Melechesh – Enki (Nuclear Blast)Thursday, 19th March 2015
Israeli Middle Eastern metal purveyors Melechesh, a band known for delivering top-quality, unique Sumerian and Mesopotamian themed death/black/thrash metal return to the world’s stage with their sixth album since their inception in 1993. After a pair of highly regarded albums in 2006’s Emissaries and 2010’s The Epigenesis, Melechesh unveils a stout new work that stays within the lines while delivering the trademark goods.
Album opener “Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged” is one of the stronger tracks on the album, which also finds the band playing at their fastest, primarily at the top of the track. Blasting drums giving way to a driving death metal march, the tempo onward is largely on the more mid-tempo side of things on Enki. Third track’s “Lost Tribes” is another highlight on the record, one that features Max Cavalera on backing vocals. With a very strong title track at the middle, it is the seventh track “Doorways to Irkala”, an instrumental that is perhaps an odd fit here. Sitting second to last on the album, it’s an ethnic and traditional piece of middle eastern sounds – cool stuff and really paints a vivid picture, but it stays too long, and seems positioned strangely as the penultimate track, being such a momentum-slower.
Good songwriting and production permeate the album. Crisp drum qualities see the ride cymbal of drummer Lord Curse (who has the best name, and returns to the band after nearly twenty years) especially poignant and snappy, really boosting the accessibility of the driving grooves and hammering rhythms presented. A broad snapshot of metal here, the stuff is not particularly pegged to a genre (whether that be black, death, thrash or groove metal) save for the obvious middle eastern inflections that the band is known for, and which are to be expected. Sticking to largely solid, hefty, tried-and-true metal riffing, expertly wielded yet not really pushing any envelopes (see “Metatron and Man”) Melechesh keeps things safe, but not without precision and bite.
Enki is an album that will sit nicely in the Melechesh catalog. In time, it is doubtful to be seen as stronger material than previous releases, but this is a worthy record nonetheless.