Khemmis – Deceiver (Nuclear Blast)

Friday, 3rd December 2021
Rating: 8.5/10

Steadily gaining critical acclaim and furthering reach across the doom/heavy metal platform, Khemmis arrives at their fourth album for Deceiver. Thematically channeling issues of brokenness, mental health, and trauma where we ‘deceive’ ourselves into believing stories the mind can tell us that may not necessarily be true – the arc of these six songs can be similar to the work of Dante’s Inferno of his own making. These musicians explore every crevice of influence – using the tools of dual clean/extreme vocals, gargantuan riffs, twin harmonies, plus tempo shifts from groove to blasting measures to keep this material diverse, emotionally charged, and moving in directions rarely heard from modern acts today.

Much like wrenching every last drop out of a sweat soaked towel that penetrates a 100% humid day, the trio compose and perform songs that contain many levels of interplay to drill down deep and absorb – shifting often from lower register hypnotic vocal harmonies into subtle acoustic ambiance or sheer blasting measures. Revel in the twin guitar lines against darker growls during the mid-section of “House of Cadmus”, the introductory sequences evil through its pounding, measured hits and clean picking – achieving aural bliss in melancholy and misery with some New Orleans / Crowbar-ish sludge accents. The traditional old school textures also pop in at the right times – the uplifting riffs throughout “Obsidian Crown” joining in unison with the twisting juxtaposition of lower, clean melodies and savage screams. Known for longer arrangements, Khemmis has that uncanny knack for injecting the right diversity so as to not feel monotone – especially for an eight-minute plus outing such as “Shroud of Lethe” which starts very Pink Floyd-ish in progressive, clean and atmospheric calmness only to pick up in heaviness and darkness around the five-minute mark, delivering death/doom devastation while the neoclassical-oriented lead break goes into breathtaking territory. Add in the professional touches of long-time producer Dave Otero and cover artist Sam Turner and it’s easy to remain captivated by the stepladder ascension of Khemmis – who understand that even in a doom/heavy metal platform, creative touches and challenges must be met and delivered for the sake of longevity.

Coming out of a global pandemic, Deceiver is the soundtrack to face the dawn of a new world. Time will tell if it stands up to previous benchmarks like Hunted and Desolation, but to these ears it’s on a similar playing field to satisfy the faithful and probably gain more newcomers to the fold.

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