Khemmis's Desolation Is a Battle Ram of Personal Anthemic Metal

Desolation album cover.
Desolation album cover. Khemmis
Khemmis, which sits on the throne of Colorado's metal resurgence, has released its latest album, Desolation, a six-song exercise in anthemic power metal that offers epic meditations on existential quandaries. It takes the listener on a deeply personal journey from suicidal fantasy through grief, mourning and, ultimately, redemption — a Joseph Campbell-inspired trip into the psyche, loaded with Jungian archetypes and symbolism.

Iron Maiden fans will find a lot to enjoy in the Denver doom band's latest effort, which boasts wide-open vocals  pitted against occasional flirtations with death-metal incoherence. The songs mix Tolkien-style myth-building — if Mordor was the pit of despair burning within all humans — with rage, heavy distorted guitars and a battle-ram rhythm section.

click to enlarge Denver doom band Khemmis has blown up nationally. - KHEMMIS
Denver doom band Khemmis has blown up nationally.
Mile High metal acts like Primitive Man have shifted toward alienating, soul-crushing noise music reflecting on the horror of the times, but Khemmis has continued to open its arms to a wider audience, with an accessible brand of metal that is apocalyptic yet pleasurable and ripe with commercial appeal.

While over-the-top songs like “Seer” might make fans wonder when Khemmis: The Musical will drop (and it would probably not be much different than a power-metal version of Pippin), they also offer a sound as wildly beautiful and harrowing as a burning forest.

The record is filled with all sorts of metal tropes: heresy, burning skies, salvation, ashes, graves, thorns, wolves, snakes and gods — all on-the-nose stuff of the genre.

There’s plenty to head-bang to on Desolation, and perhaps even more to daydream to — and it’s in that mix of brutal metal and doomsday storytelling coupled with a deeply personal quest toward healing that the act defends its reign over Colorado's metal scene.

Khemmis will celebrate its album release at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 7, at the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway. 
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris