...

...

When Conan, Asomvel's bassist/vocalist, belts out "Hit you harder than a knuckle duster", he's telling no lies about his band or their new record. If the lyrics are autobiographical, I don't want to know if he's lying in that context. Knuckle Duster is hard music that sounds like it's played by hard men who do hard work and then relax with hard liquor and harder women.

It's worth mentioning that Conan used to be in a deathcore band called Tangaroa, not that you'd know it from his performance here. He sounds exactly like Asomvel's tragically deceased original bassist/vocalist, Jay-Jay Winter. Asomvel's last record came out on defunct UK label The Miskatonic Foundation. Miskatonic dove in deep waters before going dark, releasing albums by Ironsword, Warning, and Twisted Tower Dire. Listen to the swerving riff that opens "Dead Set on Living" or the one-two, fuck-you punch of "Sheep In Wolf's Clothing" and "Trash Talker"; the strangeness of that band and label pairing becomes obvious. Miskatonic's bands, or most of them anyway, were inaccessible because they played burly metal about nerdy subjects, which is really just the intersection of Vin Diesel and guaranteed obscurity.

Asomvel, though, are inaccessible in the same way that Motörhead are (to the extent that either band is): they sound like the aftermath of a bar fight, and might be singing about one, too. By my crude count, over half the songs on Knuckle Duster are threats or verbal lashings. "Waster" combines the two but delivers the hooks at half speed, while "Wrecking Ball" has got more swing than Mike Tyson circa 1988. The record sounds big and boisterous, so if it ain't too cold yet, roll down your car windows, crank these songs, and head to the liquor store. Or hell, don't be a pussy and just do that even if it's freezing. I guarantee you'll enjoy the trip, because like the song says, Knuckle Duster hits you harder than, well, you know the rest. Buy it here.

— Richard Street-Jammer

...