By Calen Henry. Khemmis’ last record Absolution made waves in the metal press but didn’t quite hit the mark for me. At its core it was excellent Pallbearer-ey melodic doom, but it was mixed with out of place deathcore vocals and the result didn’t quite work. With their second full length, Hunted, Khemmis hits the bulls eye.By Calen Henry.
|Cover art by Sam Turner|
Khemmis’ last record Absolution made waves in the metal press but didn’t quite hit the mark for me. At its core it was excellent Pallbearer-ey melodic doom, but it was mixed with out of place deathcore vocals and the result didn’t quite work.
With their second full length, Hunted, Khemmis hits the bulls eye. It's is again rooted in mournful, melodic, twin guitar driven doom with some of the best clean vocals in the genre, but they also bring in myriad other doom styles in a kind of “kitchen sink doom” approach (they call it Doomed Rock and Roll, which also works). The result is the phenomenal record at which Absolution hinted they were capable of making.
Two things really make the album work, the style jumping and composition.
All the various doom styles are expertly executed. The vocals run through clean harmonized sections, tunnel shrieking, well bellowing, and some Matt Pike style stoner doom shout-singing. The vocal styles are supported by matching riffs and guitar tomes, lightly distorted soaring harmonic riffs morph into filthy fuzzed out plodding funeral riffs and back.
It’s held together by fantastic composition. The songs ebb and flow organically between styles even intertwining different styles. "Candlelight", for example, starts with an extended classic doom section before a drop into plodding sludge-doom, complete with a vocal shift to well bellowing. After establishing the new motif harmonized leads are brought in over the sludgy riffs. It’s fantastic.
To top it all off, the solos are amazing. In contrast to the mostly slow pace of the rhythm section the solos feature all kinds of flashy fret work, again, surprisingly well integrated with the record’s overall sound.
There is a caveat to the record, and depending on your proclivities, it’s a big one. The album is loud all the way through with many of the more intricate and busy sections having audible clipping. Because Khemmis use so much distortion a lot of the clipping is somewhat disguised but it detracts from what is a home run, musically.
Undoubtedly a high water mark in modern doom somewhat, but not irreparably marred by poor mastering.