In many ways, Switzerland's KNUT is the quintessential Hydra Head band, powering its songs with drone dynamics, dense riffs, calamitous outbursts, and a foundation that is built with atmosphere as a defining component, all of which is done with little vocal accompaniment. On "Terraformer", the band's first album in three years, KNUT has crafted a dependable collection of tunes that is a better than average example of a broadly defined genre, even though one would be hard pressed to call it experimental or unpredictable. "Terraformer" sounds I predicted it would.
As I plowed through the disc, a couple of bands came to mind (for a variety of reasons) at various points: MESHUGGAH and KEELHAUL. I will leave out any reference to those prototypical ISIS moments, as anyone familiar with acts of this ilk could hear a resemblance at some point along the way. Oops, I guess I did it anyway. The MESHUGGAH comparison comes from the down-tuned riffs, rubbery bass, and borderline-psychotic barks of songs like "Wyriwys". Rather than sticking to slower, repeating rhythms, KNUT also employs up-tempo, seizure inducing cuts, such as "Kyoto" and "Torvaldo", the latter including some smoother vocal lines. "Fallujah" is a two-minute mover as well, utilizing spoken samples in the place of vocals. The spacey stuff is found on tracks like "Bollingen", the seven-minute "Solar Flare" (light shades of MERZBOW are heard on this one), and wispy album-closer "Fibonacci Unfolds". The songs are worthy of your attention, but by no means essential.
There was a time when albums like "Terraformer" would have been seen as groundbreaking. While well done and mildly intriguing, the work of KNUT will do little to turn heads for those already familiar with the HH aesthetic.