Nuclear Blast Records
04 October 2010
by Tom Dare
Their name may not be as well known as other black metal outfits, but Melechesh‘s last album, Emissaries, was a distinctive masterpiece, honing their sound to a point sharp enough to decapitate any number of angels dancing on pinheads. Where to go next? Four years later, The Epigenesis provides the answer in spectacular fashion.
Melechesh have been described as “Mesopotamian metal”, which tells some of the story. Gargantuan melodic riffs draw on thrash and black metal but with a uniquely Middle Eastern sound. Pentatonic scales and decidedly non-European time signatures are out in force, and are joined by a furious vocal and rhythmic brutality. What has evolved between Emissaries and The Epigenesis is the sense of otherworldliness. previous records carried a strong sense of the mystical, but here there is a far more ethereal feel.
This is perhaps why The Epigenesis may require a few more listens to sink its claws in. Where previous album openers had instantly titanic hook-laden riffs at the start such as in ‘Genies, Sorcerers and Mesopotamian Nights’ or ‘Rebirth Of The Nemesis’, ‘Ghouls Of Nineveh’ takes a few plays before the hypnotic sway ensorcels you. The riff may be what first achieves this, but the sheer vastness of the music is what cements it – the dynamism of Xul’s supreme drumming that ranges between the delicate and the savage, the compelling scream of Ashmedi and the interplay between lead and rhythm parts.
Watch the first of a series of trailers for The Epigenesis here:
Melechesh are able to take a fairly simple ideas, explore them thoroughly, embellish them with other instrumental parts and conclude it definitively, frequently taking 7 or 8 minutes to do so, without ever letting things drag on too long. That they can do this consistently across an album for over 70 minutes, and take in acoustic instrumental odysseys through the sounds of the East, from the Bosphorus to the Indus on the way, is a staggering achievement.
The world of metal (and extreme metal in particular) is full of bands satisfied with safety, of making the same record over and over again. In a genre that extols the virtues of individualism while instead producing legions of lesser imitators, Melechesh are a true original – a creative force willing to take artistic risks in an effort to achieve their utmost, their music an honest expression of self. The Epigenesis is their pinnacle, a brave, unique record that wears its brilliance easily, and stands out from the crowd like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in an overgrown allotment.
Sounds like: Aeternam, a Middle Eastern version of Mayhem
Top tracks: Ghouls of Nineveh, The Magickan And The Drones, When Halos Of Candles Collide
Melechesh – The Epigenesis tracklisting:
Ghouls Of Nineveh
Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin
The Magickan And The Drones
Mystics Of The Pillar
When Halos Of Candles Collide
Defeating The Giants
Illumination: The Face Of Shamash
A Greater Chain Of Being