highlight “Utterance” is an example of Eubanks at his most unhinged. Newly medicated and weeks with little sleep, Eubanks asphyxiated himself in an unlit room, gurgling as if he’s on his way to the grave. With only a waterphone and a custom instrumental drafting table, he improvised the track on the spot.


“The majority of atmospheric portions of Knoll records I at least go in with some sort of idea,” he says. “But ‘Utterance’ I just left it to myself and an impromptu feeling of whatever may come and that’s where I arrived. My solo!,” he says with a cheeky, ear-to-ear grin. “All that existed before

my time in that room was the poem within, a short piece on the enchantment of secrets. I am to

be the whispers in the attic here, if you will.”




Where Knoll goes from here is anyone’s guess. More unhinged, more expansive, more artistic… any and all of those avenues are open to them. But with As Spoken, Eubanks really hopes people will dig into the material and be intrigued by everything it has to offer.


“I hope that people look into it with the same infinite questioning that we find ourselves in when creating it. Listen to the records forwards, listen to it backwards and find something new. Something that disturbs you as profoundly as it has disturbed us.”


With the confidence of an artist that deeply believes in their art, he continues.


“I hope that you fear what’s next. We will surpass it, as we have each record in succession.


The record ends in terror, and then a sudden silence. So is the way of all things.”


As Spoken is available everywhere now. Buy directly from the band HERE.

Knoll begin their EU/UK tour next month with Bell Witch and Frail Body. The run will include an appearance at Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands. See the list of dates below. 

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