Khemmis- “Hunted”

Khemmis - Hunted

Colorado heavy metal act Khemmis has been fast on the rise over the last two years. Admittedly unknown to me prior to an impressive set at Migration Fest, the band has delivered a great deal in a very short span. Following up last year’s Absolution, the band will release Hunted on 20 Buck Spin tomorrow. In many circles, consecutive releases would seem rushed or ill formed, but Khemmis is a band that seems to have a whirlwind of creativity and passion for the riff at its core. Instead of issuing Absolution II or a handful of throwaways, Hunted shows a true progression of form while retaining a sense of direction. The album isn’t reinventing the wheel, but the band’s commitment to extreme music shines through.

Doom is an easy categorization to give something that stretches out so brilliantly, yet this is pure heavy metal at its core. With a mournful guitar tone that would make most funeral doom acts blush, it has that feeling, yet there’s so much more going on in Khemmis’ dark brew. From the Dungeons & Dragons-worthy album art to the confidently delivered vocal lines that would be equally at home on a power metal record, this is a tribute to everything that endears listeners to the genre. While the album is a victory in every sense, songs like “Candlelight” and “Three Gates” make it clear that the band’s energy isn’t exactly optimistic. It’s haunting and somber, with solos that feel like bleeding human emotion. The songs themselves often trudge at a pensive pace that allows every word to sink in. Still, the band knows when and how to speed things up, with the occasional gallop keeping things exciting. The composition on each song tends to flow around a theme, yet never feels redundant. It’s almost predictable, yet it’s such a clean and welcoming structure that it works every time, especially on the monstrous sprawl of the title track.

There’s something comforting in Hunted that seems to be missing from much of modern heavy metal. There are extreme metal bands that all carry the torch well enough within their niche, yet most modern metal fails to touch on any of the classic sound without falling into derivative territory. No names need to be named, but many bands either fall directly into power metal’s bombast or they churn out a less than refreshing imitation of past greats. We all love Manilla Road and Iron Maiden, but how many knockoffs do we need when both bands are still touring?  With feet planted in heavy music’s rich history and their eyes on its future, Khemmis creates something potent and passionate that will stand the test of time.

Catch Khemmis at one of these shows to witness this material in its natural habitat:
October 21st – Hi Dive, Denver (Record Release show)
October 23rd – Southwest Terror Fest
January 13th – Reggies Chicago IL
January 14th – St. Vitus, Brooklyn NY