Sound: Accessible black metal? Is this the end? Wait there's more: Black metal from the middle east. Surely this idea is as believably absurd as Christian black metal, right? Well, it's real and its knocking the stuffing out of the audience at the Maryland Deathfest.
What makes Melechesh so listenable is pretty obvious once you press the play button: Each riff is crafted with an almost seductive Middle Eastern scale. This riff exchange from black metal 'evil' tremolos to a mixture of said tremolo riffage and empowering power chords give each song an immediate catchiness which is combined with Middle Eastern drum rhythms on occasion to create a grooving beat to some of the songs. This can be perfectly sampled through the song 'Sand Grain Universe' in this album. Although the band's sound is generally accessible, every musician is unrelenting, especially the drummer, Xul, who at times is reminiscent of Inferno (Behemoth) with his claustrophobic drumming style and the guitarists are more than competent at laying down sandstorms of riffs such as in the fan favourite 'Rebirth of the Nemesis'.
Black metal is inherently underground in its base design but Melechesh seem to be changing the general face of it with their brand of oriental black metal. // 9
Lyrics: The vocalist, Ashmedi, has a strong affinity with Sumerian mythology and anti-Christian themes due to his Assyrian background and isn't afraid to express his ideals in the utmost through his music. Although quite a few bands have explored these ideas before (Septic Flesh and Behemoth spring to mind for the mythology, as well as practically every other BM band for everything else) it's insightful to learn about these cultures and what propels bands like Melechesh forward.
Vocal wise, Ashmedi has a spiteful sounding black metal screech in his arsenal of talents and has the knack to match the catchiness of the instrumentation with his vocals to a perfect balance. Also accompanying Ashmedi is the band themselves at times in a choir/choral style sing-a-long backdrop such as in the late half of 'Rebirth of the Nemesis' which is a song thats been dubbed 'the hit' by Terrorizor magazine. // 8
Overall Impression: While it might seem a bit of an unconvincing idea, Melechesh as a whole is a force to be reckoned with. It might take a while to get your head round it, but the riffs are addictive and the general sound grows on you like an ancient vine. If you were new to Black metal in general, then using Melechesh as starting point would be good way to start before going into the more extreme varieties.
The album needs to be listened to all the way through for full impact but there are tracks that do stand above the rest: 'Rebirth Of The Nemesis' is perhaps the best track on the album, 'Ladders To Sumeria' is surprisingly addictive, 'Touching the Spheres of Sephiroth' is a full on blastfest that leaves you bewildered with its sonic violence, 'Gyroscope' is an interesting reinvention of the song by The Tea Party (Canadian rock band) which is fairly listenable if short, 'Sand Grain Universe' is along the same veins as 'Ladders To Sumeria' but much more explosive and the title track 'Emissaries and the Mysterium Magnum' is a 7 minute epic. 'Scribes of Kur' takes some time to get through but there are some good bits in this folksy instrumental that sound like tribal dance music.
All in all, Melechesh is definitely a band to look out for and a new album is on the way for this autumn. // 8