posted on 9/2010 By:
Most serious music fans find themselves with a collection of pet styles. If you know, for instance, that you absolutely love bands who sound like first-four-era Black Sabbath, then you can more conveniently cater to your own tastes by glomming onto bands who peddle that sound. Of course, this same tactic will also lead you to tout emphatically for bands that most people won’t find especially interesting.
Knut’s brand of contorted turn-of-the-millennium metalcore is among my own pet styles. This Swiss band is actually one of that short-lived scene’s many forgotten progenitors. They formed in ’94, and their ‘98 debut Bastardiser helped set the tone for the legions of Converge-shirted imitators who popped out of the woodwork between 2000 and 2004.
Knut have essentially been out of the game for 8 years. 2005’s Terraformer was a shameless but enjoyable collection of ISIS-styled trudgers, and the band has been silent since. But Wonder, their fourth full-length and their third with Aaron Turner’s Hydra Head, sees them returning to all their old tricks.
And if you remember the early years of this past decade, you know exactly what to expect here. The bulk of Wonder spews vintage tech riffs like nobody’s business. Squiggly guitars spiral all over tracks like “Leet” and “Fast Forward Bastard,” hanging on to Knut’s disfigured rhythms for dear life . Wonder features a handful of down-tempo rumblers, but most of the album is noisy, complex, and off-kilter.
A lot of my formative heavy-music experiences involved this kind of music, and I first encountered Knut as a wee fifteen-year-old. It’s no surprise that I enjoy Wonder—Knut executes this music with poise and confidence borne of their long experience. But even though it hits the pet-style sweet spot for me, I have to acknowledge that Wonder is decidedly second-tier. Despite Knut’s high degree of competence, they offer neither the unforgettable songwriting idiosyncrasies of a Coalesce or Botch nor the sense of teeth-grinding insanity delivered by The Dillinger Escape Plan and their ilk.
Ultimately, Knut are a connoisseur’s band: they will more than satisfy those with a preexisting interest in their niche, but they’re not a worthy investment for the general public…no matter how much I’d like them to be.
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