The Cutting Edge of Silver Knife’s “Unyielding/Unseeing” (Album Stream + Interview)
The convergence of scenes is always a unique experience. In the case of Silver Knife, four pillars of underground European music and art -- N. from Laster/Nusquama, H. from Trancelike Void/Hypothermia, D. from Yhdarl (and many more), and P. from Paramnesia -- discovered a center upon which the four of them can expound. On their debut album, Unyielding/Unseeing, the band creates a type of atmospheric black metal which contains immediacy. Much like the title, this music is inelastic -- it only moves forward. No meandering, no interludes; Silver Knife is mission-oriented, and the album's fruition is end-game.
Though the music is atmospheric, which can in most cases be a dilution in sound, Silver Knife remains sharp and hostile. The vocals are piercing, the guitars are cutting, the bass rumbling, the drums bombastic -- it's all there, and in a way which is atypical for "atmospheric black metal." This international four-piece's take on black metal is invigorating, for not only is the performance solid and the songwriting on a higher tier, but the music itself is memorable. There are many melodies which are proper "earworms," and riffs which make the listener want more of it. Given its pedigree, it isn't surprising that Silver Knife's album is good, but to be this good involves a greater sense of purpose and intent.
Listen to an exclusive stream of Silver Knife's Unyielding/Unseeing below, followed by a brief interview with the band.
Silver Knife comes from a variety of backgrounds, locations, and influences. What brought about the impetus of this project?
N.: When I discovered Trancelike Void in 2008 -- recommended to me by Laster's S. -- I didn't have a clue about the person behind the music. Hans and I met years later, as we found our bands sharing stages across Europe. After a slightly escalated evening in Athens, the idea of working together came about. As we kept meeting each other sporadically, the plans didn't materialize until after a show in Antwerp, where Hans drew up the agenda.
H.: As a musician, you want to expand your horizons, and one way to do that is to collaborate with different musicians. I always seem to have a 'list' in the back of my head with people I'd like to work with. It's pretty ironic that we kept meeting each other in locations all over Europe while we live less than 200 km apart. That night in Athens in November 2017 definitely created a bond, after which it was only a matter of time before something definite would happen. As Nicky mentioned: in July 2019, right after a Nusquama show in Antwerp, a real plan was made. Little over a month later we were in the studio with Déhà.
When Déhà and I visited Pierre in December, he told us how much he liked the album, and that he missed making music. Coincidentally, the style of the music seemed to perfectly fit his drumming profile as can be heard in Paramnesia (and Lure, of which the first demo should be out soon, keep an eye out for that!). It immediately became clear that he was the right person to join the band. At the moment, he's recording drums for an upcoming EP, and he'll also be handling the drums on our next album.
Given your variety of backgrounds, what was it like finding a direction for the band?
H.: We talked about musical direction and concept beforehand, but it was only when we sat together in my living room, both with a guitar in our hands, that Silver Knife really began to take shape. It was there that I could hear the music in my head. I'm lucky to have been working together with Déhà for such a long time; some days later I could perfectly explain to him what Nicky and I had envisioned.
N.: Despite the spontaneity, it was clear that the music needed to have a distinct character; not dependent on our former works, but also thematically different from current tendencies in black metal. In a way, we knew what we didn't want, which is always helpful to get to what it is you are looking for.
Much like the band's namesake, Unyielding/Unseeing is sharp and aggressive, but it is also obscure and thoughtful. How do you maintain this balance?
N.: Thank you! The boring but honest answer is that all of this material comes from experience and intuition, combined with what happened in the moment of recording. That being said, I do feel that this balance could be much more nuanced on upcoming releases, as Unyielding/Unseeing has become quite the bulldozer.
How does the songwriting process work with band members in different countries? Was there a primary songwriter for Unyielding/Unseeing?
H.: The division is more or less 50/50, both musically and lyrically. The atmosphere and collaboration during the recordings were of immense importance here. Even the tracks that were initiated by either Nicky or me separately, received constant feedback. The recording process in the studio was pretty intense because of this; there were ongoing common decisions to be made, with -- whenever needed -- Déhà as a casting vote. Eventually, we naturally progressed in a direction where the tracks weren't so much Nicky's or mine, but clearly showed the face of Silver Knife.
N.: I feel that having a primary songwriter would get in the way of the collaborative vision that Silver Knife is founded upon. Having different and divergent approaches from each other really brings a lot of energy to the table, which in turn helps to enrich the creative process.
Follow Silver Knife on Bandcamp.