Knelt Rote – Alterity (2018) REVIEW

This Portland, Oregon based blackened grinding war metallic machine was initially a tight-rope walking grindcore noisemaker formed from those detached from Fall of the Bastards and like-minded outsider hardcore/grindcore enthusiasts. Their spring loaded snare and boxed-in riffing represented a hardcore-impassioned unit struggling for control in a world working to dismantle their ideological strengths. Somewhere between 2008 and 2010 Knelt Rote lost control of themselves and they’d given into the warm release of death. Death metal with blasting black metal terrorism in mind, in fact, and their death/grind informed darkness on ‘Insignificance’ in 2010 had tripped headfirst into the pools of truly nihilistic solitude. Knelt Rote‘s grind ethos survived in hallucinatory hardcore bursts amidst the tentacles of extreme metal, slowed and blurred into transitory passages.

By 2012 the fire within the eyes of Knelt Rote had been strangled out and the kool-aid of misanthropic black metal had been drunk. ‘Trespass’ saw their grindcore history and black metal interests collide into what was essentially an organic conception of war metal that didn’t necessarily fit into the box of generations detached ‘on trend’ war metal of today. The atmospherics were closer to 00’s death metal, something thickened by a love of old school death metal a la Immolation and the drum performances felt confident in their destruction rather than frantically extreme. ‘Trespass’ was the appropriate time to fall in love with Knelt Rote for extreme metal fans but I have to say revisiting their entire discography yielded strong results from each release. Played in succession the progression is clear yet the leaps and bounds are clear.

With the old boundaries of Knelt Rote‘s chaos and heaviness chucked aside ‘Alterity’ brings forth a fatalist mindset and a nihilistic view on self-control: They’ve lost it. A grindcore/war metal machine possessed and now leaning heaviest towards their black metal incantations Knelt Rote are at once outsiders and followers as they give in further to the extreme death/black machine for greater impact. The twinkle of hardcore light in their long-possessed eyes is now a stream of poison erupting from their tear ducts in malice well beyond self-defense. ‘Alterity’ was set upon the world to posit the helplessness of existence and the perils of self-obsession, yet were you to remain ignorant of it’s message the tensile riffing and structured grandeur of it would still impress.

The head-blasted thickness of ‘Alterity’ is relentless and perhaps represents the most driven and brutal session from Knelt Rote yet with a fury I’d compare to Vermin Womb and Diocletan‘s more recent material. No section or performance is muddled with studio trickery or cheap reverb and as a result the album commits to a level of forceful aggression appropriate for their ever-growing extremity. I love that they’ve retained their harsh noise integration and found ways to incorporate more riffs into what should be a blurry mess of ‘war metal’, there’s even some pretty good guitar solos on “Salience” and “Black Triptych”. At 22 minutes ‘Alterity’ has the impact of a grindcore record and the variation of a black/war metal album twice as long, you’ll either lavish in it’s density or have to attack it several times to diffuse it. I found it slightly mired in the middle section where structures seemingly rest upon variations, but ultimately would recommend the experience.


Artist Knelt Rote
Type Album
Released February 28, 2018 [CD, Digital] | March 15th, 2018 [LP]
BUY/LISTEN on Nuclear War Now! Productions’ Bandcamp! Knelt Rote on Metal-Archives
Black Metal, Grindcore,
War Metal

The immeasurable reach of denial. 3.5/5.0

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