My immediate thought the first time I heard Banshee was ‘Oh, I bet someone, somewhere, is irrationally pissed off by this.’
Banshee is Rachel Knight, and her music is near impossible to label, but fuck it, let’s try.
With a combination of trap beats and spacey yet so sinister melodies, there are some loose similarities to the ‘trap metal’ movement (you see where I’m going with the ‘irrationally pissed off’ thing yet?).
Vocally, Knight is a chameleon. At her gentlest, her childlike, innocent delivery sounds like any post-2018 radio pop songstress, but these are not the lyrics of a pop song. Abuse, lack of faith, and a general sense of dread permeate the themes throughout Banshee’s songs, and make for fascinating atmosphere.
But when Knight shifts gears, Banshee becomes something truly special. Distorted, black-metalesque screeching absolutely earn Knight the Banshee monicker.
And this is where there are steadfast purists who will hate what Banshee does. This is not metal, but it could be suggested it borrows heavy from an extreme metal aesthetic. This is like what Poppy would be, if she were a sincere artistic force, and not completely manufactured to appeal to whichever demographic seems ripe for mining that week.
There are some, the same folk who think acts like Ghostemane are a bastardisation rather than an evolution, who would rather everything remain neatly organised and set apart. Clearly delineated and content.
But music genres are a symptom of culture and of the period. Metal is an especially great umbrella genre because most, of not all, of the subgenres still have a place in the culture today. If you liked power metal in the 80s, good news, there’s still great power metal being produced today.
So the pockets of the community who seem to be threatened when an outsider skirts too close to the edge of their world need not be worried. Metal remains uncorrupted.
I’m a metal head to my core. But when I discover an artist like Banshee (or Ghostemane, or Backxwash) my reaction is not frustration, but excitement.
Drag me kicking and screaming from my niche, Banshee. I crave it.