It’s not uncommon for a more traditional doom band to take a turn toward power metal—Argus first made strides in this direction with Boldly Strides the Doomed, while Age of Taurus is leaning much more towards the swords ‘n sorcery set on their outstanding second album, The Colony Slain. We can also now include Khemmis in this conversation. The Denver doomsters, whose first two albums were very reminiscent of Pallbearer, have upped the tempos and added some galloping trad metal riffs here on Desolation, their best release to date.
The album begins with an Iron Maiden-esque riff on “Bloodletting.” The vocals still remind me of Pallbearer, while the faster drumming on the verses leads into a slow, ‘n heavy chorus. This is a prime example of power doom. Some nice breakdowns on this six-and-a-half-minute number—they actually kick it up into mid-paced thrash territory for a spirited solo around the five-minute mark. Pre-release single “Isolation” is a compact 4:48, and the shimmering opening riff could have been taken from Argus—or maybe even Blind Guardian. The longing vocals soar a little higher on this more upbeat number, and suit the overall theme quite nicely.
“Flesh to Nothing” is a head-nodding mid-tempo stomp that stretches to seven and a half minutes, throwing in a couple of pretty lugubrious passages along the way. There’s even a full-out black-metal section, complete with garbled vocals, around the five-minute mark. “The Seer” might be the closest track to their Pallbearer-infused past, but at this point in the album, it’s a welcome change of pace. “Maw of Time” brings back the power-metal chug despite its slower pace, complete with a more aggressive chorus vocal and a super-heavy sludge section about five minutes in.
At nine-and-a-half minutes, “From Ruin” ends the album on a slower, heavier note. This one falls somewhere between Pallbearer and Argus, and includes a minimalistic, vocal-driven section that starts around 2:30 until a heavy trad doom riff comes in a minute later. They pick up the pace to full-fledged power metal ahead of a traditionally true-metal guitar solo, before veering back toward Pallbearer for a melodic, melancholic finish.
6/29/2018 Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA
7/01/2018 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
7/07/2018 Hi-Dive – Denver, CO
7/27/2018 Mr. Small’s – Pittsburgh, PA @ Migration Fest
7/29/2018 Parc Jean-Drapeau – Montreal, QC @ Heavy Montreal