1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 397

Hunted, by Khemmis
Suggested by Craig Jones

If you’re a fan of Justin Bieber, then you are, officially, a Belieber.

Personally, I can think of more than one choice epithet I’d rather call fans of Justin Bieber, but that’s being unkind. I mention it to highlight that, sometimes, the fanbases of a band adopt fun or whimsical monikers to describe themselves en masse.

Fans of Lady Gaga, for example, are called Little Monsters. Led Zeppelin fans go by Zepheads, much like the Grateful Dead’s Deadheads. Aerosmith have a Blue Army, apparently, while Barry Manilow only allows his Fanilows into the Copa. Ed Sheeran has Sheerios, Eminem has Stans, Gary Numan has Numanoids, The Killers have Victims. Lewis Capaldi has Big Fat Sexy Jungle Cats, but to be honest that smacks of desperation.

Fans of Khemmis? They should be called Khemmists.

Hardcore fans? They’d be 24-Hour Khemmists. Band historians? Analytical Khemmists. Fans that spread the word? Dispensing Khemmists. Roadies? Khemmical Engineers.

So what of the band themselves, that would spawn such a Khemmical reaction? It seems they are a Doom Metal outfit from Colorado, with a nine-year and three-album career thus far. Hunted is their second album released in 2016, to some critical acclaim. Rolling Stone named it the eleventh best Metal album of 2016, which to me has a few too many qualifiers to be truly impressive. To paraphrase Frankie Boyle, it’s like being voted Most Handsome Man… in the Burns Unit.

The phrase Doom Metal gives me pause. It’s defined as an extreme subgenre of heavy metal that typically uses slower tempos, low0tuned guitars, and a much sludgier sound that other genres, all intended to invoke a sense of impending doom. This subgenre divides further into Epic Doom and Traditional Doom, and fuses with others to bring us Death Doom, Blackened Death Doom, Gothic Doom, Progressive Doom, and the wonderfully evocative Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. Standout bands include Candlemass, Mindrot, Lucifer’s Friend, Shape of Despair, Eyehategod, Acid Bath, Disembowelment, and Make A Change… Kill Yourself.

I’m guessing I won’t be getting a cover of Walking on Sunshine today.

Surprisingly, through its five admittedly overlong tracks, I find Hunted to be a lot more approachable that I suspected I would when going in. The music feels pendulous and foreboding, which is to be expected given the genre, but the suggested sludginess isn’t sluggish, and the songs don’t drag their feet. It’s the vocals that raise the majority of my eyebrows, in that they are mostly clean and attractive. They’re given a slight discordant and dissonant feel, which heightens the sense of disquiet. And there’s an oddly bored quality to the delivery, as if the singer would rather be doing something more productive with his time.

Alas, there is a growing element to the vocals at times, specifically in tracks two and three, Candlelight and Three Gates. I guess it adds to the apocalyptic vibe, but it’s not particularly welcome in this house. Choosing a standout is tricky too, which highlights another issue: the overlong songs all meld into one seamless whole, even with the growling, and while it’s perfectly pleasant in a rock-metal mould, it’s pretty shapeless overall. If pressed, I’ll go with the titular Hunted, which closes the album.

Hunted gets 6/10. I liked it well enough, but there was no real Khemmistry.

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