KNUT – Challenger + DIY EP [remaster 2023] – DOWNLOAD

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out April 19th 2024 on Humus Records
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Didier Séverin’s sudden departure from Earth in March 2022 left a gaping hole. But he left us a considerable legacy, including Challenger, released in March 2002 on Hydra Head Records (USA). A cathartic album, the point of combustion in an upward trajectory which began eight years earlier when Didier Severin (vocals), Philippe Hess (guitar), Roderic Mounir (drums) and Thierry van Osselt (bass) – later replaced by Jeremy Tavernier – embarked on the Knut adventure. At the time, Geneva, along with Copenhagen, was one of the European capitals of squat culture and a crossroads for international tours. Community and DIY ideals deeply infused Knut’s modus operandi, their ability to create a network and a label, Snuff Records contributing to the rise of the local scene (Nostromo, Brazen, Shora, Fragment, Grace).

After a self-released mini-album (Leftovers, 1997) and a first full-length (Bastardiser, 1998), Knut’s singularity established itself at the turn of the millennium, attracting the attention of a label whose activism was making waves across the Atlantic: Hydra Head Records was releasing records by Cave In, Botch, Converge, Isis, Keelhaul, Craw, Discordance Axis, Khanate, Dälek, Jesu, Oxbow and many others, bridging the gap between extreme music inspired by hardcore/metal, and noise-rock, experimental music, ambient and more. Free and adventurous spirits were to meet across oceans. In 2000, Knut tied their destiny to Hydra Head Records and set course for their most ambitious recording, which would put the band firmly in orbit.

On Challenger, an album simultaneously wild and cerebral, where chaotic vehemence rubbed shoulders with reflective, almost psychedelically repetitive tracks, Didier found his voice, delivering through his cryptic lyrics his share of chaos and his quest for transcendence. What did he have in mind when he titled this album Challenger? Was it an ironic comment on Knut’s status in the post-hardcore-metal-noise galaxy – a path traced by Neurosis, Today is the Day, Converge, Bloodlet, Botch, Coalesce, Breach, to which Knut added more or less obscure influences (Godflesh, Zeni Geva, Eisenvater, Dazzling Killmen, Merzbow)? Undoubtedly, with his own sense of irony, he was also alluding to the fatal ascent of the eponymous Nasa shuttle, which burned at second 58.788, giving its title to one of the album’s instrumental tracks.

Challenger marked a breakthrough, an affirmation and an existential cry whose echoes have continued to reverberate ever since. In the summer of 2001, Knut embarked on a three-week tour of the United States with Isis. In 2002, British top extreme magazine Terrorizer ranked Challenger 17th among the 40 best albums of the year, alongside Isis, Mastodon, Opeth, Napalm Death, Meshuggah, Queens of the Stone Age, High on Fire, Satyricon…

After a previous reissue in 2010 on Division Records, Challenger now comes in a Deluxe edition on double LP Gatefold 180 grams thanks to Humus Records. The tracks have been remastered by Serge Morattel himself. And there’s more: the fourth side features three tracks originally released in 1999 on a DIY CD, igniting a long-term collaboration between Serge Morattel and Knut. These three tracks, also remastered, showcase Knut’s musical evolution towards Challenger. Hydra Head had previously assembled them on an Untitled CDEP in 2001, but this is the first time they’ve been brought together on the same vinyl.

Artwork is adapted from Aaron Turner’s original work, with photos by Jason Hellmann.

Challenger 2024 is the opportunity to (re)discover this masterpiece and, above all, to celebrate the memory of Didier Séverin. His vibrant, thunderous presence will forever leave its mark.