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Painful - 98%

MutantClannfear, April 9th, 2011

Here you are, curious listener. You've finally given into the hype about Khanate's self-titled release, how it's supposedly the most disturbing, fucked-up "music" ever created. Like the five reviewers below me have already confirmed, the rumors are true - these are some of the most demoralizing, degrading, emotionally unstable sounds ever created. I'm sure listening to the pained moans in a mental asylum at midnight would be more comforting. You can try to go back, but as I keep finding, listening to more than 20 seconds of one song on this album leads to me wasting almost an hour listening to the entire composition. By the time the listener has heard the grating screeches and white noise at the beginning of "Pieces of Quiet", it refuses to retract its talons until you've sat through all 56 minutes of the closest thing to hell any human being will ever experience while alive. And during that time, your standards for music will have changed. I have literally come out of the end of "No Joy" shaking uncontrollably; it's that fucked up.

This album has taken the standards for drone doom that Earth and Sunn O))) set up years earlier, stolen the doom metal riffs and the slow speed, and thrown everything else out the goddamn window. Calming, deep hums for riffs? Try constant atonal screeches that grate at the ears. No vocals? Add in some screams that, upon first spinning Khanate's s/t, sound like whining emo swoons, but soon fall into place as the man being tortured by this horrible experience. Lyrics? Psychopathic themes that are indeed simple, but the atmosphere behind them is so powerful the basic words are enough to do the job.

As atonal and anti-musical this album gets at points, it still has points that are surprisingly melodic. The first few minutes of "Pieces of Quiet" repeatedly chant in a rather conventional way: "RED TEETH GNAW, LEG...AND...SAW". "Skin Coat" actually resembles a song throughout its entire composition. There are various other examples throughout the album, but they feel like mere rest spots - small islands of refuge to rest on before you continue your journey of swimming through boiling water.

The screams, as helpless and abjected as they are, have some sort of defensive quality to them, like a cornered animal. There's something in this guy that wants to fight this madness - he's just absent for the time being. For a more comprehensible comparison as to what he sounds like, imagine Trevor Strnad from The Black Dahlia Murder, less whiny and more sinister.

"Pieces of Quiet" starts the album off, and though it's probably the weakest track on here overall, it's still great, and even better, it sums up all the elements of Khanate's music, a feat which none of the other tracks perform adequately. Chanted, all-out screams behind atonal screeches and droning Black Sabbath riffs, a calmed-down spoken word passage, and to wrap things up an entirely calm but still unnerving outro. "Skin Coat" is probably the most comfortable song to listen to in general, as it has a more logical sense of musical progression than the other tracks, reaching a climax in its demented rage before calming down to a riff much faster than what is commonplace on this album, coupled with seemingly delighted ramblings from a Hannibal Lecter-esque character. Probably the highlight of the album, if only because I can listen to it without ruining my day.

"Torching Koroviev" is pretty much the filler track of this release: the only track that sinks below nine minutes in length, it features the guitarist creating generic feedback while the bassist masturbates and the vocalist pretends to be a retarded baby. Surprisingly, it's a lot more settling than the other songs on this release, as it resembles human behavior...something absent on the rest of this release. But the band quickly recovers from the filler as they move onto the longest piece on this album, the eighteen-minute "Under Rotting Sky". The song takes six minutes just to move from its first riff and kick in the vocals, and at that point the song becomes the most burdensome and claustrophobic track, as the heavy atmosphere starts pressing in on the listener. For the last five minutes, the song just becomes completely unnerving: whispers of "choked, want you choked" seem to torment the listener like a group of retributing Furies.

You're almost out of this hell of an album, but one of the most demoralizing tracks has been saved for last. "No Joy" casts aside the screeching atonality that populates this release in favor of a massive, slowly lumbering beast of a song that seems to try to literally crush the listener. The riffs are almost entirely acoustic, and this is probably when the album reaches its highest point of hopelessness. The riff around the four-minute mark sounds like a demented taunt toward the listener: "you're a worthless fuck and you know it; end this shit now". It continues with this defaming riff for the rest of your experience. The album's over at long last, but you've changed. Colors are no longer bright and warm, they are simply pitiful cover-ups of a terrible world. The sky is a terrible being and sunlight burns. It's essentially a bad acid trip for a couple hours.

To finish my point, let it be known that in the past, I have written a legitimate suicide note while listening to this album, so trust me when I say it can turn the brightest days black and hopeless. So emotionally, this album is terrible. The happier an album makes me, the higher its score. So theoretically, this album deserves a 0%, if not lower through some manipulation of the review score system. But it's all part of the experience - an intentional mindfuck of an album, designed to crush every goal and hope you ever had in your life. So in that respect, this album is a masterpiece. Listen to this sadistic masterpiece, and watch your life fall apart around you in the course of 56 minutes.

And wipe that grin off your face. It's less painful than having it ripped away once the album starts.