The War Inside My Head: An Interview with A Constant Knowledge of death

Boston's A Constant Knowledge of Death are a sleeper cell of blackened, sludgy, post-everything mayhem. The brilliant series of EPs they released in 2019 made my whole year, and, actually, made it quite high in my weirdo 2019 list, which may just have been the most stacked in recent memory. All of which is to say that they rule quite hard, and are about to unleash a whole full-length (the first since 2016) by the name of Dissecting a One-Winged Bird mere days from now. You can listen to their first, and exquisite, single here, but, even better, you can preorder the shit out of their Bandcamp and await the coming of blackened, emotional, desperate glory. And, while doing so, you can also check out this new TWIMH interview with A Constant Knowledge of Death frontman, drummer, producer and all-around menace, James Goldmann.

As always, check out my various interview projects and other cool shit. And if you'd like to keep abreast of the latest, most pressing developments follow us wherever I may roam (TwitterFacebookInstagramSpotify and now also a tape-per-day series on TIK TOK!), and listen to my, I guess, active (?) podcast (YouTubeSpotifyApple), and to check out our amazing compilation albumsYou can support our unholy work here (Patreon), if you feel like it. Early access to our bigger projects, weekly exclusive recommendations and playlists, and that wonderful feeling that you're encouraging a life-consuming habit. On to James.


What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?

I distinctly remember being first introduced to any music outside of 80s trip-hop and classical (my respective parent’s favorite genres) when I was around 10 or 11 years old. I spent some time at a friend’s house and they showed me Alien Ant Farm and Linkin Park. I wasn’t a huge fan of the former, but the latter stuck with me really hard. I insisted my parents get me both Hybrid Theory and Meteora on CD as soon as humanly possible and blasted them any time I was allowed to pick the music in the car. In 2007, when Minutes to Midnight came out, I was at Target with my mother and saw it for sale the week of release – instant purchase, as I was finally allowed a bit of allowance here and there. I also grabbed Radiohead’s In Rainbows when it dropped a few months later, solely due to the novelty of the build-your-own jewel case release. Literally had no idea who they were, but boy howdy did I sure find out.

What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?

I can’t even say I heard many full lengths growing up besides the aforementioned classical music from my mom, and even then I couldn’t tell you what I listened to. My dad made a lot of mix CDs of various 80s and 90s rock / pop / alternative, so I heard quite a bit of the Eurythmics, Portishead, Train, Pat Metheny, and the like. I got sick of it pretty quick because he refused to change it up particularly often – nowadays I appreciate it a lot more. Portishead’s 3rd is their best record, don’t @ me.

What albums taught you the most about the technical aspect of making music?

I think there are two big ones that hit both ends of my compositional spectrum – Between the Buried and Me’s Colors, and Cult of Luna’s Eternal Kingdom. The former gave me a real taste of how to slam as many amazing ideas as possible into one coherent piece, and how to make all of them equally interesting and eloquent, as well as how to bring back certain ideas and motifs after a long period of time without making it seem forced. The latter is the opposite – how to keep simple ideas going for a long time without becoming boring, how to build on riffs over and over and over until they become impossibly massive. This is something I still see Cult of Luna excelling at to this day. The more technical side of recording more or less just came from years of trial-and-error experience and trying to emulate records I thought had amazing production.

What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?

The new fromjoy self-titled has been annihilating me for the last few weeks. Incredible stuff. It’s refreshing to hear a band that takes metallic hardcore and mixes it with electronica, but not in a way that’s like “oh we threw in some bleeps and bloops for effect.” They use the influence to its fullest. Synth chord progressions that harken back to Nobuo Uematsu’s work on Final Fantasy games (particularly X), the crushed samples and glitching, the absolutely obliterating wall-of-sound production – it’s all the best of Code Orange, Sky Eats Airplane and Vildjharta meshed together. Definitely in my top for AOTY so far.

What album relaxes you or centers you the most?

There are a few different ones depending on what I need my brain to be doing at any given time. If it’s pure focus, deadmau5 Random Album Title really gets me into a groove for most busy work – making graphics, studio or website updates, sending emails etc. I’m not huge on most house or house-adjacent stuff, but that album has a particular vibe that I deeply enjoy. If I need to cool down or sleep, pretty much anything from the new wave of doom-pop is perfect – SOM’s The Shape of Everything, The Fall, and Awake, Junius’s Reports From The Threshold of Death, and Grivo’s Omit and Elude all come to mind. If it’s nothing but pure enjoyment, I always fall back on Callisto’s Noir – just one of the most beautiful albums ever released. I can’t even find words to describe how much I love that record. Just listen to it.

What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?

Besides the fromjoy self-titled that I’ve been ripping almost daily, I really enjoyed the new Jesus Piece and BABYMETAL albums. Just been in a very riffy mood. I’m particularly excited to be attending the Dethklok x BABYMETAL tour that will be rolling through Boston later this year – I was lucky enough to see the former many years ago at Mayhem back in California and am thrilled to finally be seeing them again. It also seems like BABYMETAL puts on a hell of a show, so the two of them together will undoubtedly be amazing. Otherwise, at least as of writing this, the new Herod singles have been incredible and I’m counting the days till the full record drops.

What album is grossly underrated?

I previously mentioned Callisto’s Noir as “one of the most beautiful albums ever released,” but I believe their follow-up Providence is equally good and significantly more underrated. Callisto in general doesn’t get nearly as much attention as they should, and Noir is generally considered their quintessential work. Providence found them with a new vocalist and a distinctly different sonic profile, moving away from atmospheric post-metal to more progressive, almost western-sounding riff-based compositions with lots of wonderful ear candy and counterpoint. It is a truly majestic record that deserves just as much love as Noir.

What album would you recommend from your local scene?

Have to give this one to the absolute GOATs of New England screamo – Dreamwell’s Modern Grotesque (and not just because KZ has an amazing feature on one of our new tracks). The record is a culmination of everything I’ve seen them work towards since foundation, through various trials and tribulations with lineup changes, scumbag record producers and more. It’s a testament to their tenacity and ferocity and you owe it to yourself to give it a spin as soon as humanly possible. Even John Darnielle agrees.