Tue 7th July 2015
Clean vocals in doom are not a rare thing, but still not as common as the old growl n' grunt that we predominantly hear these days.
Good clean singing, now there's a dodo egg if there ever was one in the doom genre. Khemmis crack this one open and serve it sunny side up at the start of album opener Torn Asunder.
Wavering around the easy reference points like the ever name-dropped Wino, Khemmis opt to combine several styles here which gives it a detached feel. The clean vocals soon give way to throaty screams and from then on there's an uncomfortable clashing of influences to proceedings. This is a shame as the clean ones ring out and grip your attention, the others serving to distract from the regal and almost pompous air.
There's some classy harmonies happening with the guitars too, the constant interplay has a classic rock feel, this weirdly jars with the sludgey feel of some of the riffs and the out and out metal of other sections.
The arcane lyrics on Serpentine paint a picture, a fantasy story that makes sense for once. Too many bands throw meaningless semi-vague sentences together, which only serves to bring artistic merit into question and confuse. This feels like a role playing game come to life.
So what can you make of Khemmis through their strange sheen of influences? Well their riffs certainly let rip when they want to, displaying an incredible nod to the likes of Maiden and Thin Lizzy, but they also want to be a doom band one moment, maybe even a mid-paced hardcore band the next, so fixating on anything is difficult.
With repeated listens you'd know what to expect, but the parts are bigger here than the whole. Variety is no bad thing, but when jammed in like this, it's like a boat loaded with just too many cannonballs, sure it's heavy, but it doesn't quite float.