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Founded by a young guitarist named Ashmedi in the city of Jerusalem back in `93, Melechesh have always been a visionary band. Melting raw black metal with Mediterranean drum patterns and guitar scales resulted in a phenomenal and unique sound that is all their own. This interesting band has brought a new dynamic to extreme metal as fans and critics clamored for more. Ashmedi seized this opportunity and now writes autobiographical stories for magazines worldwide (Decibel in the US) and has a documentary about his life as well! This multidimensional aspect is characteristic for a band that constantly seeks to explore the many facets of the subgenre it forged within the extreme metal scene. Preferring quality to quantity, musical honesty over trends, Melechesh are answering a call. Amongst other surprises on this album, The Epigenesis incorporates more organic elements, subtly integrating traditional instruments (such as yayli tanbur, Azeri Tar, baglama saz, Indian sitar and Persian santur) and 12-string guitars while still leaving room for improvisations that channel the inspiring aura of Istanbul, a city that has always been a melting point for cultures and the crossroads of east and west, much like The Epigenesis itself.
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Epigenesis has top notch production, but is not as intense as Emissaries and not as cohesive in the sense I described above. It has a straight ahead feel about it, a lot of catchy grooves, the trademark atmosphere but it's kind of simplistic (for Melechesh) and doesn't have the fierce dynamism and frenetic style that made their other stuff so appealing to me.
If it did have that intensity and immediacy of their last albums along with the leitmotifs and atmosphere on Epigenesis this would've been an astounding album. Oh, and the new drummer has filled Proscriptor's place well.
It's a good Melechesh album but I feel it could've been better-something on par with Behemoth's newest one. Hopefully next time!
Its always a bit difficult to describe the unique and interesting style in which Melechesh play. On this album in particular they have shed quite a few of the remaining Black Metal passages from their sound and presented an album that is distinctly Melechesh. In a lot of ways it may be their least extreme and most blast-free record to date, with a greater emphasis on instrumental passages and grooves as well as an absolutely top notch production job and mix. The songs largely revolve around big fat grooves and adventurous song structuring but give way to blistering Thrash passages now and again to keep the energy levels up.
In the past I've heard the band called all sorts of things online and in print, from Black Metal, to Technical Thrash, to Groove Metal, to Melodic Death Metal, to Folk Metal, to Progressive Metal. No one label really suits the band as they can mix all of those things in an album and often in a single song. On this album in particular they've really blended everything down into one, and used that to inform the whole song writing process. Its less of a bit of Prog here and a bit of Thrash here, a bit of Black over there. Now, they just write Melechesh-sounding music all the way through, and luckily it really, really works.
As usual, they have a heck of a lot of technical sections in odd time signatures but they are not afraid to just slam away with some powerful Thrash for a while either. They incorporate Folk influences from their own culture, but that's not really "the point" of the songs either. They lapse into slow, heavy grooves and apply pinch harmonics certainly, but its only ever one string to their multifaceted bow, and while the vocals can be reminiscent of Black Metal at times, the riffs aren't really oppressive or icy sounding.
Lyrically, as usual, the band have their unique selling point in the form of singing about interesting historical and fictional things from their own culture (Sumerian/ Assyrian/ Mesopotamian folklore). It gives the listener an interesting perspective, and variety from all the usual gore or biblical stuff.
Don't worry too much about "what" they play however. Whatever it is, they play it brilliantly. Melechesh are just a really unique, incredibly interesting and talented band, that come out with some very enjoyable music that covers a lot of ground within the Metal spectrum and this album in particular is a culmination of all the experimentation and improvements that the band have developed over their career. It is a potential-filler. It's a promise-fulfiller. It is the refinement and perfection of over a decade of brilliant ideas. It is a straight-up masterpiece that just gets better with each listen.
The Epigenesis, like each album the band have released to date, expands the band's horizons and without loosing their core sound, improving with each new record into their collage of different Metallic styles. There are more of the band's trademark evil-sounding folk moments and sound effects (in this case `When halos Of Candles Collide' and `Greater Chain Of Being). Like the two records which preceded it, The Epigenesis is an incredibly instant album, that grabs your attention right away but that has so many great little touches and hidden depths that you can listen to it over and over again and like it more every single time. If you are already a fan of the band this will doubtlessly delight you and if you aren't yet it will surely make you one.
Highlights include the groovy opener `Ghouls Of Nineveh,' the ridiculously catchy and bouncy `Sacred Geometry' (that riff is massive!) and the rolling, hypnotic, album-closing Title Track. That being said its an absolutely rock solid album all the way through, and nothing's worth skipping at all (unless the quiet Eastern numbers aren't your cup of tea). Basically; if you want creative memorable riffs, powerful technical drumming and a distinct flavour that separates it from the crowd, this is something should consider trying.
Overall; Melechesch are a superb and talented band with a hell of a lot to offer. If you like Extreme Metal they'll feel like a breath of fresh air and if you don't they are still somehow strangely accessible and manage to write such catchy and enjoyable music that it never feels too dense or challenging. The Epigensis is definitely one of the finest records that the band have released to date. I highly recommend you give it a try if the band appeals to you at all.