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Album Reviews : Melechesh – The Epigenesis

By on November 10, 2010

One of the most original and exciting extreme metal bands of the last decade, it’s certain that Melechesh are one band that cannot be easily pigeonholed. Combining elements of thrash and black metal with Mediterranean drum patterns, aggressive grooves, a hefty injection of quaint melody and their signature riffing derived heavily from traditional middle eastern folk scales, Melechesh successfully create a subgenre all of their own. The band themselves have previously dubbed this sound as Mesopotamian Metal, a label I think befits Melechesh perfectly. Their latest opus of mythological mastery titled The Epigenesis has recently been released upon the world, and is only going to see their growing fan-base expand even further.

Rather than ripping face from the first minutes in as with each of their previous albums, opening track “Ghouls Of Nineveh” playfully reveals itself as one of the albums rockier tracks, foreshadowing pieces of what’s to come in tasteful bites. Frontman Ashmedi’s vocals are as venomous as ever, and the steady groove that the band has ridden many times in the past is ever present. It doesn’t take too long for the album to gather pace however, with second track “Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin” delivering the first taste of oriental black metal that has gained the band so much attention in the past.

Breaking up the extreme metal onslaught is the welcome return of ambient instrumentals which have been a staple of the bands albums in the past. “When Halos Of Candles Collide” and “A Greater Chain Of Being” offer a canvas for to dabble in traditional instrumentation with a more world music feel. Such instruments include the yayli tanbur, Azeri Tar, baglama saz, Indian sitar, Persian santur and 12-string guitars. These compliment the array of middle-eastern scales utilized in the band’s songs perfectly, offering a break from the often constant tremolo picking and double kick, without losing the imagery and atmosphere that the band has already crafted.

As well as dabbling further into the depths of world music than ever before, Melechesh also seem to be further exploring their black metal roots, with moments of “Sacred Geometry” sounding more akin to classic Immortal. This is perhaps similar to the way in which the band has paid homage to other influences such as Celtic Frost in the past, and blends with their own take on black metal perfectly.

The album closes with the industrious title track, clocking in at over twelve minutes. Easily the most epic song the band have recorded to date, “The Epigenesis” is an album highlight and a very strong way to close out what might be their most well rounded and consistent album to date.

It is no surprise to hear that the album was recorded in the megacity of Istanbul which connects both the continents of Europe and Asia together, as Melechesh have always presented their music in an east-meets-west type of fashion. World class production of their unique brand of extreme metal seamlessly woven together with traditional Middle Eastern instrumentation and their trademark mythological lyrics give Melehesh a world music feel without alienating the listening by sounding too foreign.

Where 2006’s Emissiaries took the perfect combination of styles that the band had experimented with in the past, The Epigenesis takes the finally crafted sound and focuses more on the songwriting element. While all of the bands previous albums have been an obvious evolution from the one that preceded it, The Epigenesis maintains the style that won the band such critical acclaim in the last few years. And while perhaps not as instantly gratifying as their previous works, it offers a deeper listening experience for those looking to scratch past the surface. Fans of the band won’t be disappointed, and fans of bands such as Nile and Celtic Frost should definitely check this one out. 8/10

Artist: Melechech
Album: The Epigenesis
Year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal / Thrash
Label: Nuclear Blast/Riot! Entertainment
Origin: Jerusalem, Israel
http://www.melechesh.com

Tracklisting

1. Ghouls Of Nineveh
2. Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin
3. Sacred Geometry
4. The Magickan And The Drones
5. Mystics Of The Pillar
6. When Halos Of Candles Collide (instrumental)
7. Defeating The Giants
8. Illumination: The Face Of Shamash
9. Negative Theology
10. A Greater Chain Of Being (instrumental)
11. The Epigenesis

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.