"The pieces forge themselves from a lifetime of listening and influences, all the choices are well made as this second release takes things a step forward, feeling more cohesive and mature as a result... This is a superb listen that scratches places that few other releases even think of going to. It’s intelligent, considered but retains a rawness and energy, the results being both refreshing and cleansing. Stunning."
"Four years after their debut, Brooklyn-based octet The Knells... return with another intriguing, mesmeric album. Aside from the vibrant guitar and muscular drumming, this band’s unique signature sound emanates from the beautifully written three-part harmony vocals... Like silver and golden threads woven deep into the fabric of the music, they assuage the often acerbic scrape of their instrumental backing with layers of silky emollient. Alongside a tension and exhilaration that’s both beguiling and challenging, an unsettling quality prowls. In an age of identikit prog rock it’s good to have a band with such a distinctive voice."
"No band sounds quite like The Knells. Spearheaded by guitarist-and-composer Andrew McKenna Lee, the Brooklyn-based outfit backs a trio of classical female singers with a heavy, two guitar-fueled ensemble. Whether your label preference is progressive rock or art rock, the unit's sophomore collection, Knells II, is as strong as its 2013 debut, and the band's sound, though a bit heavier, remains pretty much intact..."
"...But it’s the choirs which steals the show; moving from evocative harmonies to clever counter-points, it injects the entire track with a grandeur that’s hard to resist. Everything turns almost funereal, in the sense of the unspeakably large, the overbearing presence of something ephemeral... What seems to us to be epic and over the top is the starting point for The Knells, here and elsewhere."
"[The Knells'] lyrics ponder cosmic conditions and cycles — time, space, dissolution, regeneration — and they are sung by three women, often in cascading counterpoint that can invoke Renaissance polyphony or Minimalism. The songs aren't verse-chorus-verse; they sweep ahead, through passages of tolling solo electric guitar, of elegiac vocal melodies and harmonies, of note-bending quasi-Indian strings and guitar, of progressive-rock processionals. The classical training and female harmonies can make the Knells similar to Dirty Projectors, but this band looks toward Europe and tone poems rather than Africa and pop. Instead of hooks there are sustained dramatic arcs, meticulous and serpentine."
Best Albums of 2013, #6: "A song cycle of quasi-classical, quasi-psychedelic head music by a group led by Andrew McKenna Lee, a rising new-music guitarist and composer."
"What happens when you mix up a high-octane rock rhythm section with a string quartet and medieval-ish vocal polyphony? The answer is The Knells, a Brooklyn band that won't get much airplay with a new CD that refuses to fit into any station's format. I'm not sure how to label their music, but they call themselves a "post rock, neo-psychedelic chamber prog band." Their debut album is a must for those seeking untamed new musical hybrids."
INTERVIEWS AND FEATURES
Feature: Prog Magazine, Issue No. 83, December 2017
Interview: Prog Italia, Issue No. 16, January 2018 (English translation at end)
Interview: Tokafi, February 2014
Interview: Progressive Rock Central, January 2014
Essay: "The Knells — Progressive and Beyond" by John Hagelbarger, February 2014
Knells Press Kit 2016 (includes hi-res photos, bios, etc.)