There’s likely not a healthier sub-genre of metal right now than doom. Yeah, we’re inundated with a shit ton of death and black metal bands, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those scenes are healthy through and through. Way too much waste. But doom is thriving, and the faucet is running heavily.
The latest in the line of unreal doom bands is Denver’s Khemmis, who in barely a year’s time have released two great records, the latest being their awesome second release “Hunted.” As many great new and long-standing doom bands have been crushing us with great music, Khemmis is beginning to rise to the top of that field, and this record should keep their momentum steamrolling. The band’s melodic side is strong and alive, expanding even further with some absolutely killer choruses on these five tracks. They also have pushed the boundaries of their song limits without losing any steam, as their move toward epic has proved to fit them expertly. For all the people who have fawned over Pallbearer the past few years, and we’re among them, it’s only fair if the same amount of attention is showered on these guys, because they exist on the same level.
The record has a heavy nautical theme to its, as water and battles with great bodies of liquid are splashed all over this thing. Fantasy and human struggle are very present, and the way they move you into these songs carries you through the 43-minute record with force. The band—vocalist/guitarist Phil, guitarist/vocalist Ben, bassist Dan, and drummer Zach—have come a huge way from their debut “Absolution,” itself a damn great record, and now this new powerhouse should charge up their reputation and keep putting their name on plenty more people’s tongues. The more I listen to this record, the more infectious it gets, and the melodies just won’t release my brain from their clutches. Not that I’m seeking that.
The record kicks off with “Above the Water,” where elegant melodies unfurl and the tempo begins to rumble. Strong, burly riffs unload, while the chorus is strong and effective, with a call of, “I won’t die, it isn’t my time,” striking with grit and determination. Twin leads join up, the soloing burns, and this harrowing trip at sea burns off into mist. “Candlelight” is murky with really strong singing and another killer chorus. As the song goes on, the bottom drops out and lurching growls surface for the first time. Soloing slips out of a haunting passage, as the song bursts to life again, and the vocals soar as the track slowly marches away. “Three Gates” gallops heavily, reminding a bit of High on Fire, and the vocals are a decimating growl over the verses. The chorus slips in and stuns, with the lamentation of, “Wash away my ashes in the sea,” swelling with emotion. Later, a half-growled, half-sung line, “The skies hold no salvation,” pierces the skin, while the track crushes with heavy waves before fading out.
“Beyond the Door” runs nine minutes and starts with sorrowful guitars and the revelation, “No light beyond the door,” before the track catches fire. Fantasy elements mix in with bouts of sadness, as the song plays with myriad heavy emotions. Later on, the soloing breathes fire, with growls and heartfelt singing joining up and fighting alongside one another, and the guitars leading the charge to the other side of the door. The 13:31 closing title cut trudges as it starts, laying into you with punches and making the bruising surface. “Every night, there is a dream I can’t contain,” Phil calls, as soloing bubbles up, and riffs out of the Thin Lizzy playbook blow through. The rhythms shuffle, while soloing flexes its muscles and the power absolutely erupts. As the track winds to its end, a cold, calm passage leads into the guitars trampling again, blazing passionately as sounds stretch out, the mind comes back to reality, and everything fades into the last remnants of your night’s dreams.
Khemmis are one of the best new young bands in metal, and “Hunted” is another solid building block and they crush their way through’s doom’s kingdoms. The songs are heavy and fun, melodic and destructive, and it’s going to be remembered as one of the best metal records of 2016. Their live reputation is stellar, and now they have two great albums to their name. There appears to be no boundaries for this band, and it’s going to be a blast to watch them crash through gates and bring their music to more and more people.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom
To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/music
For more on the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/