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Wilytank, September 23rd, 2014
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Southern Lord Recordings

Khanate's second full length Things Viral sees the band delve into a more minimalistic approach than their debut effort. If you're expecting it to have the same sort of movement as "Pieces of Quiet" or "Skin Coat" from Khanate's self-titled, you're going to end up disappointed. What we do have is an album that does drag way more, but still manages to be worthwhile in the end.

Right off the bat, there's a 19 minute long piece to go through. The build up instrumentally is rather onerous and consists of soft strumming of the guitar and a semi-steady bass drum beat. That goes on for six and three quarters of a minute before the music seems to kick up the bass, louder guitar, and utilization of other components of the drum kit while later throwing in an extended section of nothing but feedback with some some wanton drum beats thrown in. The second song "Fields", also almost 20 minutes long, essentially does the same thing. And these two songs are the ones that take up the majority of the album. "Dead" and "Too Close Enough to Touch" show more signs of movement, but really still follow the same sort of drone styled doom that the first songs follow.

On the other hand, the instrumentation does create this dismal atmosphere. Listening to this album makes me feel really uncomfortable, especially because of the goddamn vocals. Alan Dubin is the star of the show here, and I'll say right now that if he wasn't present this album wouldn't be worth listening to at all. The deranged lyrics that go along with the music read like the ramblings of a crazy person which is further compounded by Dubin's tortured screams with the darkest point being the beginning of "Fields" with its echoing background screams and the first stanza of lyrics:

"this is for you
a new beginning
(I'm gonna) put you under
an open field
vast expanding
it's expanding
the center of reason/the center is reason
you don't have to think
no worries
i'll do this for you"

Dubin recites the above with this lower raspy spoken word tone complete with heavy breathing that makes him sound like he's going to bury a loved one alive. The rest of the lyrics follow that idea like he wants to resuscitate them so they can tell him about the afterlife, but they can't respond of course because they're dead and it sounds like he gets upset with the person, especially when he shouts "SAY SOMETHING!" followed by "I DID THIS FOR YOU...FOR US!" and ending the song with some frustrated screams.

"Dead" on the other hand is easily the most straightforward and most innocent sounding: a guy is left to die in a public place and nobody helps him; but Dubin really shines here as well combining whispering and screaming as he condemns the people who passed him by until he finally quietly mumbles " could've stopped it..." a couple of times at the end of the song.

There's some outside vocal effects used throughout the album that help drive the lyrics too. From the really extended use of it such as the aforementioned first stanza of "Fields" and several passages in the middle of "Too Close Enough to Touch" to the small parts like shouting of "RED GLORY!" on "Commuted" being echoed back even louder.

As a whole though, Things Viral is essentially an average drone album helped up by amazing vocal work. It's not the most essential listen of an already niche genre, but curious drone fans are encouraged to try this out. But be reminded again that this album is a bit of a chore to listen to even if you did like Khanate's debut album.