Those who’ve known me for some time will have had their ears blunted by my constant praise for Birmingham, UK Industrial Doom duo Khost. Equal parts sampled violence, malevolent strings and vocal apocalypse, beautiful Eastern lamentations often deflect from that harsh path and create a nuance flavoured by the likes of VAST and Moby. Their fourth album Buried Steel (Cold Spring Records) sees a band now truly at ease with its style, happy to have edgy two-minute psalms populating a set in the knowledge that they serve a purpose for the whole.
Reviewing a release consisting largely of remixed tracks isn’t something we often do here at Ghost Cult but, when the sinister Industrial harshness of Birmingham UK’s Khost is given such treatment by Justin K. Broadrick, it’s imperative to sit up and take notice. Three tracks from last album Corrosive Shroud (Cold Spring Records) are utterly transformed by the Godflesh supremo and take the lion’s share of coruscating EP (Cold Spring Records).
The Nimoy-esque narrative of ‘Inversion’ is retained, whilst the horrific roars of Andy Swan are given a boost. The Drone-like pace of the original, however, is replaced by the metallic hammering and claustrophobic intensity of Broadrick’s outfit. Damian B’s rampaging, resonant bass is also more to the fore here, whilst the mixing work sees crushing pulses of noise duel with minute icicle drops of melody.
Broadrick’s intense reworking removes any element of softness and results in the near-destruction of the nervous system. The original eastern intonations of ‘A Shadow on the Wound’, so characteristic of the Khost sound, are reduced to mere blurred echoes as Swan’s terrifying, squalling riff and guttural delivery is enhanced. It’s a stark landscape, made miserable by the constant foreboding and scorched by oppressive rasps of electronica. ‘Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves’, meanwhile, is given such an abrasive layering of scratches and pulses that the experience is physically painful: the hostility purely technical yet utterly crushing, and monstrous in its staccato, synthetic brutality.
It is something of a relief to reach new product ‘Deadsset’ which still carries that sampled undercurrent yet seems more easily digestible, without losing any of the febrile tension. A subtler assault on the senses it nevertheless unhinges sanity, a robotic snake steadily coiling around the organs and suffocating the life from them.
That this remains a Khost product despite being mercilessly separated from dominating elements of their personality is a testament to the immediacy and savage intensity of their music. Whether any of these versions can be considered as an improvement is open to conjecture, but it’s a regeneration that does no harm to the band’s growing reputation.
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