By Allan Grusie
Melechesh originally hail from Jerusalem, Israel and have the distinction of being one of the very first bands from the Middle East to achieve international exposure. The band is based in Europe now, thanks to various pressures caused by religion. Of course, being a black metal band doesn’t help. Epigenesis was recorded in Istanbul, Turkey and is the band’s first with the esteemed Nuclear blast label.
The band was founded by guitarist Ashmedi, and Epigenesis finds his writing skills again at the forefront as writer or co-writer on all tracks. Musically, Melechesh melds traditional black metal crust with exotic Middle Eastern rhythm and instrumentation to come up with a sound that is very unique. Without any keyboards, the tracks are powerful and epic. If you were to look at a comparison point (or ‘recommended if you like’) you could say that Satyricon, Immortal and Nile all would be valid. But again, the twist here is the use of alternate instrumentation and beats. The baglama saz (stringed instrument loosely in the guitar family), Indian sitar, and a variety of percussive instruments are all melded into the song structures to massive effect.
One of the roles of music is to transport the listener to another place. On Epigenesis you could literally pick any track, close your eyes and be transported to the Mediterranean/Middle East just by subtle musical nuance. There are two instrumentals on the album which clearly are capable of transporting the listener.
Not to fear, though, this album is also aggressive, and crushingly heavy when it needs to be, so it certainly holds enough diversity to make everyone happy.