Melechesh - Sphynx
Osmose Productions
Black Mesopotamian Metal
10 songs (63:03)
Release year: 2003
Melechesh, Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Jason

Rising from the ashes of ancient Mesopotamia, Melechesh have once again come to unleash their magick on the world in the form of an album; the second one on Osmose productions to date. Sphynx, the follow-up to the powerful Djinn, follows the same stylistic pattern of its predecessors and blasts the listener’s ears with raw aggressive black metal that draws upon Middle Eastern/Assyrian/Mesopotamian/Babylonian influences. For those of you not familiar with the quartet that call themselves Melechesh, here’s a little short history lesson: Oddly enough, the band originally had formed in the holy city of Bethlehem around 1993. They later ran into legal complications with authorities and were accused in engaging in “alleged dark activities”. Things were cleared up a few years later after the band relocated to northern Europe. In 1999, the band welcomed the prominent Texas Black Metal drummer Proscriptor (ABSU), who eventually turned into a full-fledged member. Why the history lesson? Not only do I find it interesting that a band of this sort managed to immerge from a politically unstable and religiously stern country, but I also believe that it helps understand the musical experience.

I have to admit that I had trouble digesting this album after the first listen. I had put it on in my car on the way to the city and didn’t pay much attention, so my initial perception was that this was a Nile influenced band only with raspy vocals and off-beat drumming. After looking into the bands history, and then giving it a second, careful listen, I was blown off my chair. What I had streaming out of my speakers was a wealth of raw, technical Black Metal combined heavy Middle Eastern riffs and Proscriptor’s absolutely stellar drum work. It’s no surprise that Proscriptor had been offered to tryout for Slayer, as throughout this album his talent shines by effortlessly changing up beats with surgical precision, fiddling constantly with his cymbals and destroying his double pedals at mind boggling speeds. The drumming truly compliments the fantastic guitar work which is handled by Moloch and Ashmedi, who is also the responsible for the hair-raising raspy vocals.

“Of Mercury and Mercury” debuts this Mesopotamian metal experience with its fiery drums and low heavy guitars. The lengthy track is one of the more mediocre on the album as it seems to drag near the end with a never ending guitar verse that is complimented with a Middle Eastern styled solo. Though the solo is pretty good, it doesn’t quite manage to cover up for that last verse that seems never-ending. What really grabbed my attention was the fourth track titled “Apkallu Counsel” that hooks you with a chaotic drum solo that is suddenly interrupted by some slow paced, soulful guitar work.

The best song on this album, hands down, would have to be “Triangular Tattvic Fire”, which is covered from beginning to end with hooks and beats that are perfect to break your neck to. The drumming style awesomely sounds like something similar to what would be played with ancient percussion instruments (which are actually used at some points of the album), and when Moloch shrieks “HERE WE GO AGAIN!!” you can’t help but bob your head to the almost groovy beat. The instrumental tracks on this album add to authentic Mesopotamian feeling, but especially in “The Arrival Ritual”, which is an eerie and ambient tune where the traditional instruments are used.

Though it took a few listens to dissect and really get into this album, I have to admit this is some really great Black Metal whose Mesopotamian sound really puts it over the top. Great sound quality, authentic feeling, stellar drum and guitar work… what more do you want?

So if you like Black Metal, save up three or four hours of that minimum wage salary and buy this album, it won’t go wasted.

Killing Songs :
Secrets of Sumerian Sphynxology, Apkallu Councel, Triangular Tattvic Fire, The Arrival Ritual
Jason quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Melechesh that we have reviewed:
Melechesh - Enki reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Melechesh - The Epigenesis reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
Melechesh - Emissaries reviewed by Ross and quoted 95 / 100
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