Khost - Corrosive ShroudKhost's Copper Lock Hell was a powerful debut where mammoth doom chords were pit against industrial electronics. Corrosive Shroud continues with Khost's customary slow, monolithic riffing; a half-paced grind pitched so low it just vibrates. But layered with that sound is bleak psychedelic textures, swirls of Japanese and mid-Eastern influences, ethereal chants all of which conjure up arcs of beautiful melodies. There is so much more to Khost than their room shaking hypnotic shudders but it just takes a little effort to hear them. 'Avici' continues the fascination with "avici hell", as recorded in the The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's Fundamental Vows, which began on Copper Lock Hell aided by the Gnostic electronics of fellow Midlands outfit Tunnels of ĀH, who feature former Head of David singer Stephen ĀH Burroughs. They're absent from Corrosive Shroud, but some other contributors such as Oxbow's frontman Eugene Robinson and cellist Jo Quail are carried over from Khost's debut, with fresh contributors including Syan, Daniel Buess, Gustave Savy and Chris Turner.
Guitars shudder amidst pummelling and crashing drums on the opening crawl that is 'Avici', combining a low grating voice with higher registered chants that carry an air of mystical otherworldliness. Those chants are woven, like a mysterious entity, throughout subsequent tracks such as 'Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves', 'A Shadow On The Wound' and 'Black Rope Hell'. 'Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves' unfolds to scorched earth guitar mangling, as background voices taken on a chant like shape, as violins weave amidst the clatter of crashing drums and cymbals. Bathed in feedback and frequencies it channels similar spirits to Skullflower in their most blackened death metal moments before the grind gives way to sombre cello movements. Khost's vocal delivery is steeped in an air of black metal; an impenetrable guttural rasp that that scrapes through the reverberating riffs of 'Black Rope Hell' - which almost sounds like another "avici hell" - before cavernous metallic clanking and ritualesque chants surround the monstrous roar and floor shredding tones of 'A Shadow On The Wound'. The oppressive onslaught of Khost belies a highly nuanced and layered sound that many can - and do - miss.
Khost are a Birmingham based duo featuring Andy Swan (Iroha, Final, Atrocity Exhibition) and Damian Bennett (Carthage, Deathless) and between them they have been part of Techno Animal, Final and 16/17. Khost almost seem to follow in the lineage of Kevin Martin's Pathological label. In fact, much of the drums and rhythm samples have been provided by Daniel Buess, the experimental musician and drummer behind avant jazz noiseniks 16/17 - and of course Oxbow who feature Eugene Robinson first surfaced via the Pathological release Fuck Fest. But, whatever, it's from 'Inversion', the fifth track on Corrosive Shroud, that Khost begin to seriously detour from their industrial doom sound with spacious detuned guitars seeking out the empty psychogeographic potential of vacant urban spaces and lightless structures. Sprawling guitar tendrils extend over pummelling low end bass recalling the loping rhythmic bass that underpinned the noise rock of Ice, Sweet Tooth etc, before it lurches to industrial atmospherics and the first appearance of Oxbow's Eugene Robinson with some brief spoken words. "Which way will the coin finally fall?" Syan asks posing a conundrum before the molten cyclical dirge textures of 'Forgery'. Oxbow's Eugene Robinson reappears at the tail end of 'Red Spot', an astounding piece of experimental clatter that passes from industrial free jazz via quaking guitar scrapes propelled by machine-like rhythm before slowing to bass laden industrial atmospherics featuring the spoken drawl of Eugene Robinson ruminating on Ballardian images of destroyed structures and empty living rooms. Khost really push the boundaries of their monolithic sound here, more than justifying their experimental metal tag here while the following track, 'Bystander', sees Khost at their most aggressive and forceful. From looped thudding beats it transforms into blistering waves of distorted guitar squall and shredded vocal howl, wrapped in mystical chanting, while from the "Conquer then run" 'looped phrase 'VMIH' launches into a series of words ending on the suffix "ate": capitulate, dominate, proliferate, emancipate, intoxicate, excruciate, repatriate, etc., over mechanised rhythms and stabbing bass pound like the onslaught of early Godflesh.
Just as Copper Lock Hell closed on a remix, Corrosive Shroud finishes on the 'Avici - Hostage Remix' which sees the Tel Aviv based drum and bass soundman Hostage exploring the mystical chants and chaotic rhythmic confusion found at the heart of the opening cut.
What with Skullflower, Tunnels of ĀH, Wicked King Wicker and now Khost, Cold Spring seem to be home to some of the most blackened psychedelic sounds, with their roots mired in the sound of the early industrial groups. On Corrosive Shroud, Khost drive their hypnotic monolithic grind further into multi-layered and noise drenched areas. They're certainly one of the most progressive experimental metal projects and if they must be regarded as doom metal I'd like to think of them as industrial doom. Who cares though, Khost are fantastic and Corrosive Shroud represents another astounding release from this uncompromising duo. Great stuff. For more information go to Cold Spring