In a strange and revolting no-mans land, scarred by hundreds of battles between the House of Psychedelic Doom and the Lord Industrial, there sit Khost upon two thrones built from desolation, despair and fucked-uppery. According to label Cold Spring, Governance “continues Khost’s immersion in themes of detachment and dissonance”, and it’s difficult to contradict that statement. Much has been made of the band’s Birmingham roots, but comparisons to Napalm Death and Godflesh really don’t add that much to the understanding of these bizarre purveyors of hateful chaos.
Getting a grip on this album is not something you do in one sitting. The overarching structure is basically doom metal, with slightly stoner-like fuzzy guitars. Having said that, the production, tone and mood of the album subverts at least 95% of the expectations such a description would tend to inspire. While there is something in the atmosphere that could remind one of early Esoteric, this is noisier, less ordered, more erratic. Governance is experimental without being progressive in the strict sense – the atmosphere feels more like old Broken Flag tapes than any type of “metal”, despite guitars and drums and often growling vocals. While the album’s theme is manipulation and the “exertion of wills that are not your own [..] upon you, day by day”, there is no sense of youthful “consciousness” here. At least sound wise, tracks like “Depression”, “Low Oxygen Silo” and “Redacted Repressed Recalcitrant” evoke a sense of miserable disgust, with any political implications being incidental and in the end completely irrelevant. There’s noise, there are insane melodies, there is ruin.
Whatever you might be thinking, this is no massive slab of noisy monotony. Quite the opposite – different tracks utilize extremely different means on their journey towards mental collapse. “Stockholm Syndrome” begins with a sequence sounding like a mix of a 90’s black metal demo intro and Current 93, and finishes with a batshit crazy piece of screaming chaos retaining only the bare rhythmic minimum required to still be called music. “Subliminal Chloroform Violation” is a deconstructed piece of doom metal where most elements of the genre are still there, but something terrible has happened to them, and they are now probably unsuitable (or better suited than ever) for combination with mind altering substances. “Cloudbank Mausoleum” sounds like Stalin arrested Stoner Rock and sent it on a forced march through the Ukraine.
In a sane and less jaded world, this piece of industrialized, raped doom metal would probably struggle to find an audience. That is not the world we’ve got, though, and it is highly likely that many people will find this as impressive as yours truly finds it. It is available to the true avant-garde as well as the truly miserable, on a 6 panel digipak, from Cold Spring.