Album Reviews

Ohio Knife

Scalp or Be Scalped

Artist:     Ohio Knife

Album:     Scalp or Be Scalped

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     10/21/2016

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Scalp or Be Scalped does not suffer from low testosterone. Whether chain-smoking their way through a series of heavy, slow-burning dirges in “Be The Dark,” “Tonight We Ride” and “WWP” – that last one eerily reminiscent of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” – or bashing out ragged, carnivorous rock ‘n’ roll glory with a Midwestern upbringing, Cincinnati’s own Ohio Knife seems manly enough to fight a bear.

Often matted in fuzz, their thick, riff-heavy guitars are almost as burly as the gruff, hairy vocals of the man who plays them, lead singer Jason Snell. Like a brawny wrestler, bassist Scotty Wood knows all kinds of melodic, low-end strangleholds and drummer Joe Suer doggedly locks into good, solid grooves, all while crashing and stomping around in a controlled rage. And Ohio Knife appears more than eager to throw down, especially on the piano-pounding “Day and Night” and the rambunctious, trashy punk fireball “Special Plan.” Even meaner and more satisfying is “Creation Museum,” with its garage-rock grit, Southern boogie and cocksure hooks getting awfully grabby.

Kings Of Leon were never this feral or ballsy, even in the early days before they went Hollywood. Think of Ohio Knife as Drivin’ N Cryin’s illegitimate sons or members of a creepy, woodsy cult that only worships Motörhead and classic rock. Clever enough to paint in smoggy organ here and there, Ohio Knife can sound ominous and gloomy when the mood strikes. Take them out on the road, though, and they’ll open up the throttle and let their freak flag fly.

-Peter Lindblad

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