Knut – Terraformer

Knut
Terraformer

Swiss noise terrorists Knut have been at it for nearly 12 years now, yet Terraformer is somehow only the band’s third full-length release. 1998’s debut, Bastardizer, was almost completely ignored by most, but it was indeed a one of the better debut albums from that year, hinting at a bright future for a very promising band. 2002 brought Challenger, one of the year’s best albums, and while still vastly overlooked, the buzz on Knut was steadily growing. Finally, 2006 brings the release of the long-awaited follow up to the brilliant 2002 album.

Since the release of Challenger, the loud, sludgy thinking-man’s metal associated with Hydra Head has blown up with landmark releases by Isis, Pelican, Cult of Luna, etc. The timing for one
of the genre’s stalwart, groundbreaking bands’ third full-length could not be better. This was the one that was supposed to catapult Knut into stardom. What a letdown.

Don’t get me wrong: Terraformer isn’t terrible in and of itself, but in scope, this could be a lot better. Knut is no longer one of the genre’s leaders; it almost seems as though these guys are desperately trying to keep up with the pack. Where Challenger was full of off-time pummeling groove, Terraformer sounds like they wants to be Isis way too bad. They still have quite a few of those brutal moments, but they have added a lot of mid-paced plodding and detuned droning that honestly doesn’t have the same power as bands like Isis.

Knut was once cutting-edge, but I really feel like Terraformer is a serious step back for the band. These musicians are no longer forging their own sound, instead relying a lot on their peers for influence on this album. Maybe the time between albums has something to do with it, but it seems like if you are going to wait four years between albums, you would have plenty of time to work out the kinks and release something dynamite. This might get the band a few new fans thanks to the popularity of the mid-paced droning riffs, but it will also probably alienate quite a few past fans.