[Haunted Riffs Review]: Khemmis Capture Epic Doom on ‘Deceiver’!

Being the metalcore force that they’ve been for more than three decades, Converge has always been interested in experimentation. The band’s most iconic release, Jane Doe (which came out 20 years ago), is a testament to that; going beyond the realm of hardcore song structure, Converge laid out an experience that hammers and throttles away with technical madness, fusing ambiance and ferocity into one. While innovation has remained an essential element within the band’s music, their latest collaborative release makes for one of the strongest examples of what they are capable of creating.

Chelsea Wolfe grabbed the attention of listeners and critics alike with her 2015 LP Abyss – a fascinating work of metal, noise, and goth rock – making for music that captures the surreal space of dreaming. Stephen Brodsky is another musician you may have heard of, especially given his many technical contributions to incredible acts like Cave In, Mutoid Man, and Converge. Together, these three shaped Bloodmoon: I – a stunning work of heaviness, chilling ambient space, and intriguing genre blends.

The opening title track has Converge frontman Jacob Bannon speaking in a whispery tone, solemn key work gently playing underneath and alongside him. Wolfe’s singing lingers in further building upon the track’s creepy-esque tone. The minor guitar wail and distortion fit her voice perfectly. As the instrumentation picks up in intensity, the rhythm establishes a hypnotic flow. The listener may feel in a trance; the underlining guitar rhythm lulling them deeper, each word spoken by Bannon and Wolfe soothing. That is until Bannon barks with his trademark Converge vocals. An added metallic beat brings a new dimension to the progression, maintaining a sense of tranquil flow, yet elevated and thrilling.

This sort of fluidness to instrumentation and vocals allows for Bloodmoon: I to be a consistent surprise throughout. There and then listeners will come across some conventional approaches – like “Viscera of Men,” which plays in a way like a typical Converge track. But where a track like this also detours from such material is in how much the instrumental presentation expands on atmospheric direction. Like a chilling goth metal act, the banging drums and booming bass exude this great theatrical presence, the guitars fueling the almost horror-like vibe.

Where we see more drastic shifts, in terms of Converge, are in cuts like “Coil”. While there are moments of sonic pouncing, there is a restraint in heavy metal presentation. The ethereal tone is perfect for Wolfe’s voice, but overall lends itself wonderfully to all the vocal contributions. The genre blending becomes more apparent the further one gets into Bloodmoon: I. “Flower Moon” is a grunge cut with an added punch, whereas “Lord of Liars” is both noise and math rock.

It isn’t even the range in sound and style that make up the record that’s impressive, but also the range in each song. Converge, Wolfe, and Brodsky have crafted a work that is brimming with constant surprises. The technical and vocal twists and turns are tough to predict, with listeners discovering beautiful gems of hard-hitting and gentle emotion. Where one may possibly view Bloodmoon: I as just a record that highlights some killer artists, it is more so a fusion of these brilliant minds. Each artist is not only providing their strengths, but playing off the strengths of each other. Bloodmoon: I is not only a stellar collaboration from some of the best artists in heavy music, it also makes for a brilliant end cap to the year.

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