Knut
Challenger


4.5
superb

Review

by JAV USER (12 Reviews)
July 15th, 2008 | 83 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of the best Metalcore albums ever.

Upon completion of this album your ears may pull out the rape kit. To call this album intense would be an understatement; Challenger is so intelligently brutal it’s almost implausible. Hydrahead records have a knack for signing inspired artists that more often than not create amazing music that feels fresh and original. Jake Bannon (Converge) introduced Knut to Aaron Harris (Isis) who then signed them to HH and toured with them that same year, which should give some idea how good these guys are.

Knut, pronounced cnoot, is influenced by hardcore, heavy metal and punk. Flourishes of math metal are present but it doesn’t feel as pretentious as that genre can sometimes be. Their first official album Bastardiser introduced their style of alternating fast chugging riffs, sudden breaks and time changes. With Challenger they have perfected that formula; not so much changing it as improving upon what they began with. The songs are much more focused, abrasive, and powerful; sounding more cohesive than the at times meandering feel of Bastardiser. While they aren’t necessarily doing anything brand new they are doing it better than anyone I’ve heard.

The first 4 tracks are executed with precision and ferocity. Songs like "Wacked Out" begin at a deceiving slower pace then erupt into a volley of pyroclastic riffs. There is always some kind of musical interjection thrown in whether it’s pick slides, drum fills or some well placed dissonant chords or riffs.

The 4 songs have cleverly had a barely noticeable but gradual slowing which segues nicely into "Neon Guide" so that it doesn’t feel like such a sudden change of pace. It simmers along before lambasting you with a crushing mid tempo thrash a feeling more along the veins of earlier Isis, which sets the mood for "H/armless". The amazing thing about "H/armless" is that it is basically the same palm-muted chord repeated for almost 4 minutes yet it doesn’t get boring. I have a soft spot for droning music but after a point even I get bored if it feels like nothing is happening. There lies the brilliance of it, the chord may be exactly the same all the way through but the touches like the varied intensity of the drumming, interlaced harmonics of the 2nd guitar and the passionate tortured screaming of Didier keep it feeling fresh all the way through.

By the time "58.788" rolls around you may be stunned to hear a lack of insanity coming from your system. It’s a simple acoustic guitar progression backed by a resonating distorted guitar and eerie vocal samples from the Challenger shuttle disaster in 1986. The first signs of a problem were sighted exactly 58.788 seconds after liftoff hence the album and song title. "Ice Will" picks up with the speed intensity of the first tracks with a bit of mathematics thrown in. Then it’s time for the album closer "March". At 19+ minutes this is a grind, but there are actually two parts to the song. The bass is incredibly ominous and builds tension allowing the guitars and drums to progress to the impending climax found in the second half of the song.

The production here is consistent and in my opinion perfectly done; everything can be heard clearly and has plenty of punch. The instruments are mixed so loud it’s almost to the point of clipping/distortion. Pounding fullness of the drums create the perfect base for the lunacy taking place. Usually the bass gets lost in this type of music but here it’s always prominent stampeding along furiously. Imagine if the support cables for the Golden Gate Bridge were stuck on a bass and you’ll have some idea of how great it sounds. The guitars are heavy and have quite a bit of punch but have more of a dirty type of tone compared to the usual more cutting tone used.

One of the things I dislike about the album is it’s pretty much impossible to understand any of the vocals. The song I can get most of the lyrics from is "H/armless" and even then I can barely decipher most of it. It’s more of a nitpick than anything else because the musicianship and power more than make up for the lack of vocal clarity. As is common with this style of music the dying vocals will turn off some listeners but behind it is some of the most cleverly vehement music you could find. If I had to pick a soundtrack to my impending doom this would be one of my top choices, going out with fire and attitude.



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user ratings (110)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
any14doomsday
July 15th 2008


679 Comments


I have only heard terraformer and I think that ones awesome. how does this one compare ?

i am the robots
July 15th 2008


1027 Comments


pretty much the best metalcore album ever

JAV
July 15th 2008


1939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Any1: This one is better in my opinion.

Epilogue
July 15th 2008


1591 Comments


One of the best Metal/doom albums so far.

Knut, pronounced cnoot, is influenced by hardcore, heavy metal and punk.


pretty much the best metalcore album ever

what what what

JAV
July 15th 2008


1939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's like a mixture of a quite a few genres when you listen you'll understand. I would consider plenty of doom music in the heavy metal genre.

First 4 tracks are like punk/metalcore/hardcore. 5, 6 and 9 are more heavy metal doom type stuff.

All these sub-genres really make everything more confusing.

Hawks
July 15th 2008


35838 Comments


This album sounds kind of weird, but interesting.

i am the robots
July 16th 2008


1027 Comments


it's pretty much metalcore/sludge

DBlitz
July 16th 2008


1690 Comments


got this and i'm liking it

i am the robots
July 16th 2008


1027 Comments


its fucking good

DBlitz
July 16th 2008


1690 Comments


yea it is. do they have any other worthwhile stuff?

any14doomsday
July 16th 2008


679 Comments


Terreformer is good, it starts out really heavy like this, but it eventually floats off into ambient tangents.

I must say I really like this, its better the terreformer in my opinion.

JAV
July 17th 2008


1939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Terraformer really has minimal vocals save for samples used in quite a bit of the songs. The later songs are more experimental and spacey.
Solar Flare kicks so much ass though.

Challenger pretty much destroys it in every way but Terraformer isn't bad by any means.


Wizard
July 17th 2008


19448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the best Metalcore albums ever.

I agree! This is one of the best! Really solid review. I think your conclusion could have been a bit stronger but thats just a nitpick.

it's pretty much metalcore/sludge

What sludge?

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

kaospilot
August 2nd 2008


53 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

botch brothers-in-law

McP3000
October 23rd 2008


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the only sludgey part is the beginning and end, with a few other small riffs really.
And some of that has to do with production. People get the sludgieness confused because this album has such a different vibe and sound to it unlike other metalcore records.

Excellence to say the least.

Essence
March 3rd 2009


3585 Comments


awesome album is awesome

Yazz_Flute
May 17th 2009


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is fucking awesome, except I didn't really like the last song. It's about 15 minutes longer than it needs to be.

Digging: Finch (US) - Say Hello to Sunshine

JAV
May 17th 2009


1939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually like the part of March more about 14 minutes in.
Still listen to this all the time too, just so good.

SteelErectedb4you8er
December 18th 2009


2618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

These guys are a solid band that create such extreme aggression. I love it.

JAV
December 21st 2009


1939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pretty intense right?
The songs don't blend together like most releases in this genre.
This stands at the top with a few select others.



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