Released: 2016, 20 Buck Spin
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Listening to HUNTED, the sophomore album from Denver’s doom up and comers Khemmis, I was compelled to jot down some thoughts. In no particular order:
• Like Iron Maiden if they played doom metal
• Gloomy and epic, Solitude/Candlemass-ish
• This is really good
• Grooves like Trouble
• If BELIEVE IN NOTHING Nick Holmes recorded the vocals on SHADES OF GOD
• Death growls, didn’t see that coming
• How does this all work so well together?
Khemmis have cracked doom metal’s DaVinci code (doomvinci code?), managing to craft an album that successfully bridges the gap between the old school traditionalists and the more melodically inclined Goth kids. Pallbearer tread a similar path with FOUNDATIONS OF BURDEN, but HUNTED aims for a more epic presentation that invokes the spirit of Maiden and Priest along the way. Majestic riffs, twin guitar runs, vocals that soar and sulk, all wrapped in a package that’s both intentionally dramatic and deceptively memorable.
The opening build of “Above the Water” tugs at your emotions almost immediately before transforming itself across a volley of charging riffs and an unlikely sing-along chorus. “Candlelight” amps up the melancholy factor with layers of cascading vocal harmonies and conflicting arrangements, while the 13 minute closing title track goes full NWOBHM with a mid-tempo gallop and some pristine lead guitar work. None of this should be as sonically endearing as it is, but the band does an amazing job of pulling the listener into the adventure and holding your attention through the duration.
As the sophomore outing for a band that’s still in its relative infancy, HUNTED is the kind of masterful record that bands chase their entire careers to achieve. Last year’s ABSOLUTION debut showed that Khemmis had plenty of promise, but the creative strides they’ve made in such an abbreviated window is mind blowing. HUNTED is gut wrenchingly emotive, powerfully heavy, and absent of compromise; expect to hear a lot more about Khemmis in the metal press, they’re on the cusp of something big.