Melechesh // The Epigenesis
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Sumerian Metal Returns!
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU | US]
Websites: melechesh.com | myspace.com/melechesh
Release Dates: EU: 01.10.2010 | US: 10.27.2010

While the metal world has gone agog for Egyptian metal, and actually I’ve seen these guys linked up with Nile and Aeternam in other places, Melechesh is a unique band in that they are ultimately Sumerian metal. What’s the difference you say? Well, melodically not much. However, Sumeria is a totally fascinating historical place which was where modern day Iraq is (which is technically Mesopotamia, Sumeria was a grouping of city-states, this also includes the Israel and Palestine region). It is considered by most Biblical scholars to be the place where the “tribes of Israel” and the other natives of the region must have come from and it is south of or in the Fertile Crescent, which for anyone who knows their history is where agriculture is supposed to have come from. Some of the oldest texts in the world that we’ve ever found are Sumerian (written in Cuneiform) and the culture was highly advanced in math (inventing the abacus) and writing.

“I don’t read Angry Metal Guy for a history lesson!” I hear you saying. Well go fuck yourself, ’cause the intersection of history and heavy metal is pretty common these days. Everyone writes about history, ’cause it’s fascinating and more than anything else: it’s brutal. Like all old world societies, Sumerians are supposed to have been brutal. With brutal gods and brutal legends (not brutal legends), this is the stuff of nerd metal run galore. Indeed, Melechesh are on their third “major” label full length, the last being from 2006 Emissaries which was on Osmose, and first for Nuclear Blast. And it’s a doozy.

The Epigenesis, is of course, going to differentiate itself from the band’s earlier material to some extent, but fans of the band shouldn’t be disappointed. For one thing, the record is quite a bit longer than the previous album and this can be seen as a drawback. That is to say, I see this as a drawback. Where Emissaries, and their earlier records, were very much in your face, with a lot of blasting and rawness, The Epigenesis is really not as raw as the earlier material. Not only has the amount of general black metal blasting diminished, but the addition of two full-length instrumentals which aren’t even remotely metal tracks really slows down the flow of the album This isn’t to say that it’s BAD necessarily, but it lacks the intensity of earlier works, which is a shame.

That said, of course, it’s hard to fight The Epignesis, which is still loaded with amazing tracks. From the opening of “Ghouls of Ninevah” I was pretty much hooked on this record. The riffs are well constructed, and while never leaving the “middle-eastern sounding mode” (whatever the fuck it’s called), this doesn’t lead to boredom. In fact, because of the fact that the song writing is good enough, I found it to be a lot less repetitive than some of the other “middle-eastern sounding bands” (see: Nile). All through the record, from the melodic pieces to the really intense rhythmic pulsating in the track “Illumination: The Face of Shamash”, the tracks impress.

On top of that, the production on this album has a better sound than on any of the band’s previous works. Sphynx suffered from poor production and while Emissaries was a lot better, the production here is quite good, particularly in the drums, though not sounding as natural as they do on Djinn. Aside from the obvious and never-ending complaint that whoever is responsible for the mastering needs to turn everything the fuck down because I can’t listen to this record in my monitors due to peaking, the sound is much more natural than on previous record.

So do I suggest you go out and buy this album tomorrow? You bet I do. The Epigenesis may not be quite as good as Emissaries or Djinn, but it’s very much in the same ballpark as the previous records and it’s a solid output from an obviously talented band. I think the only suggestion I would give to the band is that maybe they could think of mixing the Sumerian musicscapes more artfully into the record à la Orphaned Land. I understand that as black metal guys from Israel Melechesh probably doesn’t want to be compared with Orphaned Land, but they have done a really fantastic job of blending those soundscapes into their music in a way that makes it a cohesive whole. It would add another dimension to this already incredibly winning formula and I’d love to see it the next time around—but until then I’ll enjoy The Epigenesis very much.

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