Sunday 25 September 2016

KHEMMIS ~ HUNTED ..... review

Denver's Khemmis caused many an ear to be pricked with their 2015 full length debut "Absolution", a stunning hybrid of two doom sub-genres that utilised clean and guttural vocals over a mix of thick sludge and traditional doom riffage. It's now been just over a year since "Absolution" and Khemmis are ready to release their much anticipated follow up "Hunted", due for release October 21st 2016  on 20 Buck Spin.

"Hunted" does not stray too far from the blueprint the band drew up with "Absolution", the massive down tuned and distorted riffage remains in place as does the variations in vocal styles, what has changed however is the enormity of the bands sonic attack, everything on "Hunted" sounds so much larger with a bigger focus on arrangement and musical content. First track "Above The Water" encapsulates perfectly this new found maturity, its epic/traditional doom core, punctuated with moments of thunderous sludge furiosity, is then garnished with progressive metal complexity, a theme repeated throughout the albums five tracks. Front man Phil Pendergast's vocals soar above these sonic onslaughts, his powerful gothic tinted tones recalling doom's early days when this form of vocalisation was the norm within the genre rather than the exception. Around Pendergast's impressive vocal outpourings the band jam grooves of atmospheric heavy metal replete with Judas Priest/Iron Maiden-esque twin guitar harmonies that are bolstered from beneath by gigantic drum and bass rhythmic patterns. Where Khemmis differ from the aforementioned bands is in the element of sludge like intensity and attack they bring to the table, guitarist /vocalist Ben Hutcherson's guttural and harsh bellowed vocals are a complete contrast to Pendergast's clean tones yet when the two trade off verses against a rich backdrop of prog-ish metal as on "Candlelight" and  Three Gates", it just seems to work.  "Beyond The Door"  sees Khemmis hitting a more straight forward traditional doom groove and sees the band adding an element of Thin Lizzy-like colouring to their sound with the twin guitar harmonies taking on a element of  Celtic flavouring in places. Khemmis are not a straight forward traditional doom band however and as the song approaches its finale the mood changes and the band segue into a sludge heavy metal groove with Hutcherson's throat shredding bellow tearing through the air like a thunderbolt. The album closes its account with the epic title track "Hunted" a massive thirteen minute plus journey of ever shifting musical moods and dynamics that although abandons the harsher vocal elements of the previous tracks compensates for this by ramping up the levels of atmosphere and intensity of their traditional doom core, diverse and delightfully dark it closes the album on an incredible high.
If ,like Desert Psychlist, you loved the diverse mix of doom styles Khemmis brought to the altar with"Absolution" and you were slavishly drooling for more of the same then "Hunted" will not disappoint, its everything "Absolution" was but much, much more
Check it out ......

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