Khemmis has slapped us with their latest offering, a six-track EP entitled Doomed Heavy Metal (out April 17th,2020). Boring album title yes, but it’s accurate. Take the opening track, “Rainbow in the Dark,” a classic heavy metal jam originally by Dio (pour one out for Ronnie James Dio, preferably from a chalice) invigorated with the doom metal heavyosity that Khemmis can lay on so well. Vocally, I don’t think there is a metal singer who can hold a candle to Ronnie James Dio. That’s not even my opinion, it is decreed in the bible of heavy metal. Watch the video for Dio’s “Holy Diver,” and you’ll understand why he’s heavy metal royalty. That said, singer/guitarist Phil Pendergast does a commendable job belting this one out, and backed by the layers upon layers of sludgy doom that Khemmis pour out, this is a fantastic revisit of the song.
Khemmis follow up with “A Conversation with Death” and “Empty Throne,” the former of which is worth the price of admission for the guitar solo alone. But the song rides on much more than that with astounding vocal harmonies, skull penetrating doomy guitar riffs and drums that hit hard and seem to slow down time itself. I was surprised to see the song fall just under five minutes. It legitimately felt like a ten-minute song. “Empty Throne” is my least favourite track on the EP, a meandering melange of heavy riffs that doesn’t go to enough interesting places to warrant its six minutes. It’s still worth a listen just off the merits of Pendergast’s amazing voice, but I’m far more interested in the other tracks.
The final three tracks on the EP are live versions of original material, one track from each of Khemmis’ three full-length releases. My take away is holy fuck can Khemmis replicate their studio sound live! It’s near pristine in its interpretation. It also proves that Khemmis know what the fans like taking three of their most revered works, “Bloodletting” “Three Gates” and “The Bereaved.” As all proper live tracks should, they work in the crowd noise artfully; I especially enjoy the brief chanting at the beginning of “Three Gates,” which took me back to Type O Negative’s The Origin of the Feces.
As brief as this EP is, it proves that Khemmis are a force both in the studio and live. A metal powerhouse that requires your attention and deserves way more recognition in the metal cannon.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*Edited by Dominic Abate