Knelt Rote unload unsettling emotion, psychological hell on devastation-smashed ‘Alterity’

How much madness is too much? At what point does one’s psyche collapse under the pressure and render itself incapable of moving ahead any further and only can deal with the very end of things? On that same note, how does one accurately portray that frame of crumbling mind in music in a way where you not only hear but feel the utter destruction?

Before even reading a word of the bio information accompanying “Alterity,” the panic-inducing fourth record from grind smashers Knelt Rote, it felt like this was a collection of music that isn’t for every listener, no matter how harsh one’s tastes might be. This is an album that pushes things over the edge, from the sound to the delivery to the unmistakable darkness that greets you at its gates. After poring over the information about this record, it wasn’t a surprise to learn some of the themes are social dissolution, identity (the album title hints at this), mental illness, obsession, and non-physical suicide. The album and its seven songs feel like one’s mind being shredded slowly, as the blood and pain are allowed to drip in long, sticky tributaries that are testaments to one’s breakdown. The band—guitarist/vocalist Gordon Ashworth, bassist/guitarist Lucas Danner, and drummer Elias Bloch—already are a deadly force live, but they’ve taken their agony and punishment to a new level. A person I’m friendly with on social media described this record as being something the world is not really to handle, and I can’t put it any better myself. That’s a warning.

“Lachesis” starts the record, and right away, there are signs of great trouble. Noise envelopes everything and threatens to derail the record before it begins, but then the assault unloads, with the vocals punishing, and some black metal-style melodies arriving. The track is a total fucking massacre, pushing your blood to the forefront, leading toward “Lineage and Dependence,” where guitars well like a town-ending flood. The pace smashes, while the vocal savagery mashes nerves, but then a weird swagger arrives and changes the tone. The pace melts, while uncomfortable whispers pelt, and wild howls smash you to bits. “Rumination” has a purely death metal start, as grisly fury and a barbarian-style assault are unleashed. The riffs clobber, while Ashworth’s growls devastate, and things come to an abrupt, smothering end.

“Genetic Memory” is a bulldozer, as the growls feel like they’re trying to devour the earth, and speed and ugliness spread. Blood and guts are spilled all over, and then it’s into “Othering,” where drums burst, and ferocious power is dealt. The growls roar, while violence erupts across the land, and then it’s into chunky mauling and pure pit fighting. “Salience” has drums pounding away, as slow-driving filth pushes your face into the dirt. Cavernous growls erupt and signal trouble, while chaos bleeds through the wall and splits heads. Monstrous growls send shrapnel flying, while sounds emerge and drown out everything. Closer “Black Triptych” spills venom with a vengeance, as growls swarm like millions of wasp nests, and the soloing goes off. The vocals are packed with a fury, as the murderous power and intense mental trauma finally subside.

Knelt Rote’s fury and abysmal chaos in their heads are on full display with “Alterity,” easily the most painful and punishing of their four records. It’s been six long years since we last heard from the band, and it’s clear in the time since “Trespass” that things have only grown darker and more dangerous. This is a record to approach with caution, especially if you identify with the themes, because you only can walk away a more broken, shattered person.

For more on the band (um, sort of), go here:

To buy the album (vinyl not available until May), go here:

For more on the label, go here:

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