I feel like a fish out of water here. Not that I don’t find this release interesting, it’s just that I am having trouble figuring it out. I’m thinking this is going to be a doom band with heavy guitars sludging through some really slow tunes. Instead, I find that this CD is one long, low-end, deeply rumbling experiment in noise and feedback. That is, unless I just drifted off to sleep somewhere. The promo pictures show a guitarist, bassist, and drummer; the cover show someone on guitar, etc., but all I hear is 70 + minutes of manipulated sound. Now mind you, the manipulated sound is doubtless guitar and bass, but it all could have been done on keyboards. I think I’d have to be either bored or really strung out to sit down with my guitar and make this kind of stuff. On the other hand, Boris seem to take the approach to Ambient music from way out in left field. Instead of manipulating sounds with synthesizers and such, Boris uses a heavy, doom laden guitar and bass combo. Perhaps we could refer to it as Ambient Doom. I certainly imagine that listening to this in a dark room would be unnerving to say the least.
It sounds as if someone took a Tascam mini recording studio to Hell and recorded some of Bonn Scott’s agonized shrieking and howling. Or perhaps that tortured sound is the ghost of Janet Joplin eternally choking on her own vomit. Whatever the case may be, there is some severe suffering happening on this CD. Slow, painful, and agonizing sludge-filled doom is the order of the day with Khanate. And if the screams aren’t tortured enough, there is enough feedback and distortion on this album to bury you under the rubble of your decimated home. But then again, with such bands as Boris and Warhorse, would you expect anything else from a release on Southern Lord? As it is, Khanate sound something of a cross between the heavy, chunky riffs of doom of bands like Warhorse and the purple feedback haze of Boris, and perhaps some over the top hardcore vocals similar to Leechmilk. If the old saying, “one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain” is true, then perhaps here the saying should go like this: “one man’s pain is another man’s listening pleasure.” Khanate certainly lend credence to that reformulation.
This is my first exposure to Warhorse. I must say that I have come to appreciate the rave reviews I’ve read about them. In my opinion this album belongs to an elite—and very small—collection of slow grinding Doom Metal albums: Cathedral’s “Forest of Equilibrium”, for instance. Or Paramaecium’s “Exhumed of the Earth” to name another. It is rare to find an album this slow, this grinding, and this powerful. I never thought I’d hear another album that rises to this level. One thing that Warhorse do differently, though, is they use quiet, understated sections throughout this CD to introduce a song, or to separate sections of longer songs. Imagine Cathedral mixing “Serpent Eve” with “Caravan Beyond Redemption”. Unreal. You know, I’m tempted to write a longer review, but I’d only be saying the same things over and over. If slow, grinding Doom is your thing (old Cathedral, Morgion, November’s Doom, etc.), you’d be crazy not to buy this one. If this isn’t the breakthrough album for this band there is no justice in this world!
CRITICALTOM: Would you mind giving me a brief bio on WarHorse? ( About all I know is that you have three albums, I think)
TODD: Brief huh? Well WarHorse began in 1996 with the original line-up of Mike Hubbard (Drums), Jerry Orne (Bass), and Krista Van Guilder (Guitar/Vocals). There was a second guitarist too, but he left early on and the band remains a three-piece to this day. This line-up recorded the first “Self-Titled” record in 1998. Shortly after it was released, Krista left the band because of obligations to work and school. The band then picked up Guitarist/Vocalist Matt Smith. It was with him that the band recorded the “Lysergic Communion” 7” and “The Priestess” 12”, both in 1999. Lysergic Communion was released right away, but The Priestess was delayed. Matt ended leaving the band after the Lysergic release for personal reasons. In late 1999 I joined as guitarist and Jerry took over as vocalist. We quickly gelled and have been jamming ever since. This is the final and most intense version of WarHorse. In 2000 we released The Priestess 12” and now in 2001 we have released our sickest release to date - “As Heaven Turns to Ash”
CRITICALTOM: Where does WarHorse fit into the ever widening Doom Metal Tradition? (Cathedral or Candlemass? Sabbath or Trouble? Stoner, Etc.) Personally, I think there is a lot of early Cathedral influence here.
TODD: Man, all the bands you listed are big influences of ours. As well as many others. We use everything we’re into to influence our song writing, so it’s hard to really place our style in with a category. We fit in with just about any heavy style of music. We’ve played with bands like “Nebula”, “High on Fire”, “Scissorfight” and “Cryptopsy”; you know, all different styles. I think that’s a cool thing. Musically we definitely have a “Cathedral” style as well as a “Pink Floyd” vibe at times, so we try to mix it up.
CRITICALTOM: How do you guys arrive at a song? What’s the process?
TODD: It’s different every time. Sometimes I write a whole song, other times I have a riff that I bring to rehearsal. Mike plays guitar, so he writes riffs all the time. Jerry writes stuff. It’s all pretty spontaneous. We jam a lot and come up with cool shit. There really is no set method to our madness. We just get stoned and jam.
CRITICALTOM: Are you guys really Nihilists, or do lines like “Our blackened hearts and brittle bones rise soulless from the deep” just sound cool?
TODD: Yes we are Nihilists. That line is actually from a sentence in some lyrics I was writing, “As Heaven turns to ash… and the angels begin to weep… our blackened hearts and brittle bones rise soulless from the deep.” We ended up breaking it up into a theme for the record. We used the first part for the title of the record. The second part is the final track on the record. And, the last part is on the back cover of the CD booklet.
CRITICALTOM: Are there issues you guys feel strongly about outside of Metal?
TODD: We are all just really chilled out and just basically live. You know I don’t think any of us are really political or anything. We all have strong beliefs and disbeliefs, but we all pretty much just jam and live that rock and roll life style.
CRITICALTOM: What would you like to say to those who’ve never heard you before?
TODD: I’d say buy the record you’ll love it. It’s the heaviest shit you’ve ever heard man. You’ll really dig it, Trust me!!!
CRITICALTOM: If you could tour with any band, who would it be?
TODD: You mean besides “Electric Wizard”? Shit, I don’t know. I know who I’d liked to have played with though. “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” man, there’s no shit like that out there today. Nothing. If I was ever to go back in time, it would be 1968 for sure. Hendrix, Joplin, The Stones in there prime . . . But today, “EyeHateGod” or “Clearlight”, they’d be cool to tour with or “High on Fire”. I don’t know there’s so many.
CRITICALTOM: I know you are going on tour in March, what else does the future hold?
TODD: Shit, we’re expecting to have so many riffs written after this tour--I mean sound checks and shit. That’s a good time to just jam out and come up with good spontaneous stuff. So I expect to write a lot of songs when we return from the tour. Then we’ll record another record for “Southern Lord” in a year or so. So, our future is actually pre-meditated at this point. But, we’re looking forward to everything.
Return to Home Page
Return to New Reviews