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Khlyst – Chaos Is My Name

IV
V

Hydra Head
2006

Any musical New Year’s resolutions? Diversify your tastes? Get more into ___ genre? Finally listen to that Joy Division box set all the way through? Me, I resolve, except for Shadows Fall, not to cover any more metalcore bands with Swedish riffs and good cop/bad cop vocals. That’s going to be tough. Those bands breed like rats.

In the spirit of renewal, I’ma talk about Khlyst, James Plotkin’s project after Khanate. Few bands have caused me as much spell-checking grief. There’s the name itself, which the band’s own label has misspelled. Then there’s the singer, Runhild Gammelsæter. She and Plotkin make up Khlyst, and they’re an acquired taste. Expect shrieks, howls, and guttural vocals over wrenching, tortured guitar and occasional hits of drums – sort of like Khanate. However, Plotkin handles all the instruments (guitars, drums, gong), and the project feels less like a band and more like a studio experiment in dark ambience. The vocals often go through panned delays, which help smooth out their Diamanda Galas-ness.

Chaos Is My Name won “Comedy Album of the Year” from Decibel, which I think is a bit unfair. Granted, the dramatic vocals and the super-serious vibe just scream “artsy.” But it’s tough to make atonal, beatless music interesting over time, and Plotkin does an admirable job keeping things moving. I can’t think of a non-drug-related context that’s ideal for this album, yet each (sober) time I’ve listened to it, I’ve made it all the way through. Quite simply, it’s interesting.

Topping off the package is beautiful artwork by Stephen Kasner in a gatefold digipak. The artwork by itself would no doubt fetch a good sum, but, ironically, when you slap a CD on it, it’s affordable. Worst makeout music ever – pick it up at Hydra Head or The End.

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