Sunday, 8 March 2015

Melechech - 'Enki' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/02/2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

‘Enki’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged 6:32
2. The Pendulum Speaks 4:18
3. Lost Tribes 6:17
4. Multiple Truths 5:07
5. Enki Divine Nature Awoken 8:38
6. Metatron and Man 6:32
7. The Palm The Eye and Lapis Lazuli 4:08
8. Doorways to Irkala 8:00
9. The Outsiders 12:48

Melechesch are:

Ashmedi | vocals & guitar
Scorpios | bass
Moloch | guitar
Lord Curse| drums


Album number six from these Assyrian authors of Mesopotamian metal. There are middle eastern inflections aplenty in this stellar production. ‘Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged’ sets a furious pace with spoken word sections and rhythmical ride work over the blast beats. The track settles into more palatable tempos. The vocals take on the traditional black metal screech for most of the track after the swirling intro. This is superior stuff. Much like Winterfylleth make a virtue and feature of Englishness, Melechesh use their heritage and conjure up perfectly desert sounds, and the swirling nature of sand storms and so on. This is black metal, but with more weighty riffs and some real heft to some of the passages- it goes far beyond fast picked noise.

‘The Pendulum Speaks’ has a lovely guitar interplay opening with more imaginative cymbal work abounding too- great sound. It is closer to a “traditional song structure” clocking in at four and a bit minutes. ‘Lost Tribes’ follows with all the drama that the title implies. The band is positively rocking on this one- heads will bang, that's for sure. The riffs are full of twists and turns, but they still manage to be easy to follow too. There are some Maiden-esque passages here and there along with much weightier fare. This is a ripper of a track and very, very metal. It is refreshing to hear a unique band with their own take on a sub-genre. I have not heard Melechesh before, but I guarantee that I will be listening to this a lot over the next year. Their back catalogue will most likely get explored too. The riffs are very heavy, the musicianship is advanced and the whole productions screams quality. The time changes come thick and fast on this one, add in some nifty lead breaks in the latter third and you have a complete metal package.

‘Multiple Truths’ starts with a purposeful groove instead of relying on blasting extremity. The band mixes sub-genres well throughout the record. It is undoubtedly black metal, but there are many elements of thrash, trad and death metal present here too.

‘Enki Divine Nature Awoken’ follows with an Eastern intro (very well mixed) that is then taken over by a tension building section before returning before the track gets going with odd time signatures. The vocals use some good production tricks (the high/low double track etc) to add texture, while the track progresses with layering of guitars and some memorable riffing. My knowledge of Sumerian mythology is negligible, so I rely on Wikipedia to tell me that Enki is one of the Sumerian gods- of water and other things. Enki was later known as Ea. Is this anything to do with the “Ea” of  “Ea- Lord of The Depths” from Burzum's fist record? Quite possibly, but that requires more internet research than I have time for at the moment. That said, I like my history and mythology, so will delve into that later. Again- this is a plus point for me as the record has depth to its content and rather unique selling point. Excellent!

‘Metatron and Man’ features some speedy riffing sections and blasting which makes for more traditionally recognisable black metal. There are some great changes here and a lovely frantic riff section before the two minute mark (good use of hi-hat syncopation!). The blasting does not stay in place for long and does not overwhelm the record either- it is measured and never needlessly extreme. Again, the strong riffs shine through on this- something that not all black metal bands can claim.

‘The Palm The Eye and Lapis Lazuli’. Reviewing this is becoming a history/mythology research project at this point! Well, this one takes in precious stone amongst other things and is most definitely something to explore further. I think the subject matter here warrants a physical purchase of this record to get the full benefit- CD or vinyl... but I hope it has a lyric sheet. This track is fantastic- great riffs and leads, lovely drumming. A stand out.

‘Doorways to Irkala’ is eight minutes of middle eastern atmosphere. I don't know what instruments are on there (beyond percussion!) but it is totally in keeping with the rest of the record and sets the stage perfectly for the close to thirteen minutes of ‘The Outsiders’ which closes out this impressively self assured record. The track starts with a mid paced groove and bass slides but then takes you on a real journey. The music builds up towards the verses through a couple of changes. The pace is steady for much of the track as the band makes use of dynamics, different percussive approaches and riff changes to progress the track, while keeping a central theme. Things change in the final third as things ultimately release in a cathartic blast of manic energy. Things slow right down for the brief outro. With that the record is over.

I have to say, this is one of the most impressive and unusual albums I have heard in while. Black metal with a twist and this is essential listening for those that like the genre and are open to bands who are not from Norway. Expect a year end list appearance from this one. A superb album of depth and power.

Words by: Richard Maw

You can pick a copy of ‘Enki’ here

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