Khemmis – Doomed Heavy Metal

Rating: 4/5
Distributor Label:
Nuclear Blast
Released: 2020
Buy Album:
Band Website:

Band Line Up:

Daniel Beiers – Bass
Zach Coleman – Drums
Phil Pendergast – Vocals, Guitar
Ben Hutcherson – Vocals, Guitar

  1. Rainbow in the Dark
  2. Empty Throne
  3. A Conversation with Death
  4. Bloodletting (live)
  5. Three Gates (live)
  6. The Bereaved (live)

Colorado based heavy metal doom-mongers Khemmis have been on my radar for quite some time, since the release of their critically acclaimed second album Hunted, released in 2016.

Doom metal is quite possibly my favourite sub-genre of metal, and Khemmis manage to scratch every itch whenever I need my fix. Inspired by ZZ Top and their Fandango album, Khemmis have released a new EP of three studio and three live tracks entitled Doomed Heavy Metal, and you know exactly what you’re in for from that title alone.

The band state on their official website:

“As lifelong fans of ZZ TOPFandango has been a consistent source of inspiration for the four of us. The combination of high-octane live cuts and rare studio recordings make the release stand out in the band’s discography. In that tradition, we are thrilled to announce Doomed Heavy Metal. This mini-album is similarly unique, combining sought-after singles and live cuts together on one record.”

Opening track ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ is an inspired version of a Dio classic from 1983’s essential Holy Diver, and the band manage to make it work. Turning a hard rock classic into a crushing sludge workout is no easy feat, but it’s played with such conviction that it just leaves me with a huge smile on my face and yearning for a full album of Dio covers in the doom and sludge metal style. Vocally, Ronnie James Dio was nigh-untouchable but the lead vocalist on this track does a pretty great job, whilst keeping the Khemmis sound. It’s very impressive.

Two fan-favourite rare cuts make the EP, consisting of the bombastic ‘Empty Throne’ and the folk-inspired, thundering interpretation of Lloyd Chandler’s bluegrass track ‘A Conversation with Death.’ Sweeping, beautiful waves of melancholia flood Doomed Heavy Metal, with themes of loss, death, despair and grief. If you’re looking for joyous summer tunes, you won’t find them here. Doom metal probably isn’t for you. However, fans of the genre will find comfort with these tracks and nothing is out of place, right down to the haunting chants of “Oh death…” that open ‘A Conversation with Death.’

The live tracks are pretty solid too, and normally I’m not overly keen on live recordings of this kind of metal, but the three songs on offer are pretty solid and showcase Khemmis as a formidable live act. ‘Bloodletting’ has some ruthless riffing passages, and ‘Three Gates’ is just excellent; while ‘The Bereaved’ is a tour de force of all things doom with incredibly powerful vocals mixed brilliantly above the cacophony of noise the band bring to the table.

Perhaps Doomed Heavy Metal is just what some of us needed during these dark, crazy and uncertain times. Some people may find solace within the crashing melancholia and loneliness, wrapped in the warmth and the knowledge that others feel the same way. It’s an excellent EP, and I’d recommend it for both the hardcore fans and newcomers to the genre. The short length is easier to digest than a full album for people looking for a ‘way in’ to the genre, and pre-existing fans of the band will find something here to appreciate.

Review by Jack Merry