Album Review: Khemmis – Deceiver

The Breakdown

An album that has risen out of the ashes of depression and dark places and flies high with complex melodies and heavy as hell riffing.

Heavy doom metal masters Khemmis have released their fourth full length studio album, ‘Deceiver’, via Nuclear Blast Recordswhich has been nearly three years in the making. With a title that reflects the internal struggles that many of us battle in our daily lives, Deceiver is a ferociously honest and appetisingly raw piece of musical artistry.

“Thematically, all of the songs are about the many ways that we are tricked into believing these stories about ourselves–that we are broken, that we are not good enough, that our genetics determine our fate. This title is the label that we put on our minds as a force that tricks us into believing these stories,” describes vocalist and guitarist Phil Pendergast. “The record’s lyrical trajectory is similar to Dante’s descent into an Inferno of his own making. It is our darkest album to date.”

“While our minds and hearts are responsible for this kind of deception, so too is the world around us. There is this dialectic between the two that produces suffering. Anyone who has struggled with mental health or suffered any sort of trauma will tell you that there were times that the mind is its own beast that has to be wrangled,” explains guitarist and vocalist Ben Hutcherson. “In that sense, we become the deceivers ourselves; we believe we deserve to be the vessel for this pain and this suffering that is being inflicted on us both externally and internally.”

‘Avernal Gate’ opens with some cool sounding acoustic with some classical inspired noodling which as we all know is just building up to the moment the track explodes. The track doesn’t disappoint and a thunderous riff is unleashed. The track is brimmed with some awesome guitar work as expected from Ben Hutcherson and Phil Pendergast who entrance with the solo.

‘House of Cadmus’ brings the evil to the album from the opening bass line that sets the scene and the dark psychedelic that the rest of the track displays mixes with the dark, sorrow filled lyrics that offer a glimpse of hope on the chorus. But its the death march that track morphs into that really gets under your skin. “I knew that I wanted the lead guitar line in the second half of the song to tie two very different parts together,” explains Hutcherson, “but the idea was all really abstract until we were in a room together. It wasn’t until we jammed out that big funeral/death doom bridge and the slow, sad coda that we found out what we wanted that lead line to be: memorable and emotive. It was a very honest musical moment together.”

The first single Living Pyre is an emotive tour de force where the lyrics hit just as heavy as the music. “When it comes to my own mental health, when I’m in a bad place, I can’t access the part of me that creates art. After reaching that understanding of myself, the bulk of this song came out in one sitting. I was feeling stable. I was feeling hopeful–even though so much outside in the world was not exactly inspiring. All of us needed a reason to feel a glimmer of hope,” recounts Hutcherson. The use of the two styles of vocals emphasises the mental struggle and internal fight.

The slow ‘Shroud Of Lethe’ with its gorgeous guitar chords on the verse and soaring chorus featuring the bands best vocal performance on the album. Before they let the beast out and the track has a death metal moment. Zach Coleman’s solid drumming beating is the bands secret weapon as he is the powerhouse and driving force behind these tracks that Hutcherson and Pendergast then grow from.

Theres no let up as the album throws us straight into another emotional journey with ‘Obsidian Crown’ full of groove that rages on with its infectious beat. The band use the guttural growls and clean vocals as a kind of call and response, an internal struggle. As Hutcherson explains “Anyone who has struggled with mental health or suffered any sort of trauma will tell you that there were times that the mind is its own beast that has to be wrangled.”

The epic opening of final track ‘The Astral Road’ builds and builds as it takes you on a musical journey. Reaching a doom groove right before tipping over the edge of hell. The track is the perfect ending to this dark album and showcases the bands breathtaking music, from the sizzling lead playing and clever use of the vocal styles to the heavy pounding from Zach Coleman keeping the tracks raging along.

Apocolyptic doom with a complex melodic structures on tracks that are deep with emotional lyrics that come from a personal and dark place. There was a chance this album wasn’t going to see the light of day which makes it more amazing that it’s as good as it is, the band have stepped their game up big time. From out those dark places comes an album that goes beyond expectations and one of the best metal albums this year never mind from the doom genre.

Check out the bands track House Of Cadmus, below:

Find out more via the band’s website or Facebook

Purchase the album here

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