Khanate Things Viral

Emanating reverberations that can only come from the bowels of a big-city subway system, Manhattan-based noise deconstructionists Khanate have undeniably raised their own ante. Unlike the ear-numbing cacophony of their eponymous 2001 debut, Things Viral is actually cleaner and less weighty, though it offers a new species of suffocating torture all its own. Bassist James Plotkin and guitarist Stephen O’Malley provide the viscous low-end that crawls like Sunn O))) and Earth, and drummer Tim Wyskida beats out rhythms so deliberately slow that they make Grief and Boris seem like speed metal. The spaces between notes stretch out to the horizon and singer Alan Dubin manages to exude more tormented ululations than he ever did with Old. In the 20 minutes of the sparse "Commuted,” the iciness of Dubin’s agony never stems the threatening flow of utter and immutable despair. His retracted voice effects in "Fields” give the feel of those B-movie horror scenes when the actors slog through the copses and thickets of an ancient, burned-out forest before the masked killer hacks them to death. "Dead” is the perfect candidate for the soundtrack of a sperm whale’s year-long digestive cycle, and the throbbing "Too Close Enough To Touch” has equal amounts of cranium-piercing feedback and Dubin’s best impersonation of a possessed Gollum. With the tundra-crossing doom of Things Viral, Khanate remain completely untouchable and eternal starvelings of melodic privation. (Southern Lord)