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I love it when I discover new bands that make me more excited about heavy metal music, a feat I thought impossible since it’s pretty much my life’s passion. My latest find to my personal arsenal is Israel’s Melechesh, a described ‘black/death/folk’ metal outfit that offers its latest album in The Epigenesis. I familiarized myself with the band by picking up As Jerusalem Burns...Al'Intisar and Emissaries and I think I’ll be following this band more closely in the future.
I can certainly hear Middle Eastern elements in Epigenesis, yet the blackened death feel is always a constant, which is always a good thing. The opening track “Ghouls of Nineveh” really floored me with that little succession of power chords that just get your blood pumping and your neck bouncing. I also dig the vocal in that breathy rasp that makes you feel as if you’re in the presence of some spectral force that is breathing death into your ears. I can definitely hear the Middle Eastern flavor spread over the music, more evident in some spots than others, but subtle or not the band takes its roots and ancestral lineage to a brilliant height. “Grand Gathas of Baal Sin” is an unforgiving black metal tread through mires and sand-filled ruins; this song just shreds the entire mood in the room to tiny bloody scraps and keeps hitting you when you’re cowering under your rare vinyl collection. The combination of classic riffs and brutal tremolo picking sweeping over the room is enough to make even the most closed-minded fool sit up and stop crying long enough to realize what they’re hearing is just overpowering.
Keeping right in line with Emissaries this album has some really fast-paced material, and while Emissaries is a great album of technicality and style, Epigenesis seems to step up the pace even more, providing a flourish of heaviness and curt, polished songs that make Nile looks like Nickelback. The production is right in your face throughout, retaining all edginess and chaos in just the right package for total and unbridled consumption. What makes Melechesh so interesting and captivating as a unit is the total slavery to the precision chord structure; this band doesn’t shred blindly, folks, and one listen to a track like “The Magickan and the Drones” lets you know just how attentive they are to detail and creating a riff that stays in your head for hours after. The vocals, the tightness of sound and playing, the cerebral efficiency of the lyrics all make for a fine record. All underground should swallow this one whole!
These guys should be heralded all over the underground, and Epigenesis is just the latest in a strong discography. When a band this solid comes along and destroys you so perfectly, you can’t help but keep going back for more. Israel is definitely on the map!
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)