*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured State*
This month’s State is Colorado!
Named after an ancient, Egyptian city comes Khemmis from Denver, CO. Doom, while admittedly not my usual cup of tea, this band had me hooked from my first listen. So much more than just slow, ominous, sludge that I normally find boring after about two or three songs. Hell, Khemmis has a number of songs that are over six minutes each that never approach being monotonous and demand to be listened to again and again. I have literally worn out their debut album “Absolution” trying to codify their sound and musical direction in my head. *Please note that I am not “bashing” Doom and am attempting to broaden my Metal horizons here. Music is purely subjective and I have just never found a Doom band that has spoken to me like Khemmis has.
With influences ranging from classics like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy to Modern Doom, one would expect the status quo, correct? Yes, they are heavy, uber-low and gloomy. Yes, they are slow and portentous with fuzzy, psychedelic distortion. Yes, they are loud to the point of being abusive at times. This is precisely where Khemmis breaks from this tried and true recipe in modern Doom, however. The heterogeneously complex and layered guitar work of Ben Hutcherson and Phil Pendergast along with wonderfully musical harmonies and unending riffs are reminiscent of the late 80’s/early 90’s duel-guitar, British Invasion Metal. On top of that, add the often dissonant rhythms laid down by the Geezer-esque bass playing of Daniel Beirs and appropriately slow drumming of Zach Coleman and you have that modern Doom sound. They also have a really cool Classic Rock groove that is too often missing in cookie cutter Doom music. Finally, inject the beautiful vocal harmonies and guttural barks of Phil Pendergast and you have the sound that is the distinct and ascribable to Khemmis alone. These are all trademarks of Khemmis’ read on the genre and are absolutely brilliant. Every aspect of their music is smooth, flowing and sad to the point of tragedy; dealing with dependence, suicide and extreme depression. There are zero uplifting vibes or lyrics from Khemmis. Don’t even waste your time looking because what you will find is blunt honesty and sincerity both in lyric and in melody. Khemmis has a soul that elicits such a deep emotional response that is almost eerie. Thought provoking and mature. Dark and haunting. Heart-wrenching and incredibly eloquent.
Born in 2012, Khemmis has two releases: their 3 song, self-titled EP in 2013 and “Absolution” in 2015 by the 20 Buck Spin record label by Dave Otero and Shane Howard at Flatline Audio in Westminster, CO. Currently touring the Unites States and abroad they are also working on their second studio album with 20 Buck Spin due for release late in 2016. If it is half as good as “Absolution” it is sure to be a stunner. With bands like Khemmis, count me in as a new Doom fan…