The third installment of Knotfest’s digital discovery showcase with the Pulse of the Maggots Festival is set to broadcast Friday March 11th via KNOTFEST.com.
Featuring 18-buzzworthy artists spanning the spectrum of heavy music, the festival brings together an ensemble of players that are all making a lasting impact in their respective lanes. From death metal to hardcore, black metal to post rock Pulse of the Maggots is as dynamic as it is diverse – offering a snapshot of the health of heavy culture.
To get fans familiar with the participating artists for the 3×22 edition of Pulse of the Maggots, the Meet the Maggots feature offers a concise introduction and highlights just why these artists are primed for the spotlight.
For Virginian crossover collective Enforced, the approach to their brand of audible aggression is simple - fast and ferocious.
The band's 2021 full length studio debut in Kill Grid served as another emphatic entry among a thriving catalog of modern thrash evolution. A skillful mesh of the technicality and proficiency bestowed from their predecessors, combined with an ambitious awareness of their own stylistic signature, Enforced quickly joined the ranks of contemporaries like Warbringer, Havok, and Dead Heat as competent purveyors of speed and shred.
What has become even more apparent is just how well the sound is resonating with fans even outside of their niche, but across the spectrum of heavy music. The band's most recent touring run saw them as one of five participants on the Decibel Magazine Tour that featured death metal legends Obituary and party thrash veterans Municipal Waste - supported by a trifecta of brutalizers in themselves, Spiritworld and desert death specialists Gatecreeper.
While Enforced flexes the kind of performative pedigree that taps into a classic sound, there is something undeniably progressive in their delivery. Less about trying to reinvent the wheel, the band understands the balance between asserting their own stamp and tipping their hat to those that have set the groundwork before them. Yet make no mistake - Enforced is not about rehashing nostalgia. Their brand is that of brute force, compositions that are intended to be played and consumed at maximum volume to match the maximum intensity.
The band's vocalist Knox Colby spoke candidly about where Enforced is on their path to dominance and detailed how being authentic is likely what resonates among such a broad swath of converts.
Your recent run on the Decibel Magazine Tour with Obituary, Municipal Waste, Gatecreeper and Spiritworld really connected with fans. Many of the shows sold out. Do you feel like heavy music fans are becoming less purist? Is that gatekeeping that existed in metal going away as bands of different styles are coming together to tour?
Colby - I think people, in general, are just happy to go out and see live music and shows again. Every crowd showed a huge amount of enthusiasm and support for every band, regardless of style or sub genre of metal. All these band can be labeled and packaged however one sees fit, but at the end of the day, the crowd wanted to explode and get years of pent up aggression out (believe me, I wanted to as well).
As a crossover thrash band, how important is the tradition of the sound and does that ever get in the way of finding your own style, your own voice?
Colby - Not terribly important, but there are obvious guidelines - keep it fast, keep it hard, keep it loud. The genre hasn’t limited us as a band or in the lyrics I write. It’s a genre we all love so we stick to what we like.
Few bands can go from touring with Municipal Waste to sharing the stage with Blood Incantation. What about Enforced do you feel resonates with such a diverse crowd of heavy music fans?
Colby - A friend of mine brought a similar question to me like an hour ago! I truly think it just boils down to the question “Do you like aggressive music?” If so, then I think you’ll like Enforced, or Blood Incantation, or Obituary, or thousands of other hardcore, metal, or punk bands. All any of the bands ask if you is to go to a show and experience it for yourself.
With Kill Grid dropping during an pandemic, what has it been like finally playing those songs live and has that inspired the band to begin writing the follow-up?
Colby - We’ve never stopped writing really. We took a nice breather after Kill Grid was released, just to exhale for a little bit, then we got back to working on the next LP. We’re never not writing or mouthing riffs and ideas so we just keep trying to find what sticks and what works and craft songs around that. The live experience has proved to me that I want to do this for the rest of my life, so I want to put my all into it. Hopefully that resonates life and on record.
For fans getting introduced to Enforced through Pulse of the Maggots, what can they expect from your performance on March 11th?
Colby - AGGRESSION
Working well outside the confines of conventional genre lines, Kid Bookie's foundation is equal parts grace and guts. Dead set on creating without the limitation of any particular category, the London-based craftsman competently covers the stylistic spectrum ranging from rap to rock without forcing a circle into a square.
After cutting his teeth for many years in various projects, cultivating his brand and refining his voice amid various avenues artistically, Bookie's years-in-the-making debut Cheaper Than Therapy served as a personal triumph and a powerful testimony of the musician's progressive vision and artistic relentlessness.
Spanning rock, punk, rap and the more nuanced subcategories that reside in between each, Bookie's fluid weave of wordplay, vocal melody and diverse song composition resulted in an album that kept fans guessing and skeptics stumped. Bookie's range even managed to sway Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor, with the prospect cementing his hype with not one but two high-profile tracks in Bookie's "Stuck In My Ways" and Taylor's emphatic "CMFT Must Be Stopped" - the ultimate affirmation.
Thriving as the odd man out, Bookie's defiance when it comes to staying in one lane has served him well. Capitalizing on the intrigue that comes with that individuality, Bookie's ability to get down to brass tacks and showcase his versatility in real time and on record is what has conditioned the new school practitioner to become part of the next generation's defender of the sound - an artist that exceeds expectation, sometimes even his own.
Bookie offered some insight on his creative path, the skepticism that continues to fuel him and how the culture of being a Maggot is at the core of his artistic DNA.
Cheaper Than Therapy offers a broad stylistic range. What do you think is the common denominator that allows your music to make genre irrelevant?
Bookie - I guess it's not fitting narratives set out for you, subconsciously or consciously. I think music has a profound effect on who you are, the more close minded you are, it reflects even in musical choices, don't be a victim of your own bullshit or even feel you have to follow what someone else does to jump on trends/algorithms, its fucking insane.
For those that aren’t familiar, did your connection with Corey Taylor really start from a simple tweet?Bookie - (Laughs) Yeo, if there was ever great 'universal' timing, I think this is the muse for it. I used to work at this vegan place, shout out to them but I fucking hated it. I was on the train home, listening to "Wait and Bleed" and said 'we need to work with each other before we both leave this earth'. Didn't think anything of it. Before you know it, it's blown up and me and big dawg are fucking up the game with some hybrid shit - "Stuck In My Ways" "CMFT Must Be Stopped". Three years later, still trying to push the sound I love with the elements that I guess shape my style. That's my fucking big bro man. I tell him I love him all the time. Salute big dawg. Thanks for giving me another reason to keep going.
What are some of the advantages of the platform of streaming performances? What excites you about participating in a digital festival like Pulse of the Maggots?
Bookie - Advantages are, you get to have your fans/supporters be part of something huge from the comfort of their home. Of course, live music is unbeaten but depending on circumstance, etc., you may not always get to see your favourite artists in your city or even country. This gives the chance to share a moment together, especially if you're putting your fucking all into making sure they feel that shit from miles away. I'm excited to be part of this because the 'Knot is in my blood man... I'm a fucking maggot. It's almost full circle, it's like this is the trajectory I should always follow, and never lose my sense of self, ever.
What have been some of the obstacles you have faced in being an outside the box kind of artist? What kind of push back have you dealt with in bridging such varying styles of music?
Bookie - The stigma of just being "rapper Kid Bookie" when sometimes, I ain't even fucking rapping! But it's almost like box ticking. I'm very vocal about that shit. It creates a precedent you're always trying to destroy. When I put out Cheaper Than Therapy we topped many rock charts, with rock music, some rapping, a shit load of singing, harmonies, scales and it can just get labeled as 'Rapper Kid Bookie, sings' (laughs). I fucking love it though, it's the fight that gives me strength. If I am not fighting for something, then complacency has destroyed me.
For those getting introduced to you through Pulse of the Maggots, what should they expect from your live presentation?
Bookie - Emotion, energy, my spin on my own songs in live formats, and if you haven't experienced it yet, it's all we bring. Hope you enjoy! And shout out Pulse of The Maggots, its an honour to share this part of the timeline with you guys and try to change this fucking game - SALUTE!
For several years, longtime friends and creative colleagues Brian Sullivan and Billy Rymer have managed to keep their passion project alive without ever delving into it's full potential.
Specifically for Rymer, thoughtcrimes functioned as a secondary outlet, a creative conduit that allowed him to explore different musical terrain when he rotated home in between touring stints as the then drummer for The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Prior to picking up the sticks for DEP, Rymer's primary focus was the guitar and at the behest of eventual collaborator Brian Sullivan, thoughtcrimes was inevitably fleshed out properly when the duo each took up the axe and got to work.
The result was "Misery's A Muse" a track that would become one of two bonus tracks on the band's re-released 2021 EP in the Pure Noise introduction of Tap NIght. Indicative of the methodical mayhem to come, the initial 2019 four-track presentation (which would be revisited and bolstered with two new tracks in two years later) resonated with an enthusiastic base that fully embraced the outfit's pummeling pace and relentless hardcore reverberation.
While the songs and the execution blare with modernity and stylistic relevance, these are compositions that have been around in some form for as many years as the band has - marinating in a way that allowed them to become even more potent over time. Speaking to the songwriting ability of the collective, Tap Night was certainly potent from it's inception, but has evolved in its effectiveness, becoming undeniable at present.
Ahead of the band's scheduled showcase on the Pulse of the Maggots broadcast, Billy Rymer shares some insight on the longevity of the band and the shelf life of songs that were penned with equal parts integrity and intensity.
Did the re-release of Tap Night last year resonate with fans like you had hoped initially in 2019? Did the shelf life of those songs make you feel like you were on the right track in terms of finding your sound?
Rymer - We were really excited to announce our signing to Pure Noise with the re-release. It was a great opportunity to finally press a body of work on vinyl and breathe new life into songs that we feel embody the tone of what to expect from us in the future. The response has been awesome from people who supported us in 2019, as well as a new audience just hearing of us now.
The deluxe edition of the EP included “Wedlock Waltz” and "Misery’s A Muse” - were those songs part of the initial record sessions or were those recorded after Tap Night was initially released? Not that the initial four songs were subtle, but the two news songs seemed especially volatile.
Rymer - The thing with us is that we have been a secret since maybe as early as 2014. We wrote a lot of material before finally committing to the original four songs on the initial release of Tap Night. Wedlock and Misery were actually the first two songs we ever wrote and recorded as a band.
Thoughtcrimes has a tasteful meld of subgenera and style accents - do you feel like heavy music is becoming more inclusive? Like genre or subgenere is becoming less and less relevant and the gatekeeping of heavy music is going away?
Rymer - Art is and always will be limitless. I’m seeing both heavy music welcomed in other genres and vice verse. There will always be purists who are set in what they like and that’s fine. Everyone in the band has an expansive range in musical tastes and interests. For us, it’s important to explore outside our boundaries and incorporate out of the box ideas in our creative process.
For fans just getting introduced to thoughtcrimes through Pulse of the Maggots, what can fans expect on March 11th?
Rymer - It’s nothing too elaborate other than us just getting into a room and playing our material on the EP and maybe a little something extra. It’s an honest representation on how we sound live.
For Memphis grindcore menace KNOLL, operating with a sense of creative certainty has resulted in the kind of debut that few veteran artists could achieve, let alone a collective of musicians that aren't even of legal drinking age.
The band's corrosive amalgam of searing death grind on the 2021 album Interstice, offered an expert-level showing of hostility, an A-bomb of aggression that asserted the band's firm grasp of the intensity and the intricacy of the sound.
Reiterating Knoll's complete creative assuredness, the young outfit even knew what personnel would help them achieve their full potential. Enlisting Converge's Kurt Ballou and Weekend Nachos' Andy Nelson to bolster the effectiveness of their introductory offering, the collaboration was indicative of a band that was sure-footed in their stylistic stance and far from winging it.
Flexing a creative maturity and an artistic wherewithal well beyond their years, Interstice serves as proof that Knoll are no doubt a force to be reckoned with - the band's dominant show will only double down on that.
Knoll frontman James Eubanks details the band's plan of attack at Pulse of the Maggots.
Tennessee has a rich musical legacy but doesn’t seem too tied in with heavy music. Does being a death/grind band in a region not known for heavy music give you an advantage or make it tough to generate momentum?
Eubanks - A little bit of both. The scenes are relatively small but the people in them are very supportive of the few extreme bands putting out records and playing shows. We definitely had to tour outside of Tennessee to put our name out there, but it does certainly make it easier to stand out.
The band obviously full invested in your debut, Interstice. Aside from the artwork and the vinyl pressing, the band tapped personnel like Kurt Ballou and Andy Nelson to help. You guys must have had some real confidence in these first songs to go so big for the first album.
Eubanks - Yeah! Knoll has always been a lifer situation. We spend too much time crafting the material to sift it through people we aren’t thrilled to work with. Most of us were just graduating high school at the time of recording and pressing Interstice. It was a gigantic hurdle but, to us, creating and occupying music has always been about putting forth your best effort into every facet of the band, be that releasing a record or something as small as shipping out shirts or local booking.
The band has cited influences like Imperial Triumphant and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - you gotta admit, that doesn’t seem typical for a grind core band. How does that kind of forward-thinking and avant-garde approach help when it comes to writing songs?
Eubanks - I think that when we approach writing, it is less in a sense of creating riffs or parts of a certain caliber and leans more towards creating a cohesive piece of art. The songs have to sum to something greater, each part with purpose. We intake all sorts of music - there are hints of jazz and ambience stricken throughout the records, but the ultimate goal is to evoke an atmosphere and an idea. We are always trying to soak in something new and evolve as musicians to better serve the ideas.
The band has gained significant traction in a relatively short amount of time and operators on a very DIY level. What do you think is connecting with fans - especially in a genre where purists are always skeptical about new bands?
Eubanks - Thank you! It has been a wild ride. Knoll is very fortunate to have wonderful people behind it helping us but is no label, no oversight. Operating in this way and handling every level of the band gives us the opportunity to speak with everyone who would care to speak with us. Making friends on tour and connecting with people who have a mutual appreciation for this sort of thing is one of, if not the best part about it and we’re extremely grateful for those people and their kindness. Our first tour this past fall was funny and beautiful - it felt like everyone knew that we were doing it for the first time and we were being taken care of by a collective of guardians. I think just being open about what you do and being uncompromising with your passion is all that you need to do and all we have done. People will get your message eventually and purists will dig themselves into a hole.
For fans just getting introduced to KNOLL through Pulse of the Maggots, what should they expect on March 11th
Eubanks - We’re playing three older tracks as well as three off of a new album that will be announced in April. Those songs will crush you. We filmed it while nice and feral on tour in a place that we really love. You should listen loudly!