Metal & Mike: From Absolution To Desolation, KHEMMIS Continue To Thrive

Dread Central loves metal, so we decided it was about time to have a dedicated column devoted to the music! My name is Michael and I wish to welcome ya’ll to Metal & Mike!

Every other week I’ll be sharing new music and interviews with different bands, highlighting metal from all different subgenres. I’ll make sure everyone is catered from death metal to doom, to black metal and grindcore.

So sit back but don’t relax, because we have a lot of head banging to do my friends.

Since forming in 2012, Khemmis has become one of the biggest names in contemporary heavy metal. While their debut LP Absolution was released in 2015, it was their sophomore effort, Hunted (2016), that helped them gain massive attention.

“We’re flattered that our music has already reached so many people,” vocalist/guitarist Ben Hutcherson shares. “There’s no single answer as to why we’ve gained this sort of traction, but I think part of it is that we push ourselves to create music that we would enjoy listening to. By focusing on that, rather than attempting to write music we think some group of listeners might want to hear, I believe we wind up with songs that are authentic reflections of who and where we are.”

Earlier in the year Khemmis joined the lineup for the Decibel Magazine Tour. Hutcherson states that it was a blast playing with incredible bands and gaining new listeners. “The Decibel Tour was an absolutely amazing experience. We played to big, energetic crowds each night and became good friends with our tour mates, particularly the Norwegian riff wizards in Enslaved. It has definitely helped increase our visibility and garnered some cool offers.”

As of last week the band released their third LP, Desolation (20 Buck Spin). Continuing the Khemmis tradition in creating majestic melodies and heavy distortion, Desolation is a testament to the band’s talent. Each member’s influences come together to fuel their unique sound; each riff roars, presenting an intoxicating aura of bombastic instrumentation. “We are influenced by a variety of subgenres in heavy metal, ranging from Judas Priest to Immortal to Metallica to Neurosis,” Hutcherson says. “That said, each of us channels those influences in their own way, allowing us to create music that doesn’t just sound like a mashup of the bands we love.” From its opening track “Bloodletting” to its closing title “From Ruin”, Desolation is a powerhouse of emotion and brutality. From droning waves of splendid emotion, to the adrenaline of guitar shredding and drumming, Khemmis bring out all their best moves.

Hutcherson continues by sharing the lyrical ideas at play throughout Desolation, and how they explore the darker elements of life. “Phil [vocalist/guitarist] and I collaborated more thoroughly on these lyrics than in the past. We addressed feelings of anger, loss, grief, and despondency resulting from things we’ve experienced since Hunted came out. It would be an understatement to say that the last two years have been difficult, especially in my life, and this band has always served as a way of working through the dark times in a meaningful way. Not only can we exorcise demons of all sorts, but we are also able to create music that gives people a way to connect to each other and find some sort of peace in their worlds.”

For Hutcherson, crafting music for Khemmis involves presenting a sincere emotional experience. “We always strive to write music that sounds and feels like a legitimate representation of our experiences and the events in our lives. Getting the feel of the music right is incredibly important to us, and we generally start the songwriting process by figuring out what a given track should feel like, and how it works with the other songs on a given album to produce a compelling experience. The songs have to take you somewhere, and they shouldn’t take you to the same place(s) that the previous song(s) did. The inspiration that drives a given song’s emotional trajectory could be another band, a movie, a book, or a set of experiences that one or more of us is going through/has gone through.”

For longtime fans of Khemmis, or for metal heads looking for something new, Desolation is a must-listen to experience. It’s easily Khemmis’ best record to date, presenting an array of powerful instrumentation alongside poetic lyricism. Moving forward, Hutcherson states that the band will continue to create the best work they can. “We will continue to push ourselves to write music that is true to the essence of the band while exploring a greater number of musical avenues; we certainly never want to feel like we’ve written the same record twice. At this point, we’re simply happy with the success we have experienced and we’re looking forward to bringing our music to more stages around the world.”

You can stream and purchase Desolation via Bandcamp, or purchase a copy via 20 Buck Spin. And if you want to keep up to date on all my writing, feel free to follow me via Twitter. Thanks for tuning in and see ya’ll soon!



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