KHEMMIS / CLOAK / HUNTSMEN
Date: 26th July, 2019
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $15/17 (€13/15)
Promoter: Empire Productions
KHEMMIS had been escaping my music-radar with a significant success, because this show would be the first time seeing them live. Ok, the truth is that it was me dropping the ball as far as this band is concern and this show was a solid chance to redeem myself. The only downside of that Friday was that it was in the end of an extremely busy week and therefore, I needed some downtime before committing myself into a Metal show. Blame it on my age or whatever you like, but the result was that the so-needed nap lasted more than it should, and I missed HUNTSMEN. That’s a shame, but it was really above my power...
Anyway, CLOAK were about to start their set and I was ready to get into a Metal mood and dust off my shoulders from the week’s fatigue. With their back turned to us, the taped intro let everyone know that Black Metal was soon upon us. Under minimal lights, the band from Atlanta started pounding with “In The Darkness, The Path”. This is not the typical Black Metal but with a tad cleaner vocals and distinct riffs that make a huge different in CLOAK’s sound. Come to think of it, the closest band to what CLOAK are playing would be TRIBULATION, but with more Black Metal evilness and close to zero Gothic references as compared to the Swedes. “We are CLOAK and this is “A Voice In The Night””, said singer and guitarist Scott Taysom before hitting harder with this groovy banger. Again, the mix of melodic riffs and pounding rhythm (loved the drums here, by the way) seems to be the direction CLOAK are following as this was a new song. A short taped-intro with violin melodies passed the baton to the darker “Beyond The Veil” and I have to give kudos to the sound engineer for giving the bass the proper sound during the mid-tempo part in the beginning.
Unfortunately, Max Brigham seemed to be having some technical issues with his guitar and even though the rest of the band jammed a bit to give him to recover, he did not manage to make it work. The show must go on and this is what CLOAK did as a three-piece. When Max returned, he received a massive cheer from the audience in some sort of acknowledgement that such things happen, no matter how hard you try. CLOAK did a solid set that even though it was short it did get the band’s message out because judging by the reactions around me many were drawn by what they have just heard. I will definitely check their studio material.
01. “In The Darkness, The Path”
02. “A Voice In The Night”
03. “Beyond The Veil”
04. “Into The Storm”
05. “Where No Light Shines”
(click to enlarge)
Seeing how many people had come to the show made me feel kind of bad for this, being the first time seeing KHEMMIS live. I mean, there had to be something good in this band from Denver, CO and I was soon to find out. Oh my, the intro kicked in, the band showed up and there was a loud cheer from the people inside Reggie’s. Apparently, the band has a strong following in Chicago and there is no doubt about it. However, the really good stuff started coming with the headbanging rhythm of “Above The Water” and one could only see people already headbanging. There was an addictive energy coming from the stage from the band that floored the gas pedal from the very beginning. The epic Doom Metal chorus was the icing on this cake and with delight I saw quite a few fans singing every single lyric. Yep, this was enough to understand what I had been missing. And to make things even sweeter, the sound mix was awesome with the bass at the proper volume making the rhythm section even heavier. It’s been quite a while since the last time I’ve heard catchy and epic Doom Metal and this was the proper reminder. The band did not stop but went straight to the following track of the “Hunted” album with “Candlelight” putting Doom Metal into bold letters. To my ears, KHEMMIS sound like the amalgam of the traditional Doom Metal from Europe and the epic Doom Metal from the US; think of ATLANTEAN KODEX with some CANDLEMASS (of course) for the former, and PALLBEARER with a bit of GRAVES AT SEA for the latter. In fact, the growls in the “Candlelight” by guitarist Ben kind of directed me to mention GRAVES AT SEA.
“How are you doing? It feels fantastic to be back my friends”, said Phil before getting back at it, with a tad slower but still ton-heavy “Bloodletting”. I can definitely understand the need to sing along as the epic vocals melodies are begging you to join in with your fist in the air. And to add the double-guitar harmonies just tops this off. Ben took over the lead vocals during the fast(er) headbanger “Three Gates” and I can say this with complete confidence; there were not many metalheads (or doomheads if you prefer) who were not headbanging along. Apparently, last year I did miss the chance to hear the entire “Desolation” live, something that I learned from Ben; “It is great to be back; we so much appreciate you. Last year, we released “Desolation” and played the entire thing here” he said before the moody “Flesh To Nothing”. The combination of the sad chorus with the galloping guitars was the perfect showcase of KHEMMIS’ Doom Metal. The long MAIDEN-inspired guitar pars are an absolute delight in between the hard-pounding parts.
The epic side of the Doom Metal KHEMMIS were delivering, showed us its sharp teeth during the title track of the band’s latest album. That’s right, moshing entered the menu with the groovy rhythm section of “Hunted” sounding the charge and right there, a nice mosh-pit was formed. Once again, I love the bass sound in this one and how solid the rhythm section becomes because of it. “Fuck yeah, thank you Chicago!” acknowledged Phil before letting us know that there was just one more song to do… I say “just” because the set felt short but I guess this meant that I had a great time. Indeed, the seven minutes of “Maw Of Time” gave us one more chance to headbang and then, enjoy the massive feedback coming from the amps as both Ben and Phil started playing into the speaker; awesome.
I am sure I shared the same satisfaction with all these sweaty metalheads who were leaving Reggie’s with huge smiles on their face. All the fatigue I had weighting me down from a long week had just become ancient history and that’s a golden feeling. Now, it is about time to add KHEMMIS to my vinyl collection and enjoy their awesome album cover artwork.
01. “Above The Water”
04. “Three Gates”
05. “Flesh To Nothing”
08. “Maw Of Time”
(click to enlarge)