Sweet, sweet Denver doom. Khemmis is back and your ears will thank you after you cruise their new album, Hunted.
How do you follow up an album that got plenty of praise without screwing it up? Khemmis got right back to work after Absolution putting together their second album. If anyone was expecting a sophomore slump, your fears may be put to rest. Shit, even the new album cover from Sam Turner is cooler than the last.
I probably listened to Hunted four times the day I got it just to make sure there wasn’t anything I missed. All I got was riff after riff in what is becoming the Khemmis way and I think Hunted builds in quality across five tracks. This is a strong follow-up album that goes for broke at the end in the self-titled track, my favorite of the affair and their longest to date.
One thing I did notice after a couple listens –aside from how awesome the entire album is- was less frequent harsh vocals from guitarist Ben Hutcherson, though Khemmis did opt to use In the Company of Serpents Grant Netzorg’s voice on the third track, “Three Gates,” which is also the heaviest cut on the album. I kind of dug the back and forth vocals on Absolution, but I didn’t mind the change here in Hunted.
After a handful of listens, I almost have to admit that I like this one better than Absolution. Everyone just plays their part perfectly. Phil’s voice and lyrics are just as great and clean as the last, his guitar and Ben’s just blow riff after riff through the speaker. Their playing has also gotten tighter. Those guys just deal a solid take on doom. I felt like Dan’s bass and Zach’s drums took a backseat throughout the first part of the album but were allowed to open up in “Beyond the Door.” Blast beats aren’t Khemmis, so I think it’s natural for the drums to not be as spotlighted in this setting, but they certainly play their (important) part in every track.
So where do they go from here? They just pushed their ceiling higher in 2016 after setting it the year before. Whatever they do next I’m sure will kick ass because that’s two great albums in a row, with development from the first to the second. Khemmis didn’t rinse and repeat with Hunted, and that would’ve been just fine, but grew a bit more delivering a rad follow up that didn’t change too much while changing just enough to make it better.
Hunted is available now from 20 Buck Spin Records.
Khemmis is playing Hunted in it’s entirety for the record release party at the Hi-Dive 10/21 with Spectral Voice and Cult of the Lost Cause.