John Fisher, August 4, 2018
I try to stick with buying one vinyl a month, and I carefully listen to new music that recently released before committing to the album I pick. When I settle on the vinyl purchase, I download it to my iTunes library, and listen to it in the car and on headphones for a week or so, and have a little solo celebration when the vinyl arrives. It happens maybe only one or two glorious times per month when I can put the vinyl on and crank the speakers full blast while nobody is home. But when it happens, it can be a highlight of my week.
I knew Khemmis was releasing towards the end of June, and I didn’t want to wait most of the month for new music, so for June, I went with Svalbard (good album/good message). That meant Khemmis was the shoe-in for July. So I ordered it and downloaded it, and spent a lot of time listening to Desolation during the month of July. A lot of time. I knew Deafheaven and BTBAM (aka metal royalty) were releasing in July but I figured I could hold those til August. Nope, couldn’t wait on those. So I bought all 3 for July with BTBAM & DH arriving late July. Khemmis gets the nod though, for this, my first album review.
“Bloodletting” – Huge riff to kick things off! 15 repeats before a mini solo for the 16th and into… “Have we gone blind?”…what a great album opening song. I like that they opened with a song that long time metal fans will appreciate. This song sets the tone for this band and this album. You’re going to enjoy some heavy metal first. After multiple listens on the journey of listening to Desolation as a complete project, I appreciate the variance in style from song to song, and this album starts with a metal song.
"Isolation" – Approachable one for all your friends who sort of listen to metal. This is a fun song. Catchy riff on perfect schedule followed by some horse galloping. Great song and may be a go-to song to pull in new Khemmis fans. Gets epic toward the end, but this ain’t the climax of the album by a longshot.
“Flesh to Nothing” – “From Ruin” or the end of “The Seer” (listen for the viola finish) may possess the most memorable parts on the album, but the climax of “Flesh to Nothing" is my personal favorite part on the record. It is truly impressive and reveals the elite combination of talented songwriting and technical skill level that Khemmis possesses. I love songs where the song is meant as a vehicle for the climax. Meshuggah’s “Humiliative” is one of those songs. After listening to “Flesh to Nothing” many times, I found it comparable, not in style or structure, but in the manner in which it cleverly unveils the beast it possesses. In “Flesh to Nothing,” the trek from [“Run Away, cast off his weight…” to “THIS BODY, NO LONGER A VESSEL” and all the way to, “Make way…I have time” (ultimately taking you to the peak)] is truly a magnificent part to any song I’ve heard, with guitar solos for the ride down. The rest of the songs (3 more) are solid, and completely different from one another. If you bought the vinyl, you’d also have this awesome lyric sheet (with artwork) to go along with the music, which adds another layer to the album. I was also lucky enough to see Khemmis live in San Francisco @ The Regency Ballroom before hearing any of their music (pic below). Good stuff Khemmis, enjoy The Maw of Time, and thank you for this album!