As an unwritten law, everyone in the rock and metal world was in a high school band at some point. The vast majority of these college bands disappear off the face of the earth (and with good reason), but some persistently stick around. One such hanger-on are Italian hybrid-rockers Knowing2fly, whose début album “Here On My Feet” recalls almost every trope of the “college rock” stereotype, most of which do the band no favours.
To start on a positive note, the instrumental work on this album has its moments of inspiration. The riffs on ‘Burn This Rock’ and ‘Point Of No Return’ point to a fun-loving band who grew up with Queens Of The Stone Age, Pearl Jam and Faith No More, albeit with a punk rock crunch that adds flavour. Throw in some nü-metal and the result is confusing, to say the least. Their intention may well have been to “explore the whole spectrum of human emotions: anger, meditation, love, passion and everything in between”, but all of these influences and more result in the band developing Chameleon Syndrome; adapting each emotion and style to their situation, but not stretching it to anything new.
The best moments on record are, unsurprisingly, the ones where they experiment. “Sun Reader” is easily the standout track, somehow managing to blend Pink Floyd‘s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and Helmet in groove mode, a feat in itself if a little unfocused in execution. “UnWise” also succeeds in similar fashion, with some sauntering guitar lines giving way to a more upbeat tempo for a strong finish. “Unhitch” throws another curveball, delving into the realm of funk-pop-rock with what would be great success if it were instrumental.
The negatives outweigh the positives here by a long shot. The main flaw comprises Alessandro Crippa‘s rather amateur vocal style. Raw and shouty singing is nothing new in Italian rock, but his vocals take the biscotti for becoming genuinely a nuisance over the otherwise mostly enjoyable music. His lyrics are similarly dire, concerning mostly egotistical topics about rocking and feeling sorry for himself, including the Itanglese line: “I feel myself like a flower, extirped (sic) from the road” delivered in an accent that would make Fabio Lione and Berlusconi wince.
Even the music starts to falter quickly, as several songs stop and start in the middle for no discernible reason, and awkward riff transitions crop up across the 13 tracks. There’s even a two-part song, “Drag Me To Hell”, although bonus points will be offered for anyone who can connect the two very different songs. And then there’s the sensitive ballad “My Demons”, featuring the lyric mentioned above, which comes off as kitsch and flat.
The bottom line is ‘Here On My Feet’ is a sub-par record with one or two, perhaps accidental, flairs of genius. In the time between their EP five years ago and this album, Knowing2fly have done little to improve their sound and, in fact, have written songs on here that are worse than the EP-origin ones. If hybridized and fun-loving rock is your bag, look to Mamamicarburo. This does not come recommended.