REVIEW: Bent Knee – “Land Animal”

I have reviewed quite a few of the heavier albums featured on It Djents this year; black metal, doom, tech death and noise are all genres that have been enriched with some spectacular records since January, and I’m quite content with how this year is blossoming into a fantastic one for music. Thankfully, that’s the case for nearly all musical genres this year, not only our friends in the darker realm of the musical spectrum. So let us all appreciate one of my most beloved progressive rock records to chill to and enjoy. Bent Knee has graced us with an album titled Land Animal, which is coming out on the 26th of June.

The record starts off with the surprisingly gentle “Terror Bird”. A beckoning bass drum kicks the song off and a dry, clean and muted guitar chimes in with a minimalist ska-like groove. The cold, soprano voice of singer Courtney Swain is energizing and hypnotizes the listener instantly. It’s like rushing on top of Mount Everest at full speed feeling the cold air fill your lungs. A short burst interrupts this calm yet breathtaking moment with full-fledged 70’s psychedelic grooves. Fuzzy guitars, what sounds like a clavinet and hefty drumming shape the soundscape into something utterly different. Where did this come from? This is only a small taste of the virtuoso beast that Bent Knee can turn into.

While listening to this album for the first time, I couldn’t comprehend the different tastes that this band combined; it stunned my palette. But the slow pacing and only short burst of relative heaviness make Land Animal an enjoyable course after all.

My favorite track of the album was probably “Time Deer”. This track begins almost like a rock opera with funky, fuzzed out guitars and operatic vocals that could remind one of a female version of Freddie Mercury. It’s such an intense beginning that it feels almost like the song could end after seconds. But what comes after such a climactic intro? Well, first, all instruments besides the bass and the drum die out quickly and then start to build slowly. The band is very careful to plan every outbreak of flourishing symphonies carefully. Staccato drumming and a nice 4/4 beat establishes a poppy vibe that resolves in a modern, violin-infused orchestral piece.

I don’t know what else to say except that Land Animal had me in its grips for days. It’s such a beautiful, perfectly paced diamond, but still manages to be colossal. The only minor complaint I have is that this could be too much to take in for some listeners as every song is something to chew on. The band goes so effortlessly over a variety of different genres that this alone makes for something musically stunning. It’s like a Waltz for connecting genres. Bent Knee has brought me my favorite prog rock album this year. Will it be yours?


Score: 9/10

Notable Tracks: “Time Deer”; “Belly Side Up”; “Terror Bird”

FFO: Big Big Train, The Dear Hunter

You can follow Bent Knee on Bandcamp, as well as on Facebook.

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