I’ll admit, I’ve been sitting on this one for a bit. Khemmis’ debut album, Absolution, struck me as a slightly crunchier Pallbearer… and while there’s nothing wrong with that at all, it didn’t quite tickle my fancy. Oh well, second time’s the charm, right?
This time, they’ve stretched out the songs a tad, with just five tracks averaging a shade under nine minutes each—mostly owing to the 13-and-a-half-minute epic at the end. They kick things off with “Above the Water,” which wastes no time in getting down to its slow ‘n doomy business. And yes, this one really reminds me of Pallbearer too, a downtuned, lugubrious, funerary march offset with clean, glass-cutting guitar riffs and entirely intelligible, sorrowful vocals.
“Candlelight” commences with a slow, heavy riff that recalls Candlemass, complete with soaring melodic vocals in the true doom tradition; the Warning is definitely strong with this song. But all comparisons aside, this is a pretty solid track… although they introduce some death-doom growls halfway through, which kinda harshes the mellow. Then they pull a thrash-rabbit out of their hat in the form of “Three Gates,” a rumbling mid-paced sludge number that recalls High on Fire or maybe even Entombed… until you get to the soaring clean vocals on the chorus. Gotta give ’em credit for switching things up with this one, although it eventually moves back to the clean, melodic doom in the track’s latter half.
And they go right back to that well on the nine-minute “Beyond the Door,” channelling Warning and Pallbearer once more. While they haven’t shaken their reputation as Pallbearer’s little brother, I’d still say Khemmis has taken a step forward with this second record.