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

Desolation album cover.
Desolation album cover.
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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.

Denver doom band Khemmis has blown up nationally.
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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