Religious Knives It’s After Dark

[Troubleman Unlimited; 2008]

Styles: psychedelic, rock, folk
Others: Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Spectre Folk, Magik Markers, Acid Mothers Temple

Religious Knives = Maya Miller and Mike Bernstein of Double Leopards and Nate Nelson of Mouthus. I have a special place in my heart for both groups, and was enamored with the first Religious Knives record, Remains, a compilation of CD-R, seven-inch, and vinyl-only material. The tracks were an amalgamation of the more droning aspects of both groups, fleshed out with some ghostly vocals and '70s Italian horror movie-style keyboard supplements. Given the nature of the noise scene’s penchant for collaboration, it was hard to tell if Religious Knives were an actual band or just an indulgent side project. As it turns out, they are an actual band, and the material presented on It’s After Dark presents a fuller version of what the group previously offered.

It seems hard to believe on first listen that the outcome of a more intensive work ethic would produce something far less singular-sounding. Religious Knives lose none of their effectiveness, even if It’s After Dark bears a striking resemblance in overall feel to Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice albums like Buck Dharma and Xiao. This is partially due to the aimless psych solos found throughout the record, ones that mimic the style of Acid Mothers Temple somewhat, and also because of the male/female alternation on the vocals from song to song.

While it’s certain to have its share of devotees, this specific style of music has been nearly run into the ground over the course of the last few years. That doesn’t prevent It’s After Dark from being a reasonably good album. What it does do, in fact, is help separate the truly spectacular from the merely decent. These particular individuals have such a distinct pedigree I was actually expecting more. As it is, this is the sound of Religious Knives easing comfortably into a relatively more straightforward approach to songwriting.

Most Read