Doom metal’s benchmark was set last year with the release of Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden and YOB’s Clearing the Path to Ascend. Both albums exemplified the emotional depth that doom metal elicits while reinvigorating a genre that was beginning to get stale and inundated unoriginal acts. Foundations of Burden skillfully combined traditional doom elements with minor traces of other genres (i.e. hardcore by way of harsh gang vocals) while Clearing the Path to Ascend put Mike Scheidt’s legendary doom pedigree on a pedestal by showcasing a culmination of everything he has successfully done over his illustrious career. Since their releases, there have been an overwhelming amount of doom metal bands attempting to replicate their success.
Enter doom metal debutants, Khemmis. The Denver, CO quartet is officially releasing their debut album, Absolution, through 20 Buck Spin on July 7. Khemmis has managed to buoy themselves about the waves of new, generic doom metal bands with the arrival of Absolution. The diligence and scrupulousness in which these six tracks were constructed is not often heard in a debut album. Each song lasts less than the customary 10 minutes that listeners are accustomed to when it comes to doom metal, making Absolution not only thorough but also efficient.
Khemmis funnel their influences’ sounds and styles into Absolution. The album is laced with High on Fire/YOB-esque riffs and distortion that are juxtaposed with the smooth and clear vocals similar to that of Pallbearer. This is not to say are imitating these groups. On the contrary, Khemmis succeeds where other new bands fail. They have effortlessly integrated their influences’ techniques into their own sound. This integration coupled with the top-notch production skills of Dave Otero has Absolution brilliantly standing out from the crowd of mediocre doom metal releases in 2015.
The implementation of dual vocals on Absolution bolsters the meaty rhythm sections throughout the duration of the album. Tracks like “Torn Asunder” and “Serpentine” illustrates this, resulting in involuntary bouts of head banging and air instruments. Album closer, “The Bereaved”, is a grandiose nine minutes of music and a worthy song to end such a refreshing album. Much like “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend, it serves as the emotional peak and beautiful conclusion to the very deep and powerful Absolution. Khemmis show the poise of seasoned veterans with the release of their debut album and it appears that Khemmis is here to stay for a very long time.