Well, this is one that’s been quite hotly anticipated. Due to how ridiculously strong both Absolution and Hunted were, I had very high hopes for Desolation. Obviously, due to this intro blurb, I have not been disappointed. Desolation is a monster.
Mixing aspects of contemporary doom and metal with elements of traditional doom and classic metal, Khemmis are a band that stood out from the crowd very early on. I’m always impressed with how they can seamlessly blend old and new together like it’s the most natural thing in the world. You could be listening to sweet, emotive singing and brightly despondent melodies the one moment, before being crushed by monolithic riffs and deep deathgrowls the next.
This album is all about the metal. METAL!
Hunted was a refinement and progression on from Absolution, but Desolation sees the band take things to the next level. Here the band have crafted songs that take the core of their modern approach to emotive heaviness and develop it even further; Desolation is bigger, bolder, and arguably better than what came previously. The songs on this album are wider-ranging and more expansive, featuring a beating heart of molten metal that sits alongside the doom influences. This enhances and emboldens the band’s already sterling delivery, so that Desolation exudes not only presence and power, but a confidence that has grown from always being at the top of the quality pile, while always continuing to strive for better, for more.
The increased influence of energetic metal has overall made for an album that focuses less on its heavier, doomier origins, but without, (thankfully), leaving them fully behind. We still get some of the apocalyptic doom, with world-ending growls and dark shrieks. Most of the delivery is more focused on melodic, classic metal, of course, but Khemmis are still the band they’ve always been, while always moving their sound on.
Each song here has its own take on the Khemmis style, with some emphasising the increased NWOBHM influences, some opting for a more contemporary metallic slant, some revelling in the doom, while others taking a more progressive route to their destination. All of the songs feature most of those various preferences at one point or another, of course, (and more than these too), and Desolation is a very well-rounded collection of songs.
The singer’s lush clean vocals are as affecting and emotive as ever. More so, in fact, as his voice just seems to be going from strength to strength. The harsher vocals, when they appear, are performed less as deathgrowls, and more as blackened roars this time around, (although there is a mix of the two). I’m not complaining about this development at all, and these more varied and aggressive vocals are impressively savage and vicious.
Full of epic atmosphere, stirring melodies, strong songs, and killer vocals, Desolation is a surefire winner.