†††The debut full-length from this new duo features a couple of vets from the UK industrial rock underground, Andy Swan (a frequent collaborator of Godflesh's Justin Broadrick, having previously worked together in Smear Campaign, Final, and Atrocity Exhibition, as well as a member of ambient rock outfit Iroha) and Damian Bennett, a former member of industrial punk-jazz destructo unit 16-17 and the cult avant-industrial doom outfit Deathless. Their collected CV would've been enough to tantalize me, but I wasn't even aware of who was behind this project the first time I heard it; it was the sheer heaviosity of Khost's sound that sucked me in and flattened me utterly when I first gave Copper Lock Hell a spin.
††† Khost's sound comes from the heaviest end of the UK post-industrial sound, forging creepy, oppressive noisescapes from looped distortion and rumbling rhythmic industrial churn, but they also incorporate some fantastic atmospheric qualities like raga-like drones and Indian flute melodies and the mournful groan of guest cellist Jo Quail, her tortured strings adding a funereal vibe to the ultra-pulverizing dronedoom that lurches out of the depths of tracks like "14 Daggers". These guys are ridiculously heavy, but also have an interesting, imaginative variation on this sort of extreme heaviness, taking the monstrous abject doom of bands like Moss or early Corrupted and twisting it into something stranger and more psychedelic by layering strange ululating cries and chant-like singing over it, transforming that evil glacial crush into something ritualistic and ecstatic, blending in aspects of what sounds like traditional Asian music into the downtuned dronecrush. Massive mega-distorted riffs lumber in slow motion over blasting, reverberant drums that seem to have been slowed down even further in post-production, turning them into a slurred, skull-rattling blast of percussive power, while those flutes and strings bring a uniquely trippy vibe to Khost's psychedelic industrial doom. Grainy samples are looped into a hallucinatory sonic haze, forming murky drones that swirl throughout the album's black delirium; thick layers of crackling static and corrosive fuzz saturate the recording, often choking out the squalls of screaming noise and grinding low-end churn. Ghostly female singing appears over the blown-out lurch of "In The Nest Of The Red Throat", joined by more spectral psychedelia contributed by fellow Cold Spring artist Tunnels of Ah. It's moments like that lend a dark dreamlike beauty to Copper Lock Hell that contrast deeply with the band's corrosive heaviness. The album also breaks down into long stretches of abstract creepiness, from the tribal rhythms that clank beneath a spoken word piece from Oxbow's Eugene Robinson that appears on "Drain", to the stretches of grim ambience that open up out of the band's suffocating sludge, to the nightmarish sound-collage that starts off "Pacify". And the last track is a remix of "14 Daggers" from Novatron / Transitional's Kevin Laska, which turns into something even more majestic and melancholy, stretched out into a vast, mournful blast of tectonic heaviness strafed with droning feedback and more of that haunting cello.