Impressions of Iowa: Isaac Hale of Knocked Loose highlights the intensity that made Iowa an instant classic

Impressions of Iowa: Isaac Hale of Knocked Loose highlights the intensity that made Iowa an instant classic

- By Ramon Gonzales

The Louisville guitarist shares how Slipknot's extreme display of emotion set the template for heavy music to come.

Among the most profound statements of any albums legacy, is the generations of subsequent musicians that inevitably grow from it's creative nourishment. By that metric, Slipknot's Iowa continues to function as a sort of metal doctrine - an artistic statement that continues permeate throughout the current climate of modern heavy music.

That much is evident when you take into account the trajectory of a band like Louisville's hardcore crossover, Knocked Loose. Quickly ascending to become champions of their respective DIY scene, the outfit would scrap to assert themselves as thriving example of aggressive music's new hybrid - a compelling connection of hardcore's vigor with foundation rooted in metal's volatility.

The band's 2019 A Different Shade of Blue, offered a testament to their transformation of culture, with a collection of tracks that struck a chord with broad audience. Incorporating their pedigree of hardcore and metal, Knocked Loose's resulting brand, bridged subcategories in way that positioned them at the head of their class, a dual threat thrived during shows with no barricade yet were destined arena stages.

For guitarist Isaac Hale, his creative foundation of various subcategories of heavy music afforded a unique education in musical aggression. Despite the fact that Iowa was released when Hale was all of four years old, it's an album that the guitarist has quoted as being a pillar of his creative upbringing. Citing the kind of catharsis that made the album such a hallmark of the culture, Hale's connection to Iowa was especially personal from the jump. "First the second I heard it, I loved it. It immediately resonated. It felt like it was written for someone like me."

Intrigued by the relentlessness and release packaged in those 14 tracks, Hale grew enamored with the dynamic duality of an album that could be so pummeling yet equality precise simultaneously. The album appealed to the guitarist in him as much as it did the fan in him in a way that continues to stick. "It was the one that brought me in by atmosphere alone. It’s an extreme display of emotion as much as proficiency. Not lots of records walk that line so well. It was a huge eye opener for me."

Gravitating towards art that fed off of emotion, it's no wonder Knocked Loose would inevitably follow suit. Taking inspirational cues from artists that channeled catharsis in craft, Hale and the guys in Knocked Loose recognized that the release that comes aggressive music is the constant that reaches everyone. It's a lesson that was established for Hale with the Iowa album and why he feels the album still feels effective some twenty years later. "It was just a right place right time thing. The imagery. The intensity. The time period. It’s what people wanted. It’s what people still want. For anyone with pent up aggression or sorrow it’s always going to resonate."

While Hale hails the entirety of the album for it's energy and esthetic, he reveals how one track in particular sets the template for how he continues to refine his own creative approach. "The entire side A I can listen to at anytime and instantly be in the zone," says Hale. He continues by explaining how one of Slipknot's most enduring singles however, is what still inspires him to this day. "'Left Behind' was probably my standout forever because it managed to make a melodic chorus scary."

The evidence of Slipknot's influence is not something lost on Hale. It's a sticking point that the guitarist does well in emphasizing - reiterating how preceding generations of heavy ultimately shape those that follow. Slipknot captured lightning in a bottle with Iowa and for those that were compelled by the album's impact - the challenge is to leave a lasting mark of their own. While it remains to be seen how far Knocked Loose manage to reach, they recognize who the game changers are known to take their cues from the best, "Slipknot as a whole, especially the first two LP’s, changed the face of heavy music. And I think they have more influence now than ever."

That's game recognize game.
Back to blog
1 of 3