Swiss metal band Knut have decided to take a rather interesting approach to music, one that’s going to keep you from ever seeing them play. How? Simple: The band refuses to tour. Instead, they will exist solely as a studio group, and it’s really a shame, because the band's slow-churning power would translate extremely well into the live setting.
Terraformer is an absolutely devastating display of power and atmosphere. The droning riffs and drawn out vocals echo far past their actual playing, coming through your speakers, but resonating over and over again, drilling the sounds into your head. It’s a musical assault on all fronts.
Vocals are kept to a bare minimum, utilized more in the first track, “Wyriwys,” than anywhere else on the record. It does seem somewhat a shame at first that Knut went the route of bands like Neurosis, but the more you listen, the more you understand that no matter how powerful the vocal presence could be, simplicity is never overstated. Like their droning metal counterparts, they rely more on powerful grooves and an overall atmospheric landscape than on unrelenting power, of which they possess plenty. The easy thing to do would be to just pummel the listener with those destructive riffs and hellacious vocals; what’s more difficult is really crafting a song to be enjoyable without that. The power is always there, as there’s always an underlying sense of danger, or impending eruption, and it’s that stationary energy that makes a lot of the songs so compelling.
Equally compelling is their ability to strike a balance. They do have a decent amount of faster sections, as “Seattle” demonstrates, and those instances sound just as fresh and just as tight as the loud, slow, droning sections. It bodes well for the band that they’re able to mix things up a little bit and not just rely on some up and down grooves, but they can mix tempos and mix sounds. Where the band is really able to spread their wings though, are the longer, more epic tracks like “Evian” and “Solar Flare.” Both provide numerous twists and turns, layers and textures that retain interest well, even in the complete absence of vocals. The methodical drumming that leads out the latter really sinks into your head, making sure you hear the cymbals crash long after the song is actually over. The one real gripe I have about this record is the last track, “Fibonacci Unfolds,” which ends things in an extremely anticlimactic fashion, with just minimalist droning for around six minutes. It just doesn’t fit well with the rest of the album.
Knut have undoubtedly deviated from their past, more vocal-based recordings, but what they’ve done here is something that makes them right at home on the Hydra Head roster.