Music Reviews


Chaos Is My Name

Hydra Head

This… is it. Chaos Is My Name just might be the last album I need. Khlyst might be the last band I have to love. This is beautiful. This is painful. This is terrifying. This is romantic. Chaos Is My Name. Khlyst is probably the only band that could make me stop weeping into my pillow over the untimely demise of Khanate. For now their bass player James Plotkin, a polymath and, let’s face it, fucking genius has undertaken a newer, more free-form exploration of extremity, ego and the dark places of the soul/night. “Chaos Is My Name.” Around 2005 Plotkin undertook a long distance musical collaboration with another musical fucking titan who sadly flies under the radar of popular culture, Runhild Gammelsaeter, her of Thorr’s Hammer, Sunn0))), many more. At first the tapes were just unfettered, joyous, vile improvisation. Plotkin then took a scalpel to the tapes and edited them down to the VIII precise numbered pieces that make up the finished product. “Chaos Is My Name.”

Heavy as fuck, but it surely ain’t metal, brother. It’s Swans deepest abysses, Abruptum’s desperate scratching on cave walls, Sunn0)))’s blackened spaces between the guitar strings, the moments when Einsturzende Neubauten held their breath, perfectly still, trying to decide what to smash next, Casper Brotzmann’s guitar violence, a coven of witches, The Exorcist, Coil’s exorcisms, NON’s exploration of the terminal self doubt in the triumph of the will, a masterclass in how even the smallest noise can be twisted into something monstrous.

“II” is ambient horror, built around what sounds like the ghost of Diamanda Galas haunting a disused airplane factory, before shifting and blurring into an almost nauseating ambient passage. “IV” is pure evil, a strangely restrained wall of guitar and percussive noise suddenly crashes down into a multi-tracked collage of Runhild’s growls and retches and shrieks, like the field recording of a possession, culminating in a pure scream. “V” is almost free-jazzlike in terms of the frenetic percussion and smoldering arcs of guitar feedback, before Runhild’s gasps and hoarse screams form an undead chanteuse counterpoint. Other tracks (“I” and “III”) are the soul of brevity, quicker bursts of guitar figures and improvised vocals in the spirit of Yamatsuka Eye and Jarboe giving the Necronomicon a go. Often Runnhilde’s vocals sound like they’re being beamed in from another plane or existence – it can’t be of this world – enveloping you like a burning red mist. Or in the longer, more atmospheric pieces, the tension and anxiety is palpable, every note is twisted, wrong and somewhat diseased to the touch.

“VI” has all that backmasking your mother tried to warn you about, or if Kenneth Anger had invented ambient music instead of Brian Eno, – so much tension, you’re waiting so intently for something to happen — and when it does, it’s that stomach-churning vertigo ambiance from “III.” Bastards. “VIII” starts with a hint of a guitar riff that first appeared in “I”, but then decays like the Nazis in Indiana Jones into a maelstrom of distorted harmonics, whipping wind, Runnhilde sounding like Lisa Gerrard trapped behind a wall of ice and cymbal pounding.

Your friends aren’t going to understand this; fuck, my friends aren’t going to understand this, but who needs ‘em anyway? If you’re at all a fan of sound, beauty and the opportunities to be found in the ugliest manifestations of musical freedom, friend, you’ve found your sirens. Now smash that fucking ship into the rocks and get it over with.

Hydra Head:

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