Splitknuckle: A Chat with the UK Band About Their Metallic Hardcore Gem of an Album

Photo: Declan Breckon

Though it was only released earlier this month, Splitknuckle's Breathing Through the Wound has already gotten a ton of plays at No Echo HQ. The album from the UK metallic hardcore quintet is a mean-sounding fucker of a record.

Imagine a Euro death metal band jamming on ignorant '90s-style NYHC and you'd be close to the aural spirit these Brits are cooking up. Produced by Ben Spence, Breathing Through the Wound pops from the speakers with razor-sharp clarity, insuring that every gnarly guitar riff gets its shine.

Earlier this month, I spoke with three of the Splitknuckle dudes about their history together, the new album, and what else we should be checking out from the current UKHC scene.

To help introduce the band to No Echo readers, how did Splitknuckle came together and whate were some of the influences you all shared during that early phase of the Splitknuckle?

Joey Drake (vocals): Me and [drummer] Matt [Bullis] became friends and went to college together, [guitarist] Liam [McCarthy] through our old bands playing together, [guitarist] Christy [O'Connor] through joining my first actual hardcore band, and [bassist] Larry [Statts] we met through mutual friends.

We started out in 2012 just having fun and fuckin around playing kinda Xibalba/Brutality Will Prevail-styled hardcore/beatdown and then through the influence of bands like Special Move, Raiden, BDF, 50 Caliber, Knuckledust, Ninebar, and Bun Dem Out (to name a few). We started playing a more regional UK sound, adding our own flavour across the board.

Since then, we’ve maintained that the absolute most important thing is that we have fun with each other, stay friends, and have fun doing this band. We’re blessed to say that we’ve done that for over 10 years, and whilst doing that have been given opportunities to visit incredible places and meet incredible people as a result.

How would you describe your sound today, especially on the Breaking Through the Wound material?

(Larry Statts, bass): A really cliché statement but this record truly is a big culmination of all of our influences.

We all obviously love the rawness of hardcore but we also enjoy bands like Mastodon and Gojira that take you on a journey when you listen to an album. We wanted to create that journey-like album experience but with an aggressive hardcore edge.

What did producer Ben Spence bring to the table and how would you describe your relationship in the studio together?

Larry: We recorded with Ben at Fuzzbrain Studios in London once before for a covers compilation via The Coming Strife Records. And we have to say, the vibe/expertise/methods that Ben used gel really well with us as a band and really enhanced our ability to put some more creative flair during recording—we had to go back there to record Breathing Through the Wound.

Ben keeps things quite loose during recording, which is the opposite of what most recording engineers/producers would do. But for us, it particularly works in our favour as we feel more comfortable to experiment in the studio.

(Christy O'Connor, guitar): Ben is a longtime friend (most of us have been recording with him since 2016) and helped to bring the best out of us once again. We worked on most of the music over a period of 12 days at the start of March 2023, from there it was a couple extra sessions to finish vocals and add the overdubs necessary to give each some its own vibe.

Ben Spence hanging at Buzzbrain Studios

The album was released here in the States by DAZE, a label that has been on fire in the last couple of years. How did you guys connect and what are your plans for coming over here? Surely, having an American label behind you can help facilitate opportunities here.

Christy: Everything came together pretty casually and organically as it often does in hardcore. We're all big fans of music DAZE has been putting out over the last few years, from heavy hardcore like Pain of Truth, Volcano, and Silenus, to the more tuneful stuff like Riot Stares and Stand Still.

[Label owner] Lumpy reached out over social media and we got talking about our upcoming plans for the LP. We wanted to make it a split release with the mighty Northern Unrest and everything came together perfectly. In the coming year we'll be looking to play a few shows in the States for sure!

Photo: Andy Baz

How is your local scene doing right now, and who are some other bands from your region that we should all be looking for right now?

Larry: UKHC is truly in a good place at the moment with every corner of the UK thriving with great scenes and great bands. It truly is an honour to be part of it. A particular newer band I am enjoying a lot has got to be Malignant Methods.

Christy: Since bands like Vorhees and Knuckledust kick started hardcore in the UK in the early '90s, Essex has had a strong presence and unique sound to bring to the scene. Even though some OG bands like Special Move, Point Down, and Deathskulls called it a day there's great bands like Raiden, CB6, Above All, My Cross to Bare, Power Failure and Epic of Gilgamesh all doing bits when they can.


Breathing Through the Wound is out now across all digital outlets and coming soon on vinyl via DAZE (US) and Northern Unrest (EU).


Tagged: splitknuckle