"It's cold when birds fall from the sky..."
Khanate were a drone doom metal band from my home state, New York. They released 3 full length albums, the self titled, "Things Viral", and "Clean Hands Go Foul". "Capture and Release", the subject of my review, is their second and last EP that they released, and the 8th out of 11th of their releases overall.
"Capture and Release", along with all of Khanate's albums, is a very terrifying listening experience. This should be no surprise, however, because doom idol Stephen O' Malley of drone legend Sunn O))) plays guitars on this album. Sunn O))) are a band known to crank out some remarkably unnerving tracks, but with Khanate he tunes the horror amps up to 11. Yes, this is disturbing, fucked up shit, and I love it.
Musically, this EP is an utter, complete mess. Both of the lengthy songs on here are mainly comprised of one drone riff that sounds like it is coming from a catacomb deep beneath your feet. The drumming does little to nothing, only playing when really necessary, or just to crawl under your skin and tease you. The bass is heavy as a loaded truck, using mainly sweeping ambient bursts of feedback and crushing tone to get it's point across. The vocals are a high pitched, absolutely disturbed shriek, fitting the grotesque and obscure nature of the lyrics. Everything about this release just screams "nightmare". Hell, the band even throws in some ambient pieces of silence into the mix. Chances are if you like the faster or more mainstream side of metal (either that or if you're a sane person, unlike me) you will not like this record.
This might bring you to a question, however. If this EP is such a musical mess, how can it possibly be good? How can such an awful sounding, all over the place record possibly be of any merit? The reason it is good, in my opinion, is because of the horrifying atmosphere it portrays. Khanate were not trying to be an easy listening experience, rather - they try (and succeed) to push you out of your comfort zone. There is no real music here - just noise. Nothing but nightmare inducing, stomach twisting noise. However, it is not noisy in the vein of bands like Enmity or grindcore bands - it is noisy in the fact that the sweeping ambients and droning that sounds like the musical equivalent of a depressed snail. Khanate attempted to sound like disorganized noise, and they did so.
My favorite aspect of this band and EP are the lyrics. While reading or listening to them, you literally FEEL like you are the killer described in these lyrics, commiting his horrible crimes and passing them off as if it is of no merit. They're not deep, or philisophical or anything, just powerful in the fact of how much negative emotion it conveys.
The first song, "Capture" gives you a good idea of what Khanate's music is all about - Alan Dubin's tortured shriek kicks off the song immediately and disorganized, broken "riffs" are thrown at you. Everything about it sounds like it is dripping from the ceiling of a killer's dimly pitch black basement, with only the screams and cries of the poor tortured souls there to keep you comfort. It teases you, creeps you out, spits on you and then basically throws you out in the cold once it's done. There is absolutely no mercy here.
The following, and last of the two tracks, is "Release", one of my favorite Khanate songs. It begins with three and a half minutes of ambient soundscapes, before everything explodes into a frenzy of jagged noise. The lyrics are some of the best, most disturbing ever penned by Dubin:
"Fail -Trying is not enough/I'll hold you way too long/It's cold when I touch you/A release/And everything you are is on the ground/Broken open and spilling/Leaves soak they drink/You are blood/That's all."
There is little to nothing going on through this 25 minute song, but at the same time, there is feeling, so much jaggedness, so much psychopathic power. This is the song especially where you really feel like you are the killer, standing above his helpless victim, bringing them closer to their end with each slash. When the song ends with an ambient "note", you feel as though you are finished, walking away from the victim's horribly mutilated corpse. It makes you question your own sanity, and makes you think "What the fuck is wrong with me?!" There is no band besides this one in which can make me think something like that.
While this isn't Khanate's best release (it is rare for an EP to top a full-length, after all) it is still a disturbing work of drone metal mastery. This is fucked up music made by and for fucked up people. If you like your metal more on the mainstream side and/or fast, then you probably won't like this. Among the handful of people who do like it, though, I am a devoted fan.