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Review
Khost | ‘Governance’


Nearly two years on from the excellent ‘Corrosive Shroud’, Birmingham’s premiere industrial/doom outfit (besides Godflesh) return with another album designed to blow the cobwebs off and submerge the listener in soot caked nihilism.

And the listener certainly gets that with opener ‘Redacted Repressed Recalcitrant.’

Five odd minutes of hymn like samples, noise snippets, a digital sounding (yet utterly pulverising) guitar tone, a very metallic sounding hi hat and growls that emanate somewhere deep within the bowels of humanity, it’s a nightmarish and atmospheric song that sums up everything about Khost, and acts as a forewarning to any faint hearted listeners: abandon hope all ye who enter here.

‘Subliminal Chloroform Violation’ follows a similar path, but the hymn like vocals are given much more prominence for the first forty five seconds, creating a mood of serenity and loneliness within the listener, before the band kick in with a more restrained (yet no less crushing) riff to act as a counterbalance.

Because of the mechanised brutality and human frailty on show, this makes ‘Subliminal…’ the most evocative song on this album: the listener envisages themselves in the wreckage of a plane in the Tibetan mountains, the heavy blizzards represented in the riffs, while the vocals act as a cry for help.

‘Low Oxygen Silo’ begins as a more downtempo, laid back number with an Armenian duduk playing melodies reminiscent of Mychael Danna’s work on the ‘8mm’ soundtrack.

This ends up battling for prominence in the mix when the guitar and drums take off, but the stop/start nature of the riff allows for an almost free jazz element to come to fruition. A very cool touch, and a refreshing change from the John Zorn type saxophones that usually accompany extreme music in this shape.

‘Cloudbank Mausoleum’ features a spoken word appearance from Oxbow main man Eugene Robinson, while DIY cellist Jo Quail adds some Elizabeth Parker like melodies to ‘Defraction.’

Both blend in perfectly, with their contributions contributing elements of humanity to the inhuman Khost sound (just as they did on the debut LP ‘Copper Lock Hell’). A slight progression from the previous LP, but a highly welcome one.

Concept Band

Increasingly, it is obvious that Khost are becoming a concept band, in that they are producing albums that need to be appreciated in one listen, preferably on a damp, autumn evening coming home from work. The pitch black outlook and blackened doom riffage will suck the listener into a vortex, and it’s all the more compelling.

What would be cool to see them do as a future release would be the soundtrack for an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. One track, fifty minutes long.

Given the atmospheric nature of Khost’s music, this would be something that would play to their strengths but also force them to take one or two detours without the safety of there being another song to break into.

So, musically, the band are at the top of their game.

Where they really need to pay attention to is their artwork.

‘Corrosive Shroud’ just about got a pass based on it’s visual trickery (is it a guitar, or a council block), but this is just nothing. It gives no indication of how the music is going to sound, nor does it catch the eye.

A return to the style of ‘Copper Lock Hell’ would be welcome, as it leant the band a certain visual style that actually worked well with the music.

Aside from that, this is a sterling album which acts as an alternate soundtrack for the fall of humanity.

4 / 5 -Christopher Owens ::: 02/06/17


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