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Stark and uncompromising Khanate album - 72%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 27th, 2012

At first I disliked Alan Dubin's high-pitched vocals for this recording, believing them unsuited for the deep doom metal style but after several spins of the CD I've come round to the view that Dubin's voice complements the sparse and stark arrangements well. Given that the music makes no allowance for riff patterns and melodies, a lead or rhythm guitar isn't needed so Dubin's singing provides the treble counterpoint for the instruments.

Guitars, drums and bass combine with synths to emphasise the lyrics and push the tracks along. Khanate use the space as a backdrop in the music to produce a sense of dread and unease. The guitar contributes ambient effects as well as whatever passes for melody. The expressionistic lyrics which admit no possibility of progress or relief and the very stark nature of the music - nearly everything you hear is upfront - make for an intense listening experience. You're likely to feel drained, even assaulted (if that's the appropriate term) by the music; each track is a psychological study of a severely disturbed person. The last track in particular, "Too Close Enough to Touch" has just enough word and phrase associations, as indicated by the track title and at the same time repeatd and fragmented lyrics, to suggest paranoid schizophrenia or something close. The tracks are not very distinct from one another due to Khanate's musical approach and narrow choice of subject matter. This will annoy those who prefer their songs to be internally consistent and distinct from one another though I find the while album consistent in its concept.

For a recording like this, you need to consider the whole rather than its parts and to have an open mind to the music and lyrics. I'd prefer Khanate to lay on the psychological torment more thickly than they have done here by having more screams and the odd growl or gurgle from Dubin, perhaps with more reverb effects, and making his vocals ebb and flow into the space behind the music. Some distortion of Dubin's vocals or of the guitar tones might have helped to make the music more painful and oppressive.

An original version of this review appeared in The Sound Projector (Issue 13, 2005) which is now out of print.