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.
Melbourne Industrial trio Kollaps has something of a reputation for incendiary live shows bordering on the violent, so involved are the band members with the apocalyptic noise they produce. Second album Mechanical Christ (Cold Spring Records) is the depiction of a hopeless, senseless world society, and a progression from debut album Sibling Lovers (Silken Tofu).Continue reading
It’s another one of those typically cold, grey April evenings in central Birmingham. Slowly darkening skies, a distinct chill in the air, and a dense pall of doom hanging over The Asylum as it’s clear that first band Khost are already on as I arrive. Luckily, the band are only a couple of songs in, but the slowly gathering crowd are already enraptured by the duo’s atmospheric industrial grind. Continue reading
It’s a curious spelling but when you realise that Yerûŝelem is the new project of Vindsval and W.D. Feld, high priests of French dark experimentalists Blut Aus Nord, nothing else is expected. As mystical as they are, and as profoundly dramatic and volatile as the city which gives the band its name, debut album The Sublime (Debemur Morti Productions) is both an enthralling and a nerve-tingling experience. Continue reading
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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He was so deeply huddled under a blanket that it took a while to locate the source of the voice hollering my name. Eytan Wineapple, curator of the rumbling beast that was the NOIZ All-Dayer, initially celebrated its second incarnation looking like death warmed up. After a long couple of days, with Wineapple escorting eventual headliners Dukatalon to Sheffield and back, they eventually bedded down in today’s venue. “They got here around 3 a.m., and I tucked them all in!” joked Rebellion manager and event collaborator Hayley. Five minutes later, the flat-capped Wineapple was bounding around like a madman: putting to serious shame Ghost Cult’s scribe who, twelve hours later, and still nearly three hours from the denouement, interviewed said host in a rather weary and addled fashion…
NOIZ is not your average festival. Displays of album-style art and guitars in various stages of completion (one of which is raffled off later in the day) stand beside the S.O.P.H.I.E. merch stall in the upper level of the club-style venue. A dedicated handful, meanwhile, witness the pulverising Industria of openers Khost: looking for all the world like a couple of local scallies bumbling about on a stage, yet laying waste with a mystical power which deserved a better slot and much more attention. The Birmingham duo’s ambient, crushing set, its implosive chords and guttural scours blending with a wonderful and passionate line in Middle-Eastern vocal samples, ended bang on time: a courtesy that some of the festival’s other performers could have tried harder to match.
Saturday 2nd April sees the latest all-day event to grace the UK city of Manchester. The NOIZ All-Dayer is the brainchild of Eytan Dorron Wineapple, a popular and passionate figure of the local Metal scene, and this third such event sees an incredible Low-end bill decorated with other displays, including an art exhibition. While Brit heavyweights The Wounded Kings, Witchsorrow and Hang the Bastardare arguably the biggest names of the fourteen bands on show, of equal note is Israeli outfit Dukatalon’s first appearance on these shores.
Despite the predominance of the monolithic chord, the packed lineup shows variance: Birmingham Industrial duo Khost and Psychedelic Heavy Soul trio Vodun make mouth–watering appearances, whilst the occult groove is also present in the form of Sussex-raised Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. It’s a bill reflecting Eytan’s love of crushing strings, but also reflects his desire and devotion to bring the best acts to his local area: “Yeah, I’m really happy with the lineup”, he says, “It totally delivers on our promise of big riffs and heavy tones.” It seems the inclusion of the fabled Dukatalon, meanwhile, is a testament to networking and to the curator’s dedication and hard work: “This is their first UK tour. I got in touch with the band through a mutual Israeli friend and went from there.”
So does the strength of the bill create headaches for future events? Eytan doesn’t think so. “I wouldn’t say it adds any pressure. It’s just a natural thing to want to make things bigger and better than previous times. For sure this lineup is bigger, and the production will be slicker. No doubt the same will be said about the next one, however, so no, there’s no pressure.”
Encouraging words for the future, then. This is a festival with something a little different: a host of visual and audio delights to ensnare the senses, smack-bang in the centre of Town, and at £12 a ticket it’s as good as a free gig. You know what to do…
Even in this musically idiosyncratic world of genres, sub-genres, tribes, sub-tribes and singleton geniuses, the desire for Finnish psychedelic folk rock may not have been top of your musical shopping list. You should change that forthwith now that Hexvessel’s third album, the striking When We Are Death (Century Media), has arrived for our collective delectation.
Four years ago, their second album, No Holier Temple was a curious and often compelling blend of Woods of Ypres inspired atmospherics, Opeth tinged acoustics and an obvious and deep-seated love of drug influenced 60s and 70s rock, particularly that made by Mr. Jim Morrison and his partners in crime in The Doors.
No Holier Temple was about the trip and the mood; it was inviting and beguiling. By contrast, When We Are Death initially appears as a straightforward folk rock record. Before you jump to a logical conclusion that they have thrown the baby out with the Finnish bathwater, hold your psychedelic horses. The band’s love of psychedelia remains resolutely intact: when you have songs called Drugged Up On the Universe and Mushroom Spirit Doors it is fairly self-evident how the band spend part of their leisure time but there is also a much more deliberate attention to song structure and that oft-ignored discipline of the tune in distinct evidence here. Have a listen, for example to the sparky, keyboard soaked friskiness of When I Am Dead or the smoky jazz backdrop of the reflective and melancholic Mirror Boy and you’ll immediately understand what I’m getting at.
At the heart of this collective endeavour is the vocal prowess of British born Mat McNerney who has a fragility and emotional heft to his voice that does three things particularly well. First: it brings an authenticity to the songs that cuts through with striking immediacy. Second: as narrator, his range is never overbearing nor irritating. Third: he does the best Jim Morrison you’ve heard in ages. Oh and, yes, this is the same Mat from Beastmilk, by the way.
Hexvessel are an intoxicating proposition. They are not, repeat, not, a heavy metal band. Not in the stereotypical sense of the phrase anyway.However, Hexvessel share some of the same qualities and attitude that underscores the metal aesthetic. This is a record is a record of charm and wit and invention. It is a record that is warm and inviting and, being released in the depths of winter, you cannot say any fairer than that. So we won’t.
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And now the end is near, and so we face 2015’s final curtain, and once more the Ghost Cult army got together to vote for their favourites. The results? More than 20 writers pitched and voted on over 220 albums ranging from indie pop to the most horrific savage tentacle laden death metal showing the depth, breadth of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year for 2015.
The votes have been cast, the dust has settled… let the countdown commence…
“Despite what you may have heard, The Ark Work is neither the ultimate transformation of stupid music into art nor the final betrayal of Metal’s values by the poser hordes. It is, however, one of the boldest, most distinctive and utterly unflinching Metal albums you’ll hear all year”
“A startling, spellbinding piece of work. Having given us Sabbath, Napalm Death, Godflesh, and Anaal Nathrakh, Birmingham – and Khost – has just provided Metal’s latest evolution.”
“A strong, distinctive album with its own character and some genuinely excellent songwriting and works well as both an introduction to one of the most genuinely interesting metal bands of the last twenty years and an album in its own right.”
47. Rivers of Nihil – ‘Monarchy’ (Metal Blade)
“Rather than fifty minutes of a constant snare and uninspiring distorted low tuned guitars, Rivers of Nihil have really focused on expanding, adding more atmosphere and a dynamic to keep a hold.”
“Now that they can’t be pigeonholed to djent or the “Sumerian sound” it leaves Periphery open to be viewed for what they truly are, a brilliant metal band. ”
45. Publicist UK – ‘Forgive Yourself’ (Relapse)
“When I cranked this album on my laptop the last thing I expected was the musical equivalent of Joy Division on a collision course with Cave In, but what a lovely wreck it turned out to be.”
“Complete with Gorod’s signature Bossa Nova-infused jazzy riffs and complex arrangements, A Maze of Recycled Creeds stands not only as Gorod’s crowning achievement, but also that of 2015.”
‘Monotony Fields’ adds a touch of light to the overwhelming darkness of Funeral Doom yet, far from trivialising it, only increases its power to move and intrigue. This is as refreshing as it is heartfelt and affecting.”
42. Bell Witch – ‘Four Phantoms’ (Profound Lore)
“Bell Witch continue to confound, enthral, terrify and move in equal measure; and in creating a second album of such weight and emotion prove themselves peerless.”
“Armed with 12 new ditties toasting humanity’s self-destruction, the new Slayer album is a complex one. Overall Repentless is an enjoyable, fierce album that sounds essentially like a Slayer album should.”
The West Midlands of England has yet another grimy, hooded secret. One as cacophonous and electrifying as Birmingham duo Khost, however, surely cannot be suppressed much longer. Second album Corrosive Shroud (Cold Spring) begins with the sample-driven Industrial swell that defines their sound: a sonic barrage, delivered at an oft-crushingly slow pace, yet fed by walls of the most pulverising low-end chords you’re ever likely to experience.
With the band’s trademark, sampled Eastern chants giving a melodic yet eerie edge, opener ‘Avici’ forces Moby’s Play-era sound into a blender with the clashing steel of Godflesh and the unbearable might of Sunn O))). The howling roars of ‘Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves’ are initially dwarfed by this unfathomable weight; the horror of their hatred and pain, however, remains undimmed and unmasked, whilst metallic clangs and mashing beats create a cauldron of boiling intensity.
The squalling chaos of début album Copper Lock Hell (Cold Spring) is somewhat replaced here by a more cohesive structure, yet no power is lost, instead being augmented by that heightened Asian influence which lends a unique and emotive diversion. Resonant strikes, when delivered, provide a terrifying alarm call: the slow, steadily pounding sticks of ‘Black Rope Hell’, for example, enter a brief period of quiet in the most invasive fashion whilst filthy, throbbing feedback is suddenly unleashed from the silence, crumpling one’s body. This segues into the magnificent ‘A Shadow On The Wound’, like a sludgy Aevangelist, the salve of those haunting wails a hypnotic contrast, yet as complementary as salt with chocolate. Here is the inexplicable magnetism of Khost – the ability to weave seamlessly the most offensive, deafening, programmed fear with moments of ethereal beauty, creating an experience as captivating as it is nerve-shredding. It’s during those involuntary tics of anticipation, the body often compelled to assume the foetal position for comfort, that one realises how stirring the sound is; an outpouring of emotion and energy, a stretched depiction of a primal scream, essential whilst undoubtedly polarising opinion.
The almost-tribal ‘VMIH’, its surrounding noise less of a contribution than before, exhibits the importance of the participation of rhythm, be it artificially or manually produced. Showing the willingness to incorporate other styles, the last two tracks are remixes of the opening salvo: the former heavily beat-led and mesmeric; the latter a more unsettling encounter awash with deep bass notes, that native intonation falling into oscillating effects and roar-strewn narrative, completing the creation of three songs from one. It’s pure art, invention with a purpose, brutal and occasionally unfathomable yet all the more natural for it.
Brimming with moments of great meaning such as the mournful Shoegaze and pensive poetics infiltrating ‘Inversion’; the exploding violence and skewing electricity of ‘Red Spot’; and the pulsating waves and crashing horror of ‘Bystander’; this is a startling, spellbinding piece of work. Having given us Sabbath, Napalm Death, Godflesh, and Anaal Nathrakh, Birmingham – and Khost – has just provided Metal’s latest evolution.