Khemmis haven’t been around long at all, but in the time since they made their debut, Absolution (2015), the Denver quartet has been out kicking ass and taking names. In 2016 they released their sophomore album, Hunted, which received critical acclaim and support from a growing community of fans. Mastering an artistic style of doom metal that does not waver too far from the simple formulas of groovy, down-tuned Sabbath worship, and enchanting thousands across the world with live performances, Khemmis went from a junior varsity doom metal band to an elite underground act overnight. With Desolation, the promising future of Khemmis only looks brighter.
The success of Khemmis has just as much to do with their talent as it does their ability to tap into the zeitgeist of today’s metal scene. Not a product of subcultural banalities and stubborn axioms, the current running through the modern underground is favorable to an amalgam of 70s rock, post-metal infused iconoclasts, melancholic melodies competing with death metal machismo, and grooves mounted over psychedelic riff rock ecstasy. If Khemmis had been a band twenty years ago, they may have been cast aside as an oddity, but in today’s cultural climate they speak for a majority of people who want to hear a little bit of everything with something different on the side.
“Bloodletting” asserts that the old adage ‘a little something for everyone’ isn’t a trivial way to forecast expectations for Khemmis. Effortlessly transitioning through exquisite speed metal compositions into dirges of doom, Khemmis contain a storm of contradictions. Galloping from highs to lows, Khemmis are a proverbial roller coaster of tempo changes and an assortment of moods.
Paramount to the growth of Khemmis has been the dynamic of Ben Hutcherson and Phil Pendergast as co-frontmen. Pendergast’s range has grown considerably, and Khemmis are able to create contrasting vocals that blend together better than ever on Desolation. Pendergast isn’t the only one who has upgraded his vocal potential; Hutcherson has also discovered newfound creative flexibility. “Maw of Time” is one of the strongest tracks on the album, and it showcases an abundance of this newfound versatility.
At the end of the day, Desolation offers a little something for everyone. The crisp production of their third release combined with the developments they’ve taken artistically results in not just a new album, but a new stage for the band aesthetically. As a result of their growth, not all fans are going to agree that these changes are beneficial, but I think that the progressions taken on Desolation were done tastefully.