Album review: KILLER KHAN – Kill Devil Hills

KILLER KHAN - Kill Devil Hills

My writing has given me so much satisfaction in my life.  Not necessarily the writing itself, but certainly most of the events leading up to it, and some aspects that have remained with me forever. I have seen some amazing bands, heard some incredible music, and made some wonderful friends in my 43 years; made memories I will never forget, and forged relationships that have meant more to me through my love of music than most people will realize. Living in North Carolina especially, for the better part of my life, has shown me that just because big areas like New York and California churn out the bulk of great entertainment available to us, doesn’t mean they are the be all and end all.

I have had the privilege of getting to know some amazing musicians on the local level and hear the music they have created that at times far surpasses the bigger named acts. Seriously, for every one band touring the world and making millions, I can name 5-10 toiling away in small clubs that are far better players that haven’t managed to catch on.

I’m sure I have said something to this effect before, but it bears repeating: this is why I do what I do, on the off chance that someone will read my reviews and go and check out the bands I (and my peers) talk about. To me this isn’t some job I do, it’s a passion I love turning folks on to new music.

Killer Khan is a band that has been around since the 90’s, and made somewhat of an impact in some areas, but for the most part remained an underground attraction. Heaven and Hell Records have re-released the last album they recorded 1999’s Kill Devil Hills, which has been remastered with some bonus tracks and new artwork.

When I first gave this album a spin I was immediately taken by the music. Knowing nothing at all about them I was intrigued by what I was hearing. The only issue I had initially was the voice. Killian Khan has a truly unique singing ability, verging on an almost Muppet quality, however I found that the more I listened to it the more I was enchanted by it.  It’s this haunting, plaintive tonal quality that gives the music a very bizarre and eerie feel to it.

With the songs, the true standout for the band, you have this great music that is full-on classic metal (despite being recorded in the 90’s, it has a fresh sound for the era while also culling influences from the 80’s.)

Songs like “Dr. Strangelove,” “Evilution,” “Abomination,” and the fantastic opener “Computer Icon” really shape into this excellent attempt at doing something different with an already tried style. The excellent guitar work from Ron Dalton, the bass prowess of Brice Sandhal, and the incredible drum abilities of Jody Rumple mesh so well, then adding the voice of Khan it takes traditional metal and gives it this creepy, almost Pentagram doomy sound.

This album will not be for everyone as the voice requires some adjustment thanks in part to its strange quality, but if you can work around that you will be treated to a very great album of almost lost heavy metal gems.

I love getting these “oddball” obscure albums. Sometimes they’re not so great and you see why they never got anywhere, but every once in a while you get one that truly is a magnificent find.  I’m going to have to scour the Heaven and Hell site to see what else they might have to offer. Killer Khan’s Kill Devil Hills is a good album that finally deserves some recognition.  ***

Review by Chris Martin

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