Khemmis is a doom metal quartet from Denver, Colorado. With a plodding, fuzzed-out, bass-heavy sound that draws on ’80s-era influences from Mercyful Fate and Sleep to Saint Vitus and the Obsessed, and melding stoner and doom metal, they’ve carved a unique niche in the extreme music community. Absolution, their 2015 debut album, won comparisons to Pallbearer and High on Fire. Utilizing mostly clean vocals amid distorted, downtuned guitars, they craft insistently catchy melodies and riffs while allowing volume and effects to color in the margins with bone-crushing intensity. 2016′s Hunted claimed the top spot in Decibel magazine’s Top 40 Albums of the year. After signing to Nuclear Blast, they issued the expansive, melodically rich, devastatingly heavy Desolation in 2018 with its charting single “Bloodletting.” At the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they issued the Doomed Heavy Metal EP, consisting of unreleased and/or deep cuts from different stages of their career, and a solid cover of Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark.” After the departure of bassist Dan Beiers, they issued 2021′s Deceiver as a trio.
Khemmis was formed by school pals Ben Hutcherson (Glacial Tomb, guitars/vocals) and vocalist/guitarist Phil Pendergast. In turn they recruited bassist Daniel Beiers (ex-Lords of Fuzz) and Texas-born drummer Zach Coleman (ex-Vasaeleth). Their chose their name from an ancient Egyptian city that is currently known as Akhmim. They rehearsed and played local shows for over a year before issuing a three-track self-titled digital EP in 2013. Touring regionally, then nationally, they played small clubs and opening slots. Khemmis fine-tuned their sound, which continued to evolve from the doom and classic metal they loved, outfitting it with custom touches, from excellent lyrics and wonderfully twisted twin-guitar leads to warm and punishing power riffs balanced by a requisite yet uncommon heaviness. They issued their debut long-player, the six-track, 40-minute Absolution, through 20 Buck Spin. Recorded with Dave Otero (Cobalt, Primitive Man) and Shane Howard at Flatline Audio, the album earned critical and popular praise. Decibel made it one of their Top Ten albums of the year, while it simultaneously earned accolades from metal and hard rock-specific internet sites and magazines as well as more general culture outlets like NPR. The favorable attention resonated with metal fans across the spectrum, and earned the band slots at music festivals in Europe and the United States. They returned to Flatline Audio with Otero for 2016′s much vaunted Hunted, which established the outfit as headliners in their own right, playing larger clubs and headlining smaller stages at festivals including Roadburn. The album was not only heralded by the press, it sold much better than its predecessor and, given its relative accessibility, established Khemmis’ reputation with indie rock fans, many of whom were just coming to heavy metal. After a solid year and some months of touring, the band inked a deal with Nuclear Blast and recorded Absolution with Otero. The album was released in conjunction with 20 Buck Spin in June of 2018 and followed by an international tour lasting some 14 months.
In April of 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic’s travel bans and quarantines kept the globe in a state of lockdown, Khemmis issued the Doomed Heavy Metal EP, which consisted of rare and unreleased material. Its focal point for fans and critics, however, was an acclaimed cover of Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark.” Bassist Dan Beiers left the band after its release. In November 2021, Khemmis released the full-length Deceiver, written, recorded, and produced as a trio. That December, they began touring without adding a bassist. ~ Thom Jurek