An introspective emotional crusade
Stressed? Have trouble finding peace? The comforting harmonies on Khemmis’ languorous new album Deceiver plays like a lullaby and will relax people in its doom metal arms in the best way possible. Officially released on November 19th, Deceiver is the latest album from this Denver, Colorado trio. Their official website states that Deceiver is their “darkest material yet,” as Deceiver accurately commiserates the shared human experience of inner torment and emotional affliction with the best of them.
For example, the epic journey vividly detailed on the album’s second song, “House Of Cadmus,” could easily be adapted and recited as a storyline in a D&D campaign. It has frequent tempo shifts where it picks up for a measure but then goes back into the original downtempo groove. This imitates the life of the depressed, where just as things start to pick up, it settles right back to where it was before. Lead vocalist Ben Hutcherson’s singing resembles a tinny version of Serj Tankian from System of a Down, but that comparison is more of a compliment than a negative. While not as full of a sound, when mixed with vocals from guitarist Phil Pendergast, it creates a distinguished, recognizable impression that helps set Khemmis apart. “House Of Cadmus” is accompanied by an animated music video created by Costin Chioreanu that assists in depicting the drifting vastness of a troubled mind.
The intro to “Shroud Of Lethe” mixes things up with a bit of post-production panning. If for any reason the listener was lost, they would be subtly sucked back in thanks to the power of frequency and a touch of flair in the style of a flamenco guitar. It then transitions into a low, single-stringed, begrudgingly moving guitar line complete with parallel harmonies and soft, rumbling action from drummer Zach Coleman’s tom-toms. The soaring ballad picks up with the entrance of the lyrics, which question the memories of a past life. Just like a tootsie pop, this track hides some fun vocal elements towards the center that enhance the deliciousness of the surrounding shell.
While only six tracks long, Pendergast sets the paradigm for soulful, lingering guitar solos everywhere through his work on Deceiver. The final track, “The Astral Road,” opens with one of these masterpieces. They say the cello is the closest instrument to the human voice, but clearly, they haven’t heard the emotional output Pendergast emits from his instrument. Hutcherson doesn’t do a bad job either, performing adventurous guitar solos on “Avernal Gate,” “Living Pyre” and “Obsidian Crown,” among others.
Deceiver ends on a surprisingly positive note, with “The Astral Road” leaving a shred of hope to drift away on, a place where “the will to live is not a lie when the darkness comes.” It’s not all doom and gloom for Khemmis, as the release of Deceiver shows they are in a good place musically, lyrically and as a team. Through Deceiver, Khemmis show that they are not afraid to confront their innermost disturbances with confidence that they will come out victorious. Take this as a sign to check out the album and follow suit.