Albums of the Year: Khemmis

von am 9. Dezember 2016 in ...in english please!

Albums of the Year: Khemmis
© Travis Heacock

On Hunted, Khemmis can keep all the promises their formidable debut Absolution gave 15 months ago, and let fans of Pallbearer and Crypt Sermon alike lick their tongues: nobody in 2016 managed to bridge the distance of epic traditional doom and grand melodies better than the band from Denver, CO. Thus it comes as no surprise, that the four-piece managed to storm the upper ranks oft he end oft he year charts by Decibel magazine. Hard to tell, to which heights the rapidly evolving Khemmis might rise in the years to come. But it sure will be a pleasure to witness.

Zach (Drums)

blood-incantation-starspawBlood Incantation – Starspawn

I love evil death metal. This is the best album of that variety for 2016.

Links: Facebook | Bandcamp

spirit-adrift-chained-to-oblivionSpirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion

Killer riffs and catchy vocals lines…I’ve listened to this album a lot (and you should too). The ending lyrical nod to Townes Van Zandt is a nice touch.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

black-marble-its-immaterialBlack Marble – It’s Immaterial

This is a worthy follow up to A Different Arrangement, which itself is an album that has helped me through some tough spots. Sad dude forever.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Sumerlands - SumerlandsSumerlands – Sumerlands

I really hate the almost-electronic drum sound, but I like everything else about the album (including the actual drum performance). These songs will get stuck in your skull.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

vektor-terminal-reduxVektor – Terminal Redux

This style of metal isn’t usually my thing, being more of a caveman myself, but this has hooks and some of the most insane drumming I’ve heard in a while.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton TreeNick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Stripped down and heart-rending stuff from the master…see above i/r/t sadness.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Phil (Gitarre/Vocals)

David Bowie - BlackstarDavid Bowie – Blackstar

I listened to this for the first time the same morning I found out about his death. He’s one of my all-time favorite artists and has had a greater impact on my tastes and aspirations than possibly any other, so the timing and lyrical content of the title track, Lazarus, and I Can’t Give Everything Away brought me to tears. I was and still am staggered by this album, both musically and in terms of his message and foresight to leave us with such a gracious gift; an intensely purposeful and personal statement that stands as his very best work since, at least, Scary Monsters.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton TreeNick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

The imagery on this album is so vividly depressing and the music so stark that it could have just as easily been called „Grief, Incarnate„. I’ll be haunted by the image of a woman in a red dress unable to even navigate the supermarket because of the strength of her loss, forever. This was the only other album this year that brought me to tears.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Sumerlands - SumerlandsSumerlands – Sumerlands

This record is so damn infectious. I initially hated some of the production choices here (that loud delay on the vocals!) and still dislike the final, instrumental track, but the songwriting and style are right up my alley. I’m pretty sure I can sing along to every word on this thing by now. Not that anyone cares.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

vektor-terminal-reduxVektor – Terminal Redux

It is hard to describe why I like this record so much. I’m not really a fan of thrash, overly-technical metal, or this vocal style. But DAMN(!!!) everything from the artwork to the bonkers lyrical content just WORKS, and this record pushes the genre forward in almost inconceivable ways. Just listen to this and the similarly long-winded „Hardwired“ and it is obvious that Aliens beat Dinosaurs, every time (See also, Blood Incantation’s Starspawn for further proof)..

Links: Facebook | Amazon

hail-spirit-noir-blue-mayhemHail Spirit Noir – Blue Mayhem

I loved last year’s Tribulation album, Children of the Night, and this year’s albums by Oranssi Pazuzu and Hammers of Misfortune. This completely unique record reminds me of all 3 (plus Dr. John’s 1968 album, and personal favorite, Gris Gris), distilled into some evil, aural potion and poured into my ears by a bunch of demonic Greek folk musicians. The bizarre loop of plucked strings(?), bells(?), glockenspiel(?) and typewriter keys(?) at the beginning and end of Lost in Satan’s Charms is the time-traveling medieval/21st century equivalent of the infamous intro to Pink Floyd’s „Money“, and stands as maybe my favorite musical snippet of the year.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped PoolRadiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Thom Yorke’s voice has always captivated me regardless of the accompanying music, and that is primarily why I own and at least moderately enjoy every Radiohead album so far. While certainly not a career highlight, this record is haunting in its own right and more than influenced my vocals at the end of the title track on our new album „Hunted“, which I’m sure makes sense to no one but myself. But that is the point; I think everyone probably gets something different out of this record. I got inspiration, and that is some of the highest praise art can achieve.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Dan (Bass)

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton TreeNick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

This album is crushing; both lyrically and musically. Anytime an album can make such a profound & immediate emotional impact, it’s special. I really can’t communicate just how powerful and beautiful this record is to me.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Sumerlands - SumerlandsSumerlands – Sumerlands

This album is a blast. There are a lot of things about the production I don’t love, but the quality of the tunes overcome all of that. The songs, sometimes uncomfortably so, approach a line of cheesy 80’s metal gimmicks, but they somehow succeed in never crossing that line. Instead, it’s full of fist-in-the-air rock-n-roll triumphs.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

David Bowie - BlackstarDavid Bowie – Blackstar

Like the Nick Cave album, I think this oozes with emotion. I feel it’s creative and edgy, as most of Bowie’s works have been, but somehow, it’s still very comfortable. Lyrically it is so deep; musically very dark. It’s a consuming record.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

white-lung-paradiseWhite Lung – Paradise

I honestly don’t know why I like this album as much as I do. It’s lot of different things, many of which I don’t typically care for on their own. Somehow it mixes many genres & styles in a very creative way that allows me to overlook the stuff I normally wouldn’t get into. I’m not calling it a guilty pleasure or anything, it’s a legit record and it has quality post-punk foundation, but it’s just one of those records you like without being able to put your finger on why.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

a-tribe-called-quest-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-4-your-serviceA Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

Tribe has always been infused with jazz, real melodies, and quality musicianship. So much of this genre is saturated with unnatural bass farts, juvenile electronic drum patterns, and painfully simple keyboard parts; groups like Tribe stand apart by being musical. This is far from their best work, but it is certainly head and shoulders above most main-stream hip-hop. It was a breath of fresh air for me to hear a quality rap record again.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Ben (Guitar/Vocals)

inter-arma-paradise-gallowsInter Arma – Paradise Gallows

This album just blows my mind. It touches on almost every subgenre of metal while becoming more than mere pastiche. The way they introduce themes and then explore them again later on the record is immensely satisfying, and they boldly wrap it all up with Where the Earth Meets the Sky, a haunting piece that echoes Pink Floyd. An album this dense and meticulously constructed absolutely must be experienced in its entirety.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

spirit-adrift-chained-to-oblivionSpirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion

Catharsis incarnate. It’s impossible for me to listen to this album and not feel Nate Garrett’s pain when he’s belting out “Possessed by a hunger/Crying out to die.” This album features so many memorable guitar harmonies and rivals Inter Arma for doom(ish) album of the year.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

anagnorisis-peripeteiaAnagnorisis – Peripeteia

Equally as cathartic as Spirit Adrift, but exploring the human condition from a much darker perspective, Anagnorisis topped the excellent Beyond All Light with memorable songwriting and a visceral exploration of trauma. Constructing an entire record around one band member’s dark childhood is atypical for USBM, and the vulnerability of the lyrical content and audio samples combined with the fire of the music yields an incredibly compelling release.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

void-omnia-dying-lightVoid Omnia – Dying Light

Void Omnia’s new album is dismal and atmospheric without succumbing to the meandering that can plague West Coast/Pacific Northwest USBM. From the opening tremolo picked chords of Remnance of a Ghost Haunt, this record balances bleakness with catchiness and, as a result, deserves repeated spins.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

wormed-krighsuWormed – Krighsu

SPACE MADNESS. I don’t know how this band manages to continually produce the soundtrack to universal entropy, but as long as the end product is this fantastic, I don’t care what space deity they had to sign a compact with. Unlike so many “tech” bands, they employ their instrumental prowess to produce otherworldly deathgrind rather than sounding like a sweep picking clinic at Guitar Center.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton TreeNick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Even if you don’t know the story behind it, Cave’s sorrow is palpable from the first moments of the album. When coupled with the knowledge of his son’s death, Skeleton Tree evolves from an record by a legendary musician into the confession of a man attempting to look ahead after tremendous loss. My father passed away this year, and the prospect of a future without someone who’d been by your side for so long is one that resonates with me. Though I would not attempt to equivocate the experiences, my own grief has allowed this album to move me in a way few other pieces of music ever have.

Links: Facebook | Amazon

Khemmis online : Facebook | Website | Bandcamp | Twitter | Amazon || 20 Buck Spin

Photo Credit @ Travis Heacock: Website | Facebook

Many Thanks for Participating! The Heavy Pop Adventskalender 2016!

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