Review: Khemmis – Desolation

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I don’t want to write paragraphs. You don’t want to read paragraphs. Let’s get right to details so you know what to expect from Khemmis’ third album in four years.

  • Urgent is the keyword I would use to define this album. Desolation does not breath; it’s 41 minutes of wall-to-wall ideas. This might be counterintuitive for a doom album, but also none of the ideas don’t work.
  • The linear songs create a foundation for the unexpected, and they don’t use this opportunity to be boring. I wish I could always be listening to these songs for the first time with no idea what’s coming next. Of course, the downside to this is that the songs may not be initially memorable, but if you need repetition, there are other genres out there for you.
  • They were nice enough to create an accessible track in “Isolation”, which is the perfect song to show a non-metal listener and say “this is why Khemmis is killing the game right now”.
  • While I always liked Ben’s growls, they never seemed to match exactly the tone of the previous albums. This time around, he switched to a slimier, nastier technique that fits beautifully.  
  • It’s less careful, anxious, and dark than Hunted, proving that while largely keeping the same sound, the band can find range in tone and emotion.

  • While it doesn’t lean on any obvious influences, they seem to reference themselves often, in that they use a lot of the same techniques for bridging into solos or dropping into a doom riff. It almost seems like cheating, but these little watermarks make them identifiable.
  • Phil’s vocal hooks are outrageous. He strays just a bit from where you’d expect the riff to lead him, and it really adds something special to every song.
  • “The Maw of Time” tries something new on its savage opening riff. It lets the bass and drums take the lead for a moment, really giving the track some energy.
  • The tracks feel less compelled to drop momentum and lure you down a doom-hole in order to pull the cathartic ripcord. I thought that was something integral to my enjoyment of the band, but it turns out they can evoke the same thrills without building up as much.

Using a heavy-metal energy to oppose the typical slog of doom makes Desolation stand out in both Khemmis’ catalog and doom in general. While bands are investigating the depths of what is possible with doom metal and making some amazing and challenging records, Khemmis have offered a reprieve in the simple but elegant.

In retrospect, I’m happy I gave Hunted a 4.5 because there apparently was still so much room to grow and improve. It’s really hard to be objective when talking about one of your favorite bands, but I just can’t find anything on Desolation that did not meet or exceed my expectations.

5 out ov 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Desolation is out June 22 on 20 Buck Spin in NA and Nuclear Blast everywhere else. 

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