By Lord Randall

Some thoughts on doom metal. First off, the labeling of something as “doom” does not automatically make it doom metal. Injecting the very occasional arpeggio or supercharged riff into your doom goes about as far into metal as slowing things down once in a while legitimizes your metal as doom. Doom metal is its own style, and one sparsely populated. While doom-influenced acts have enjoyed their spate of fly-by-night popularity and Pitchfork/Vice mag hipsterness over recent years, Doom Metal ™ remains hallowed and underground , at least thus far. CANDLEMASS’ "Nightfall", ISOLE ’s "Silent Ruins" and GRAND MAGUS’ "Wolf’s Return" stand as landmarks, as do SOLITUDE AETURNUS’ "Into The Depths Of Sorrow" and CRYPT SERMON’S "Out Of The Garden". 

Add to this illustrious list Desolation, KHEMMIS’ all-important third album, and first firmly entrenched within doom metal. Sure, there have been metal elements within its work before, but before the first minute of ‘Bloodletting’ is over we hear dual leads coupled with galloping rhythms and foot-on-the-monitor empassioned vocals. This, friends, is metal songwriting with care for the song first and foremost, as it should be. ‘Isolation’ swings, BIBLE OF THE DEVIL and SLOUGH FEG reference points, but far from mimicry or pastiche. Slung low and grinding in the main riff, ‘Flesh To Nothing’ morose and mournful at its most joyous, the plaintive lyric “Run away, cast off this weight, remove the shackles / Take the reins while I have time” freely bleed emotion and desire, while ‘The Seer’ is an anthem for the anthemless, fuel for the forlorn to aid their burning. ‘From Ruin’ uncharacteristically – for doom metal, at least – leaves us with a sense of hope at the end of Desolation, reminiscent of Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season In Hell, “Out of the darkest night / No one could help me find the way / But in the new spring dawn / I find the strength to carry on.”

KHEMMIS has always delivered quality yet, it’s with Desolation that it has truly become a band. Where the quartet goes from this, their finest hour, is anyone’s guess, but I am wholeheartedly looking forward to finding out.