Sound: The vultures of the east are back with a follow up from 2006's acclaimed 'Emissaries' which by all accounts, was pretty damn good. Now Ashmedi and his battle rabble known as Melechesh have offered the gods an offering of 'sonic magick' in Ashmedi's own words. Crafted with axes of the heavy variety and ancient melodies revived, The Epigenesis has retained the sound that Melechesh has carved into the metal world and has improved and developed it into a cyclonic sandstorm of terror and awe.
Much has been left unchanged yet also added from 'Emissaries' and while the guitars still have their biting, sharp sound there has also been an amp up in the overall bass making it feel much heavier than it should be which is more appropriate for the simplistic yet addictive riffs. The drumming is as chaotic and explosive as always with black metal but also unusually tight: Xul shows he is more than a match for any of Norway's icons in the BM scene.
The way it was recorded is also something to take note of. Ashmedi stated that they recorded in a little known studio in Turkey which hadn't even finished being built. To get as a good a sound as possible, they experimented with the infrastructure of the building, such as recording the guitar amps at a flight of stairs to get a 'natural reverb' from the echo within the wooden stairs occurring and it really shows.
As well as keeping their eastern folk/black metal sound, there are influences from meditative music, thrash metal and even psychedelic rock which are all heard at points throughout the album and it adds these tiny but significant details to it all. For true black metal fans, there's little that could be recovered from that scene but with an open mind and open ears it's very easy to like this album. // 8
Lyrics: Ashmedi is very much in the zone on this album cuz as well as being a great song writer, his vocal work fits so well, he has never sounded better and his lyrics have grown from the soil just as much. Something that plagued the music in Emissaries was the mixing of his vocals which were slightly buried by the guitars, drums and bass but The Epigenesis has resolved this smallish issue by giving his voice the place it deserves. As well as his Arabian snake hiss which is a signature of Melechesh, Ashmedi also infrequently delves into some clean vocals such as in fleeting moments in the song 'Sacred Geometry' which only add to the melodic content of Melechesh's material. His performance was attributed (by himself, no less) as his best work as when he recorded, he did it naked covered in jewellery in a room filled with rugs, candles and incense to put him in 'the zone'.
Melechesh cannot be faulted on lyrical content, every album is an homage to Middle Eastern and Arabian culture and The Epigenesis focuses on ancient myths, folklore and something often attached to the Middle East, 'magick and mathematics'. Taken from 'Sacred Geometry':
Sons of Sumer, open your eyes
Awake, discover maze of the sublime
Born within the cradle
Voices of the essence
Curious Enlil's legions forever watchful
As we transcend plural psyche banishing
The essence speaks to us
In every cell, in every stone and space
This combination merges into the music brilliantly and helps set a certain mood and feel with the music. // 9
Overall Impression: Melechesh have always had their own sound which none could touch save for their melodeath counterparts, Arkan. The Epigenesis is indeed one of Melechesh's finest albums and a proper trip through mystical planes of existence and temples of the east (to bring some blathering praise into the lines). As well as making the music heavily atmospheric and atmospherically heavy from the layered guitars, traditional instrumentation and dancing drum grooves, Melechesh include with the CD a portfolio of photos from the recording process and traditional artwork to really create a mood as well as commissioning the CD overleaf to made with incense filled paper. It deserves your time to listen to it and almost demands a ritual of some sort lest you feel ashamed. Actually, sitting down with oddly crossed legs going 'Ommmm' doesn't sound like a bad idea.
Songs to look out for: 'Ghouls of Nivenah', 'Grand Gathas of Baal Sin', 'Sacred Geometry', 'The Magickan and the Drones', 'When Halos of Candles Collide', 'Defeating the Giants', 'Illumination: The face of Shamash', 'A Greater Chain of Being'. // 8