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Khemmis – Doomed Heavy Metal Award winner

Doomed Heavy Metal
by Gary Hernandez at 13 April 2020, 1:46 PM

KHEMMIS is a consummate Doom Metal band from Denver, Colorado. They have three full-length albums and a handful of much sought-after short releases including an EP, a split, and a single. On April 17, 2020 they issue a new EP, “Doomed Heavy Metal,” featuring a cover of DIO’s “Rainbow in the Dark”; re-releases of “A Conversation with Death” (2017 split) and “Empty Throne” (2017 single); and three live tracks (one song from each of their three albums). While I would have wished for a full-length album of all new material, “Doomed Heavy Metal” is still a monumental offering and leaves only two tracks from their 2013 S/T EP remaining on the hard to find list.

Although “Doomed Heavy Metal” won’t win an award for the most creative album title, it does deliver exactly what it promises: some heavy ass doom metal of seismic proportions. Clocking in at over 38 minutes, we get six massive tracks showcasing the band’s significant range and depth. The EP opens with a faithful, though significantly heavier, rendition of “Rainbow in the Dark.” Where the song understandably fails to approximate the vocal prowess of Ronnie James Dio, it surpasses it in sheer intensity. Purists will debate this one, but in my book it does Ronnie proud.

Track two is a re-imagining of the Appalachian folk song variably known as “O, Death,” “Oh Death,” and “A Conversation with Death.” While renditions of this song have proliferated cinema and television for years now, the KHEMMIS version far exceeds any in sheer resonance as well as musical composition. Lyrically, this song has undergone multiple modifications over the years based on the biases of whomever is covering it. Unexempt from this compulsion, KHEMMIS takes a minimalist approach, stripping the lyrics down to the first stanza of the 1916 version and the last stanza of the Peter Bellamy version. Add to that down-tuned riffs, a visceral tempo, and clean baritone vocals and the song completes a metamorphosis from an evangelical dirge into a medieval evocation of doom.

Third up is “Empty Throne,” a fuzz-laden, bass heavy tune, again from 2017. Now I know all Doom Metal is pretty much bass heavy, but this track takes it to a whole new level. Following are live takes of songs from the band’s first three albums in chronological order. They are all very good, but my personal favorite is “The Bereaved.” This song makes the hair stand up on my arms every single time I hear it. Every. Single. Time. Its lyrical intensity and raw authenticity, its bruising riffs and vocal styling, are simply exquisite.

KHEMMIS is named after an ancient Egyptian city. Several of the band members either have PhDs or are PhD candidates. Their musicianship takes on the complexity of Progressive Metal, but carries the gravity of Doom. They are, of course, much underrated which paradoxically makes them even more dear to their fans. If you haven’t been turned on the KHEMMIS, “Doomed Heavy Metal” is the perfect entry point.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10


5 Star Rating

1. Rainbow in the Dark
2. A Conversation with Death
3. Empty Throne
4. Bloodletting (live)
5. Three Gates (live)
6. The Bereaved (live)
Dan - Bass
Zach - Drums
Ben - Vocals, Guitars
Phil - Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 23 January 2021

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