*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #11 of the SBR Album of the Week.
What’s the definition of a cult album? Surely, one recorded fifteen years ago and left to gather dust under a cloud of self-doubt and mental struggles? We have no idea why the Dutch experimental duo of Knekelput decided to put their art in the public domain this year, but we’re all the richer for it. Whether released in 2007 or 2022, Teloorgang sounds like nothing on this planet.
You know something is off kilter within the first thirty seconds of opener, ‘Totale Atrofie Van Lichaam En Geest’, just as you stroked your chin the first time you heard Obscura by Gorguts. Knekelput capture the nail-biting turbulence of the first decade of this century in the arbitrary rhythms of their music. The surprise use of screaming pitch bends with distorted bass notes conjures a sinister but progressive soundscape before they rip into a spew of death metal riffs accented by offbeat rimshots. Don’t even bother to work out the time signature. Instead, let the stop-start ferocity take you to places not listed on the map. Imagine a black metal version of Fantomas with Cannibal Corpse vocals and no end of jagged swerves.
Atmosphere takes priority over virtuoso musicianship on Teloorgang, but the latter is always astounding. ‘Dualitet’ blends vicious doom metal chords and textured tremolo patterns over jazz fusion drums and gory death metal rumbles. You cannot even guess what will happen next. Might we call this experimental blackened death-doom? The distant folk singing in the background radiates with a divine plea for deliverance. Clean guitar melodies glisten with a dark foreboding in the intro to ‘Utopie’ and shrink under the sorrows of the e-bow. Like early Gojira, they explode like an escaped beast with mind-boggling passages of long, non-repeating sequences. The croaky frog voice on ‘Maalsteen’ gives it a morbid presence among the avant-doom collision of loud bass and dissonant guitar chords, yet the clarity of the double-kick triplets leaves you in suspense for a climax that never arrives. By this time, your mind cannot contemplate a dramatic zenith. Maudlin of the Well are one of the few comparisons you can make to the music on display here.
The metal world needs artists that have no regard for rules or conventions. Knekelput are the type of band that experimental jazz musicians can enjoy as much as the black metal crowd. Dutch pioneers, Dodecahedron, came after them but released their music to the public at a time when Knekelput let theirs sit on a hard drive. ‘De Bron’ uses the bizarre guitar phrasing of Frank Zappa and the rhythms of krautrock to underpin the death metal splatter. Ask if you’ve heard anything like this? What about the Ved Buens Ende meets Morbid Angel concoction of ‘Een Schemerig Pad’? These comparisons are near futile, but how else can you comprehend the sophistication of this mirage of spontaneity?
If the apocalypse cures man of his arrogance and the illusion that he can master his environment, it will sound like the chaotic technical doom metal of ‘Waan’. The two styles should be incompatible, but Knekelput outfox the paradox here. Your body can accept the eerie cor anglais and intricate guitar noodling of closing track ‘Wedergeboorte Van Waan In Teloorgang’ and your mind can find peace knowing that innovation in extreme metal is stronger than ever.
This is an album that will often perplex you and will always keep you guessing, but it’s an exhilarating ride even if your mind cannot fathom every twist and turn. How did something as innovative as this remain on the shelf for fifteen years?
Release Date: 25/10/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Dualitet, Maalsteen, De Bron
Suggested Further Listening: Gorguts – Obscura (1998), Maudlin of the Well – Bath (2001), Grey Aura – Zwart Vierkant (2021)