KHEMMIS is a doomed heavy metal band from Denver, Colorado. Their debut, »Absolution«, was released by 20 Buck Spin in July 2015 and slowly but surely steamrolled all that came in contact with its unforgettable heaviness and classic melodicism. Virtually unknown outside of Denver upon release, the band gathered acclaim over the ensuing months and by the year‘s end had landed in the #9 spot on Decibel Magazine’s annual top 40 albums of the year, no small accomplishment for a band on its debut album.
Their 2nd album »Hunted« (2016) revealed a KHEMMIS fortified in its purpose and vision, forging an unrivalled synthesis between immense doom riffs and MAIDEN-esque harmony. Longer songs yielded more expansively arranged and dramatic storms of elegance and melancholy. And yet KHEMMIS are not content to plod through a sea of tears. They are always first and foremost a rock band, in service to the movement of the song, even approaching a HIGH ON FIRE like pace to open the pummelling ‘Three Gates‘. The lauded vocals of Phil Pendergast reaches ascending new heights on tracks like ‘Candlelight‘ and ‘Beyond The Door‘, while the tasteful use of harsh vocals remained, providing a dark foreboding contrast. The 13-minute title track closes the album with an epic stunner.
Undoubtedly »Hunted« is an album that solidified KHEMMIS’ place at the vanguard of doom’s most notable modern manifestations, in large part because they transcend the label itself. They had seamlessly blended their influences into an extraordinarily listenable album worthy of countless spins. With such a glut of music released today, »Hunted« stands apart, rewarding repeat listens with songs seared straight into the heart.
Now in 2018, after wrapping up the US Decibel Magazine Tour with ENSLAVED, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM and MYRKUR, the excitement for KHEMMIS’ third album »Desolation« is palpable across the metal spectrum. Fortunately, when you hail from a place known as the Mile High City lofty expectations come with the territory and the band has created what will come to be known as the definitive KHEMMIS classic.
From the stadium-sized opening notes of ‘Bloodletting’ it is immediately evident that KHEMMIS are again putting distance between themselves and their earlier influences to inform a sound that is singularly their own. ‘Isolation’, recently aired live on the Decibel Tour, is the album’s lead single and most immediate track, with the classic metal melodies the band have become revered for shining throughout. On epic closer ’From Ruin’ and throughout the entirety of the album, the lead vocals and melodies of Phil Pendergast are the clearest, most powerful and best arranged that the band has achieved. Working for the third time with Dave Otero at Flatline Audio in Denver, the band and producer now have the familiarity and mutual experience to arrive at the perfect symbiosis of songwriting, arrangement and production value.
While KHEMMIS are undeniably influenced by doom and classic metal, to tag them with those labels doesn’t do justice to what’s accomplished on »Desolation«, a perfect representation of modern heavy metal in 2018 that integrates the past in a way only possible in the present. »Desolation« is not just the best KHEMMIS record to date but a testament to the quality that heavy metal is still capable of.