Most bands tend to boast of their harshness, but few manage to tame raw noise and mold it into something coherent. There are already plenty of noise projects and fringe industrial acts out there, but Khost stands alone as one of the few acts that truly exude that harshness while mastering it. Khost’s sound is difficult to pin down, coming across more as a hybrid of blackened doom acts like Denmark’s Nortt infused with the violent industrial upheaval of Author & Punisher; it is soaked in a palpable atmosphere that exploits everything from throat singing to saxophones. Khost’s power is undeniable, and when reinterpreted by fellow Birmingham, UK industrial pioneers Godflesh, it becomes entirely uncontainable.
Needles into the Ground does not consist of simple remixes; Justin Broadrick (multi-instrumentalist of Godflesh, Jesu, and several electronic projects) has entirely re-worked three original tracks from Khost’s second effort, Corrosive Shroud. The end-result is a set of songs that offer up a reinterpretation of pre-existing work filtered through Broadrick’s machinations, so radically changed as to feel and sound entirely like new material.
Such a departure from the original material means that prior familiarity with the original tracks are not required (however, Khost’s prior material is certainly not to be passed on), but certainly helps to contextualize just how much Broadrick changed things up, and all through the very particular lens of Godflesh’s signature sound. “Inversion”—originally a moody dirge of traditional UK-style industrial—has been given a frenetic energy reminiscent of Broadrick’s electronic/dub project JK Flesh rather than Godflesh; that is, until scraping guitar and bass give the feeling of a more panicked “Like Rats.” It’s truly evocative of Godflesh’s preeminent work Streetcleaner. Broadrick’s tinkering of Khost’s source material may have created something more Godflesh than Godflesh at times (especially Godflesh’s newer, more traditional material). This may seem blasphemous, but I am confident that the comparison holds up, particularly given that this collaboration conjures the same Swans-inspired industrial hellscape of Godflesh’s debut album, and to a lesser extent, their self-titled EP, simply on a smaller scale. This is further represented by “Shadow on the Wound”; heavily drenched atmospherics and droning electronics effortlessly work together to create one monolithic sound that is, again, entirely unrecognizable from the original version. It’s fascinating to see what Broadrick’s creativity is capable of with this material.
If there were any attempt at criticism to be had, it would be that “Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves” is simply too incoherent of a song to enjoy, but this revelation is entirely dependent upon your preferable brand of harsh noise and electronics. Objectively, it is still an excellent reconstruction, even without any discernible pattern. But that is ultimately where the collaboration lies: it is both a blessing and a curse that the complete work has enough of a structure to create identifiable pieces, but still not quite enough for those parts to be distinguishable. At times, it works best as an ambient effort, and at others, its very traditional and punishing industrial roots shine. Simply put, Needles into the Ground is an excellent industrial/noise piece that toes a fine line between varying extremes within the genre. Either way, it should definitely not be overlooked.
The compilation closes with one Khost original, “Deathsset,” that upon further listens began to sound more and more like a nod to the Godflesh sound of earlier years that likely played a huge influence in shaping Khost’s sound. It is never blatant, but there seems to be a mutual respect between the artists that transcends simple collaborative work and acknowledges the roles they both play in shaping each other’s music.
Much attention in this review has been given to how Justin Broadrick has manipulated the original source material to create something wholly unique, but every opportunity should be made to check out Khost’s original work. The two records they have created thus far are required listening for any industrial/doom fan and come highly recommended. Hopefully, a collaboration with such a large name within the scene will generate the recognition they so readily deserve. Regardless, this collaboration is not one to pass up.
02) Shadow on the Wound
03) Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves