Label: 20 Buck Spin/Graven Earth Records Band: Kemmis Origin: United States
In an earlier write-up, back when I put four reviews in one piece, I embraced Khemmis. Their silk-smooth adaptation of classic doom, inlcuding the ‘Heavy metal’-esque artwork, was completely captivating to me. The female warrior is gone, but the foreboding wizard is still there on the cover, spurring undead hordes on for battle it seems.
Khemmis, as a reminder, hails from Denver, and this is their second full length. I’m completely baffled that they haven’t been getting as big yet as I believe they should be, but the four gents definitely got some boost after their debut ‘Absolution’. The sound of the band hasn’t changed that much in the mean time, though the heavy, dreary sound that reminded me of St. Vitus has switched gears a little.
There is still a mournful tone to the sound of Khemmis (and some deep guttural barking, if we listen to ‘Candlelight’), but the biting twang of the previous record seems to have taken the back seat. ‘Above The Water’ is instantly a more meandering, melodic track. Sure, the band leans heavy on the slow progressions, insepparable from their doomy sound, but they are really telling stories now.
We get even more down and dirty on ‘Three Gates’, where the hoarse roar of the vocalist (I know they have two, just don’t know who the grunter is) opens up the song. Exchanging the grunts with clean, soaring vocals is an emocore trick, but works great on doom as well. Shifting gears and intensity, the band makes great, captivating tracks by not caring for any standards. That makes Khemmis so liberating to listen to. You forget what genre they play or become more aware of the futility of its rules. These guys make an epic bit of music, by not giving a flying fig.
The brutal parts, the catchy passages on ‘Hunted’, it is all part of what Khemmis does. Grand doom with all the tasty sauce to make you absolutely love it and crave more.
New music for the people! A batch from the underground with Khemmis, For Giants, Les Attitudes Spectrales and Benoît Pioulard. Good music for your ears, this is.
Khemmis – Absolution
Though the name is not ringing any bells yet, the cover of the new record by these doom lovers reminds me of 70’s fantasy and immediatly attracted my attention. A big sounding band with a classic influence. Towering riffs and majestic solo work. The Colorado band has only been around for a short while, releasing their debut on 20 Buck Spin. Production was in hands of Dave Otero (Cobalt, Nightbringer). This promises much for the future of these young men, since their sound is that kind which has a quality that doesn’t tie itself to certain decades.
Six monumental tracks of clean vocal doom, sounding mournful but still keeping an energetic pace that works pretty well from your lazy chair. It has pretty much everything going for it. A fancy cover, good production and the sound of earthy catacombs. Lyrically the band is in love with grandeur and dark themes. How else would you like to have it? There’s a certain pop sensibility to the sound of this band, that makes the music very accesible. I would argue that this is a good thing for what they are aiming to do. Doom traditionally has that element and these guys put it to their best use.
For Giants – You Are The Universe
Nothing beats a good bit of atmospheric, instrumental rock music. Specially if it masterfully sets down a mood and tells a story on its own without using words. This continent spanning American project has produced a couple of releases over the last few years and this is the most recent album, number two if we were counting. The sound is a clean, sharp and spacious. It feels a bit like an outer space adventure sonically.
The feeling this music gives can be described as a bit of Ayreons grandeur (call me crazy if you will) and The Mars Volta’s experimental zoning out. Add a bit of that good old Devin Townsend weirdness and I guess you got a bit of the vibe these guys offer. The clean, soaring guitar parts take over where you’d expect vocals and do so rather succesfully. The band themselves put their sound between progressive, djent and metalcore and that seems pretty much fine as well. It’s a good listen, thats for sure though.
Les Attitudes Spectrales – Floral Wreck
Maybe its a personal thing, but a noisy/experimental French/Latvian duo that is being compared to the White Stripes is for me reason enough to check some music out. The result is a psyched out, primitive, jangling series of pop tunes featuring drums and guitars from the duo. There’s a certain weary drag to the sound that is slightly remniscent of the more dreamy and hypnotic psych bands of these days.
The unpolished, raw sound of the band is in fact the greatest charm of their sound, which is natural and free in shaping itself. Labelling it as compost rock or ghost punk seems rather fitting. The lo-fi sound only adds to the charm of the band, which has been performing in the Baltics mainly. Truth be told, I feel this is a worthy candidate for next years Eindhoven Psych Lab. The sound is much more adventurous, daring and yet minimal to the almost primitive with a good dose of weird.
Benoît Pioulard – Stanza
Thomas Meluch decided to take up an artist name with Benoît Pioulard for his organic work. It’s music and photography, and the two seem to have become intertwined somehow. The soothing, fuzzy sounds are like the nature pictures accompanying them. Free of human intervention, clean and pure. Meluch is extremely productive and every other month another record appears to be released on his bandcamp. A good thing, if you ask me.
The seven songs of this record are not action packed tracks. They embrace a sense of tranquility, calm and atmosphere like the sunrays through a forest on a summer morning. Life is slowly awakening and things are still quiet. Slow droning sounds quiver in the air, sounding a bit distant as if its a concious lo-fi recording to create more ambience. The record is intended as a companion piece for the LP ‘Sonnet’, but I’m fairly sure it stands strong enough on its own as a soothing piece of ambient.