You know how some music is heavy without actually being heavy? For example take a band like The Velvet Underground who weren't a heavy band musically, and yet there was always this inherently heavy 'vibe' present in their music. Well the latest album Kailash from drone merchants Queen Elephantine kind of falls into that kind of categorical description. Perhaps the ever present feeling of death permeating throughout this album has a lot to do with it because the title comes from the Himalayan Mountain on which the Destroyer lives in a constant state of mediation, in a deathless state.
Armed with this knowledge the listener can do their best to try to prepare themselves mentally for the harrowing seventy minute ride that awaits them. Unlike their last full length release Surya, Kailash was not only recorded with a totally different lineup (guitarist / vocalist Indrayudh "Indy" Shome and vocalist Rajikishen Narayanan are the only holdovers here), but the group also seemingly opted for a more minimalist approach this time, although the hypnotic and ritualistic feel that was so present on that album is very much in effect here as well.
It all begins with the absolutely hypnotic, droning, distorted guitars and chanting vocals featured on the fifteen minute plus epic "Search For The Deathless State". There's definitely no way back as no sooner does this song reach its conclusion before you're thrust headlong into the hazy eastern tinges of "The Gloaming", a song which features a heaping dose of buzzing sitar (or is that a tanpura?) , tablas for percussion and more chanting vocal weirdness. After a brief respite with an untitled instrumental the sonic curveballs keep coming with the atmospheric deathscapes and very abstract, layered vocals on "The Vulture & The Creed". While the track "Godblood" comes off as a bit of filler, it is bookended by two spectacular tracks "Priest" and Kailash's longest composition "Khora". Both of these tracks tread the same ground musically and yet there is someting mysterious about them which also set's them apart.
In the end Kailash might be a lot to swallow in one sitting, even though the band has once again done a great job of creating another epic work of trance inducing, eastern flavored doom, which may or may not even be the best way to describe their music. I have to be honest, unlike their last album Surya which hit me immediately, this one took awhile to grow on me even after repeated listens over time. That being said, Kailash is definitely a worthy follow up and is in many ways probably more of a well rounded effort overall than its predecessor. If the doomy, abstract sounds of bands like Sunn O))) and Earth are up your alley then you should definitely look into giving Queen Elephantine a shot.
1) Searching For The Deathless State
4) The Vulture And The Creed