Khemmis – Hunted (20 Buck Spin)

Friday, 23rd September 2016
Rating: 9/10

Every so often there seems to be a band that’s poised to step into something bigger than just the musical scene from which they spawned. Denver Colorado’s Khemmis may just be that next band, and with their latest release, Hunted, they certainly make a valid statement as to why. Khemmis are a unique blend of old school rock and roll panache, traditional doom epica and gritty straight up heavy metal. To be fair, Khemmis are not unique by combining these elements and applying them to heavy metal. What makes them stand out is how they utilize key aspects of these dynamics into clever songwriting which makes Hunted the heaving heavy metal beast it is.

“Above the Water” opens Hunted with a heroic guitar solo that instantly brought to mind Metallica’s “Blackened” for some reason. The track treads back and forth between doom and rock n roll while dual guitar harmonies claim their place at the right moments, accenting vocalist/guitarist Phil’s emotive clean vocals. “Candlelight” follows similar suit but really dooms it out in the middle before being closed out by a NOLA sludge style guitar solo which leads into the excellently placed third track “Three Gates”.

This track screams off the start with its D Beat hesher attitude and harsh growled vocals (courtesy of Grant from Denver’s In the Company of Serpents). The diversity of Phil’s smoother sung vocals and Grant’s mid to high range growls offer a huge dynamic, playing perfectly off each other. They do not fall into the “good cop-bad cop” style that can sometimes ruin this type of vocal trade off, and it pays off in dividends here. “Beyond the Door” is brooding and morose, giving just the right amount of shade to the album. It reinforces that Khemmis still can kick out a great doom jam that, for my money, has all of the best elements of what the band do on one track. Epic finisher “Hunted” seals the album off solidly coming full circle with its triumphant (yes, again) dual guitar attack, soaring clean vocals, and intermittent rocking out before collapsing into oblivion, leaving you demolished.

Assisting Hunted along in its quest is an excellent production, which feels heavy, organic and clear but not obnoxiously polished. With Hunted, Khemmis are on the path of heavy metal ascendance. Miss this at your own peril.

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