Meleschesh – The Epigenesis (Nuclear Blast Records)

Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Rating: 9/10

If the band Melechesh remains an unknown quantity, than a mighty amount of shame shall be bestowed upon you. They are easily one of the most unique, powerful, and talented bands in existence. In the era of unoriginal, cookie cutter bands, Melechesh has always had their own sound and vision. Nobody sounds like Melechesh. In fact, it’s hard to really put an accurate label on their musical style. There’s a lot of black metal, some death metal, even some thrashy riffage here and there, all wrapped up in an intriguing package of Mesopotamian and Sumerian themes. You have your bands like Nile (of which I am a fan) and whatnot that are making eastern-themed music, but Melechesh are the real deal on every level. They were even the first non-Israeli band from Jerusalem who got signed to a record deal, and have been through a lot of turmoil to make their music, which is being chronicled in an documentary focusing on vocalist/guitarist Ashmedi. Their music also comes complete with usage of authentic Middle Eastern instruments, which only ups the authenticity.

So we come to today, and the band’s fifth release, The Epigenesis is upon us. Their last album, Emissaries, was masterful in every way. The critical acclaim of said album has created a noteworthy buzz and anticipation for The Epigenesis. Following up such a wonderful album is never an easy task, however, the best bands are always up to it. The album was recorded over a 100-day span in a studio in Istanbul, of which was the chosen location due to it being an inspirational part of the world. That inspiration has translated into sonic bliss with The Epigenesis, as this is a proverbial beast of an album.

The album begins with an infectious riff that is the basis of “Ghouls of Nineveh.” This song sets the tone for the album, with addicting guitar work and the aural shrieks of bandleader Ashmedi being the most prominent parts of the track. His vocals have always been a focal point of the band, and he’s really outdone himself with this one, which is a difficult proposition, considering Melechesh’s impressive catalogue.

“The Magickan and the Drones” begins more slowly, with an engrossing, slower buildup, which leads to yet more massive riffage that doesn’t quit. “When Halos of Candles Collide” is an instrumental piece that focuses heavily on the usage many instruments from the East. This is a haunting song that serves as a well-placed interlude, as to give the listener some ambiance before being crushed yet again. And true to form, the monstrous “Defeating the Giants” follows up this song. Being the shortest piece on the album – but also boasting the most straightforward attack displayed – results in an effectively compact piece. The drums are the highlight here, as they pretty much pummel you into oblivion with ease.

“A Greater Chain of Being” is another instrumental track, but is at almost seven minutes of length. It’s truly the perfect atmospheric lead-in to the last song, the twelve-minute opus of a title track. This one is about the most varied portions of the album, with a good number of tempo changes and unique twists. It’s not a speed demon like some of the aforementioned songs, but the variety of the instrumentation and immense aura that is shown is staggering. An epic ending to a near-perfect album.

The production is right where it should be – clean enough to be able to disambiguate every little nuance, but not annoyingly over polished. As mentioned previously, Ashmedi’s vocals are massive. His raspy, immensely aggressive voice is so seamless that it’s a tad frightening. Not many reach – or have the ability to reach – this sort of level. The Epigenesis is an album written and pieced together with the utmost care and precision. If only more music was given this kind of attention to detail.

Ashmedi and crew function as a finely tuned unit of which churns out metal that nobody else could. Melechesh had a tough job following up such a great release in Emissaries, and under that pressure, lesser bands have crumbled. Melechesh have risen to the occasion and graced us with a piece of music that will be cherished by those with any iota of taste. Huge, intense, and undeniably one-of-a-kind, The Epigenesis should stand the test of time and will most certainly be one of the best albums of the year. An instant purchase, my friends.

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