There's doom metal -- the slack, bluesy subgenre that revels in Black Sabbath's shadow -- and then there's fucking Khanate. While technically a doom band -- they're on the L.A.-based doom label Southern Lord, they tour with flagrant Sabbath-worshipers, and they call their own music "infernal black doom" -- this N.Y.C. quartet is millennia removed from Ozzy's old digs.
Given Khanate's lineup, it's easy to see why: There's bassist James Plotkin, of the post-metal atomizers O.L.D. and Phantomsmasher, drummer Tim Wyskida, of the dubbed-out art-metal crew Blind Idiot God, the inimitable O.L.D. vocalist Alan Dubin, and guitarist Stephen O'Malley, of the atmospheric dirge gods Sunn 0))) and doom extremists Burning Witch.
And while Burning Witch -- plodding, dark, and emotionally ragged -- is the closest reference point available for Khanate's take on doom, frankly, it sounds like Kelis next to these dudes. Khanate's eponymous 2001 debut was doom on the dissecting table, with riffs (a subjective term here) stretched to the fraying point and rhythms (ditto) laid bare. But that album also held a frightening, gibbering, psychologically naked human element in Dubin, a master shrieker who reaches his own apex of art-as-primal-scream-therapy on this year's Things Viral. And that's just in a studio. Live, Khanate is the closest thing rock music has to a black hole: When they take over a room, no light can escape.