Melechesh – “Enki” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Prepare for Sumerian Black Thrashing Metal from Jerusalem! Formed by Armenian / Assyrian guitarist / vocalist Ashmed, Melechesh is as steeped in its musical richness as that holy city which is arguably the religious center of the world and whose ancient conflicts continue to rage as if in defiance to time itself. In fact, the name Melechesh is a portmanteau of two Aramaic words meaning ‘king of fire’! Accused of ‘dark cult activities’ in the mid 90s by the Israeli authorities, and wanting more political freedom of expression, part of the band relocated to Amsterdam towards the end of the decade, but seem to record freely given “Enki”s predecessor was produced in Turkey. Strangely enough, despite all their struggles the band’s lyrics aren’t political – and intentionally so – preferring to focus instead on the darker aspects of Assyrian and Armenian mythology. Musically, Melechesh’s Middle Eastern metal style is equally diverse, melding the classic greats of European hard rock in Sabbath and metal in Slayer and Bathory along with Persian and Indian music. With a strong atmosphere of deep eastern mysticism throughout, their overall sound is close to Nile and Absu’s technical ferocity along with powerful ethnic grooves very much like Sepultura achieved in their own right on songs like ‘Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged’, ‘Metatron and Man’ and ‘Doorways to Irkala’. Trivia fans will note that Absu’s manic drummer Proscriptor was actually in the band for 6 years, so the similarities shouldn’t come as a surprise. That said, Melechesh on this 6th album has a highly evolved sound, with the epic material ranging in tempo along with tranquil passages played through traditional instruments like Buzouqs and Darbukas, but all graced by that strong eastern sound reflective of a well traveled band who embrace all but retain the deep roots from whence they came. Exotic, eastern and extreme, Melechesh will leave you touched by the sands of time themselves.