Khanate CD/LP reviewed by Bruce Adams
Jul 29, 2009, 15:22
KHANATE Clean Hands Go Foul CD/ LP
The temptation to describe Khanate music with references to weight, density and severity is hard to resist. However, after listening to these final recordings from the quartet of Dubin, O'Malley, Plotkin and Wyskida what jumps out to me is how the band plays the gaps. Dubin's vocals rasp and dominate at the start of “Wings From Spine” and a very tight, clear almost bluesy guitar line follows from O'Malley, a wiry and contained tone that is unexpected and concise. Track by track the instrumentals are all strategically placed in what we now know is the culmination of Khanate's history as a band.
Anyone who saw the band live or is familiar with the first two albums knows how Khanate created tension, played with the notion of release and generally kept the audience suspended and waiting for the next swing of the truncheon. All those skill are applied on Clean Handsâ€¦ with room at the center for Alan Dubin's pronounced and dominant vocals placed in the center of the soundfield. The spaces between the instruments and vocals are where I find the band's skills at work and I find myself thinking more of bebop than doom metal or whatever as I listen.
The album contains tracks originally recorded in Feb. 2005 during the sessions for Capture and Release and the unfinished, spontaneous feel of things very much makes Clean Handsâ€¦ a unique addition to the band's recorded output. The longest track, “Every God Damn Thing” opens gradually in the tentative manner of a band taking careful steps. For all of the crushing volume and harsh vocals there is a measured approach in the album that really gets me. Listening to Clean Handsâ€¦. is listening to an accomplished band making music together in real time, listening and reacting to each other and using restraint to its best advantage.
The phraseology associated with extreme metal (volume, violence, impact, etc.) is insufficient to the descriptive task presented here. I'm more drawn to my mental picture of the phrasing of Miles Davis' modal phase or the piano playing of Paul Bley as I try and explain Clean Hands Go Foul. That's just me, though. This is the capstone to one band's unforgettable run. [Hydra Head]