Khlyst, "Chaos Live"

cover imageFollowing the release of their (so far) only album Chaos Is My Name a couple of years ago, this trio consisting of Khanate’s James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida and Thorr’s Hammer’s Runhild Gammelsæter played exactly one gig and seemed to have left it at that. Luckily the show was recorded on a couple of cameras and has made its way onto this DVD. As great as the album was, the video presented here shows that the studio fails to capture the full intensity of the group’s performance.



At the time, there were favorable first hand reports from the gig (at a showcase for Hydra Head, Khlyst’s label) but when no news of further live shows or recordings was forthcoming, I began to lose faith in the project having a long lifespan. Therefore, the appearance of this DVD is most welcome. Granted the material here is not entirely new, it is all based on the music already featured on the album. However, the performance has far more guts to it (and the CD was already dripping in entrails) and like a lot of heavy music, it is only in a live situation that the full power of the music can be unleashed.

All the music comes from the Chaos Is My Name album but with many elaborations and variations, it is not a note for note rehash of their studio work. The material from that album has been left to simmer and reduce down into a tarry, black soup; Gammelsæter’s voice mutating over the course of the concert from the extreme metal growls she is known for to delicate vocalisations and screeching Diamanda Galás-like dirges. Plotkin and Wyskida play a stop/start routine that is a world away from the plodding doom of Khanate. Here they sound closer to the free rock of Fushitsusha but heavier (if such a thing can be imagined).

The DVD itself is a no frills affair, just a menu allowing you to play the movie with no extras (bar some new intro music on the menu screen). The video is black and white and mixed by Plotkin using video effects familiar to anyone who has seen the Khanate Dead/Live Aktion DVD; blurring and overlaying of images giving rise to disorientating viewing. The video effects smear the action on the screen, making this less of a standard live music recording and something a bit more engaging. It suits the music in a way that a static shot of the group playing would not.

Overall, this is one of the best music DVDs to pass through my letterbox in a long time precisely because it is not weighed down with unnecessary extras that would be watched once and ignored forever more. Instead the concert is allowed to stand alone as it does not need any padding despite its brevity (just around half an hour). Archive have given it their usual packaging job (i.e. very nice sleeve with imagery by Stephen Kasner and lots of loving detail like a laser-etched DVD) and made it into an album (with visuals) in its own right, superior to the group’s debut in many ways.