Melechesh | ‘Emissaries’
Melechesh are a band that can be relied upon, and even trusted, to produce albums of character and creative vigour.
Not for them the yearly treadmill of releases that differ little from each other, and less still the rest of the scene: rather, they are one of a handful of bands still pursuing a definite and single minded artistic end, and using some seriously spell weaving extreme metal to do so.
Their two previous releases, ‘Djinn’ and 2003’s incredible ‘Sphynx’ have shown the band to be an almost hidden jewel, given all the more mystique by their geographical distance and exotic otherness.
‘Emissaries’ betters both, and shows a band maturing to the point of near brilliance.
You’ll rarely hear such a strong opening, as ‘Rebirth Of The Nemesis’ scorches past in a scintillating fury of blastbeats and white heat.
Better than that though is the consistency of great songwriting, which is assured and confident in slowing down to classic heavy metal paces to take on that fantastic Orphaned Land Eastern melodic groove and invention.
Just check out the gobsmackingly brilliant lead lick in ‘Gyroscope’ for an example of how Melechesh inhabit that great extreme metal niche where the song is still the law, amidst the flurry of intensity that characterises the rest of the album.
‘Ladders To Sumeria’ and ‘Leper Jerusalem’ incorporate the Near Eastern feel perfectly into midpaced and thrashier forms, using what sound at times like Arabic traditional dance motifs to spice the otherwise rumbling solidity.
Elsewhere, the meditative (and admittedly now ubiquitous) sitar based droner ‘Scribes Of Kur’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Trial of The Bow album, giving breath to what is otherwise a densely packed workout.
Though the last two albums have featured Absu’s brilliantly madcap Proscriptor on drums, he is notably missed here.
Not because the drumming is in any way below par – if anything the accomplished opposite is the case- but because the delicious unpredictability he lends to his work would have sent this album over the edge.
It’s a minor gripe though, and the mark of a band with unique character and approach are all over this record.
What initially seems a direct and straightforward, if of course unorthodox album, rapidly reveals itself as a layered opus with great attention to detail.
It is in such detail – the dancing rhythms, the Eastern ‘Ho!’s, the occasional tablas, in short the authenticity of it – that the real magic of this album is to be found. Bands of real character are perilously scarce.
The peril however is yours, should you ignore this heady and intoxicating Mesopotamian delicacy of extreme metal.
4.7 / 5 – Earl Grey::: 12/10/06