The Birmingham, UK industrial sludge duo, Khost, has garnered attention over the last year with the release of their debut album, Copper Lock Hell, and their subsequent recording, Corrosive Shroud, with the latter landing on some best-of lists during that time. I was unfamiliar with the band, so I decided to give both albums a listen for the sale of context. How I wish I could get those minutes back.
Khost consists of founder Andy Swan, a former collaborator of Justin Broadrick‘s (Godflesh), and musical accomplice Damian Bennett, who is also not a newcomer to industrial music. The pair is forging a new path for the uninitiated by performing with their monstrous Godflesh pals as well as playing smaller gigs at industrial or experimental music festivals.
On both recordings, Khost assaults the senses. Specifically on Copper Lock Hell, the pair maintain an unrelenting and, at times, pulverizing rhythm that is an iconic staple of the genre. Some might say their plodding, behemoth sound is indicative of their heavy Birmingham origins. However, I found their technique maddening if not monotonous. Songs such as “Hypocrisy Banality Possession” use interesting recorded samples, ethnic-sounding vocalizations, and churning instrumentation that made me think the listener was about to embark on a fascinating journey, but inevitably, Khost’s pile-driving approach would arrive to completely submerge all melody and hope of musical enjoyment. The rhythmic structure to the tracks on Copper Lock Hell is just so predictable that I simply tuned it out. Imagine you are listening to the start of an improvisational jazz piece or some meditative world music, but then the fellow next door decides to play along with a jackhammer on his bathroom tiles. That’s an idea of what we are dealing with here. It doesn’t ring of experimentalism as much as it does overkill.
I wanted to find the music to be terrifying, and a few times, such as in one of the most enjoyable songs, “14 Daggers,” Khost started to lure me to the precipice. Unfortunately, they become too preoccupied with their sledgehammers and anvils to actually succeed at pushing me over the edge. Khost seems unable to draw upon the rich pedigree of their own history in order to come up with new ways to introduce the kind of head-crushing heaviness they’d like you believe they are capable of. I gave Copper Lock Hell a solid chance. I listened to it and its companion recording, Corrosive Shroud, several excruciating times. I really searched for what seemed to be resonating with other listeners in other reviews I have read. Sadly, I couldn’t find it. Copper Lock Hell left me feeling like I was suffering through an infernal torture that I really didn’t deserve, and while in some context that may be a welcome development for an industrial artist, it just doesn’t apply in such a way here.
01) Copper Lock Hell
02) 14 Daggers
03) Hypocrisy Banality Possession
04) Amoral Apathy Suppression
05) In the Nest of the Red Throat
08) 14 Daggers (Kevin Laska Remix)