Tag Archives: Khemmis

Ten Bands Lighting Up the Metal Scene in Denver, Colorado

Love Gang

Love Gang photo by Michael Goodwin

Historically, Colorado has been fertile ground for classical music, folk, and even bluegrass, but the region was never known as a hotbed for metal. Occasionally, groups like Jag Panzer, Cephalic Carnage, and Havok surfaced from the oxygen-deprived mountain air, but there was no discernible scene that was appreciated nationwide—until about five years ago.

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Album of the Day: Khemmis, “Desolation”

Slick and lightly proggy, Khemmis’ big, pounding take on doom shares more with traditional heavy metal à la Iron Maiden than it does with sadder, slower, and similarly-hyped superstars like Pallbearer. Their third album, Desolation, bears a passing resemblance to a host of like-minded outfits—among them, Candlemass, Baroness, Manowar, Procession, and Kylesa—but it spikes the mix with occasional blackened metal growls. On Desolation, Khemmis sound tighter than ever, courtesy of the improved and searing solos, and a stronger integration of aggressive vocals alongside clean and soaring ones. Second track “Isolation” opens with a galloping assault, and its vocal hooks are built for singalongs; the guitars weave their way down wildly varying yet occasionally intertwining paths. “How could I pray for salvation / When I’m the only mourner yet to grieve?” hardly sounds fun on paper, but shouted along, it becomes surprisingly exultant.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Free Jazz, Doom, Indie Rock & More

7 essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Ten Bands Who Are Shaping the New Wave of American True Metal


Original picture from David Quigley.

The winner’s history of American heavy metal encompasses Sunset Strip glam, Bay Area thrash, and Florida death metal, but there’s surprisingly little of what could be considered traditional heavy metal. (The same goes for its offshoots, trad doom and power metal.) That style of metal—guitar-solo-powered, with flamboyant lead vocals, often with lyrics about fantasy and science fiction—has long been a major force in Europe, but, cult fandom aside, the U.S. has never fully embraced it.

Of course, Americans have been playing the genre sometimes called “true metal” since its inception. Their patron saint is the late Ronnie James Dio, the New Hampshire-born singer who found fame with the British bands Rainbow and Black Sabbath before launching his multiplatinum solo career. Dio represents a best-case scenario for Americans playing this music; the far likelier outcome is that of Manowar or Manilla Road or Solitude Aeturnus—adored by a dedicated base, ignored by the majority of U.S. metalheads, and much, much bigger in Europe.

In the past couple of years, that tide seems to be turning. A class of bands influenced not just by Dio and the ubiquitous Iron Maiden, but by the never-quite-famous American true metal middle class, is emerging. Many of these bands have members with a background in extreme metal, punk, and hardcore. It might be that the young and angry have a tendency to age into Conan-reading heshers—or it might be that, in the time of Trump, it just feels good to sing about wizards and dragons. Whatever the reason for their existence, these bands are distinctly and meaningfully American—and they are forging a path for the next generation of traditional metal acts to follow. These 10 represent this recent movement at its best.

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