Thursday, September 15, 2016

Khemmis – Hunted




I had the distinct pleasure of seeing this band at the recent Migration Fest. Out of all the fantastic bands and performances over a three day period of time, their set was an absolute highlight of the weekend for me. The only thing that topped it was Panopticon doing their first ever live set, so there's no shame in finishing second this time around. I was really struck by how Khemmis put together an awesome set, and by their self-assurance on stage. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and they laid it on us. In their stage presence, they reminded me of seeing Mastodon back in the day. Mastodon's early music is hardly accessible, but just watching them on stage you knew they were going to be big. I had the same feeling watching Khemmis blow the roof off during their set. Keep an eye on these guys. This new album is fantastic and I think it will lift them to a whole new level.

“Hunted” comes out not much more than a year after their debut release which took the doom world by storm. They went from a band hardly known outside of their home area of Denver to a household name, at least in households that are cool and listen to doom. Do not mistake these guys for a straight up doom band though. There is a lot of traditional metal in what they do. If you are a fan of good ol' NWOBHM twin guitar harmonies, these guys will do the trick for you. They do clean vocals mostly but use the growly, grunty stuff to good effect at times. They play plenty of slow, doomy stuff, but they also have some passages and songs that put me in mind a little of Three Inches Of Blood. This band can gallop and rampage with the best when they want to.

The songs are longer on this one and the band uses those extended run times to show off some compositional chops, as well as some ripping guitar leads, and honestly some downright beautiful passages. There are moments in the epic title track, which closes out the album, that just give me chills. The clean vocals are amazing and singer Phil Pendergast has a nice range that perfectly fits what the band are doing. I've said this before, but music should move the listener, it should evoke emotions and memories and take the listener someplace they haven't been before. Khemmis does this in spades on this album.

“Beyond The Door” is my favorite track on the album. It moves seamlessly through different styles and it is a great song. Definitely grounded in doom, yet there are gorgeous acoustic moments, stretches that lean right up to the edge of black metal, and sublime melodies. The song manages to feel somber yet uplifting and I want to listen to it over and over. Just great stuff from a band that is just getting warmed up.

I listen to enough albums to know that gems like this one do not come along very often. Head over to the 20 Buck Spin website and put in a pre-order for this one in your format of choice. This one will find its way into many top ten lists for 2016 and I'm sure it may even hit the top spot in some. Whatever accolades are received are justly and rightly given. Get on this one friends.

-ODIN



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