Knut – Wonder

4 out of 5

Label: Hydra Head

Produced by: Serge Morattel (recorded by, mixed by)

I don’t disagree that this is kind of a hodgepodge of other things we’ve heard on Hydra Head, notably a lot of Keelhaul influence, with maybe some early Botch thrown in there, but that’s okay – this is tightly played, well produced, enthusiastically performed stuff. The group flip-flops between punkier 2-minute blasts and similarly brief little math numbers, with some longer form instrumentals and occasionally broader, tonally denser offerings like If We Can’t Fly There, We’ll Take A Boat. Vocalist Didier Severin has a great howl – crisp, visceral, but you can actually pick out words, and he’s got a bit of range that makes it feel varied enough beyond just shouting. The group is maybe all rhythm section, but is fantastic down the line; I’d say if there’s anything “defining” about Knut, it’s that: that they always seem to play as a group, with no one exactly nabbing the spotlight. Of course, this is also what maybe makes them slightly less distinctive amongst their peers, but it allows Wonder to never get overwhelming; it’s a heavy record that’s easy to spin again and again.

Some of this is a bit disposable – the segue tracks don’t add much texture; Calamity feels like a B-side stuffed in there because it’s less than 2 minutes long – but the album is really well-rounded overall, taking those other Hydra Head bits and pieces and kinda boiling them down to just hooks and just the most headbanging-worthy moments.