(Originally written for the great ProgArchives.)
Khanate are a drone doom metal band from New York City, my home state. It involves members from Sunn O))), OLD, Atomsmasher, etc. Wether favorable or not, listeners of this band have often hailed this as the most disturbing slab of music ever created. I was heavily skeptical of this rumor, thinking it was just going to be another stupid goregrind band who relied mainly on shock appeal. When I finally decided to listen to one of their tracks ("No Joy") on YouTube, Khanate took my skepticism and tossed that salad out of the window.
The rumors were correct. This music is "depraved" in every sense of the word. The Swans and Neurosis have got nothing on this album. I'm not even exaggerating here - it really is one of the most disturbing things in music I have ever seen (yes, it's so disturbing you can see it...or something).
The music of Khanate relies heavily on the guitar and bass. The guitars alternate from booming drone riffs that are literally so loud and heavy it can rattle the listener's skull, to ear- splitting guitar feedback which can sometimes last for minutes on end. The bass, besides the vocals and lyrics, is definetely the most disturbing thing here. It sounds absolutely frikkin' enormous. The bass riffs are deep, gritty, and as one reviewer over at the metal archives said, it sounds like a gigantic oak creaking open.
I mentioned that the vocals sounded even more terrifying than the bass. They are loud, mentally inhumane sounding shrieks which could quite literally smash all windows in a room if played loud enough. The lyrics on here are almost so pessimistic it makes you never wish to see the light of another day. Vocalist Alan Dubin howls oh-so-pleasent lines like "METAL TEETH RED...RED TEETH GNAW...LEG...AND...SAW" ("Pieces of Quiet") or "NOW...I'M UNDER ROTTING SKY" ("Under Rotting Sky").
The drumming is also stellar. Lots of people say it is mediocre and does nothing more than helping the music keep stable, but I like it for what it is. It is incredibly heavy and crushing, and quite scary, too - the drummer sometimes teases you with almost painfully simple beats when suddenly all the music stops, when suddenly the music fades back in raw heaviness.
"Pieces of Quiet" is not a welcoming opener, crushing the listeners ears with painful guitar feedback and white noise. A minute later, the riffing and vocals lumber in, and any chance of you having an easy listening are completely stomped into the dirt. "NO MORE WHIIIIIIIIINE!"
"Skincoat" doesn't let up. It's essentially a monolithic beast that relies heavily on feedback, with Alan screaming a love song (/sarcasm) to his most ear-piercing. Surprisingly, the song picks up the pace a bit, but then slows down again, with utterly creepy whispers and a tribal drumming outro.
"Torching Koroviev" is a short filler track with some suggestive sounds. Not really creepy, but unpleasent.
The band launches themselves back into audial abyss with the 18 minute gargantuan, "Under Rotting Sky". The first 5 minutes of this song plod around with an agonizingly slow riff and teasing drums in the background. Finally, at the 5:42 mark, the vocals come in, and the madness begins, with the vocals becoming even more desperate and evil than before. "No...stars...out..."
Whatever happiness you have left by the end of "Under Rotting Sky" is stripped away with the closing track, "No Joy". This song merely consists of one massive (I know I keep using words similar to that, but they fit so well!) bass riff echoing itself from the 3:53 mark which grows more and more disturbing the more it is layered upon, with Alan Dubin's vocals pouring out negative emotion. The riff continues on forever and ever, and finally it fades out, ending the album, and leaving the listener with chills down his/her spine and a rumbling stomach, as well as an incredibly depraved feeling of misery.
This album is a pure masterpiece. It may sound like I dislike it, repeatedly calling it "miserable" and "depraved" - but that is the entire point of it - to sound so utterly sick and disturbing that even Freddy Krueger or Koromo Amae would shake back in forth in a dark corner, weeping for their mommies. If you are into sick, non-easy listening and creepy music, then this is for you. This is the only album to make me feel really bad and there for deserves nothing less than a solid four stars. Listen...if you dare!