Melechesh - Emissaries
Osmose Productions
Mesopotamian Black Thrashing Metal
10 songs (52:02)
Release year: 2006
Melechesh, Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Ross
Album of the month
Right, let’s get all the Melechech misconceptions out of the way first! They are not Israeli and none of the band members are Israeli nationals. The ethnicity of the band is: Armenian/Assyrian - Ashmedi (guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards); Assyrian – Moloch (guitar); Ukrainian – Al’ Hazred (bass, vocals, keyboards); Dutch – Xul (drums). There are also the unknowing amongst you who are of the belief that Melechesh’s music has Ancient Egyptian Mythological themes. As a band who proudly call themselves ‘Mesopotamian Black Thrashing Metal, their interests lie a couple of countries further east. Mesopotamia is the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates with Sameria to the south. This area has thousands of years of history, legend and myths that inspire the songs of Melechesh and Emissaries is their fourth the full length album telling of Mesopotamian and Sumerian mysticism, spells and folklore.

Rebirth Of The Nemesis blasts off Emissaries with longer than normal intro of multiple parts each of differing beats and tempos but meshing with each other extremely well. The into builds up until, what has been dubbed, ‘The Melechesh Shuffle’ kicks in. To understand the Melechesh Shuffle think walking along with the beat keeping time with your steps; now give a little bounce with every step, kinda like lefteft, rightite, lefteft, rightite… Crank up your mp3 player, jam in your ear buds and you will find yourself doing the Melechesh Shuffle without even realising it. Ashmedi’s vocals come in around the same time and their harsh, tortured texture are just ideal for this music. The beat and tempo rise and fall throughout the track, Ashmedi’s vocals build up into a soaring crescendo, Xul lets loose with the blastbeats before coming down to some chanting and back to the Melechesh shuffle. All through the track, the sound of Arabia ebbs and flows throughout letting you know exactly where it’s all coming from. A ripping track that almost had me reaching for the repeat button on first listen.

Ladders To Sumeria kinda eases the pace down a notch but most certainly doesn’t ease up on the brutality. The riff comes tearing at you, backed by some machine gun bass drumming underlining the ferocity. The riff actually changes on the second half of the song becoming more melodic but just as fierce. Deluge Of Delusional Dreams has probably the best intro of the entire album. A hyper speed open string/fret/open string… riff that is jawdroppingly awesome. This track is in two acts; Act 1 Cast Tempest From The East instrumentally has more in common with Rock and Punk, particularly the drumming, than Black Metal; Act 2 Enlil’s Retaliation explodes in your face after a break that extends just that beat or two longer that anticipated. This Act has a frenzied structure of fast riffs, blastbeats, machine gun double bass stopping and starting at strange intervals; very un-nerving! Keeping you un-nerved, Touching The Spheres of Sephiroth is super-speed thrash underscored with an Arabian melody that will shred your underwear into the middle of next week. There is a lull in the middle of the track where you would expect a tempo/time change; but never expect anything with Melechesh, they rarely play to the same arrangement in any of their songs, and every one has its own certain uniqueness.

Having never heard the original version of Gyroscope I can’t tell you what differences they have made from the original, but with the Arabian underscore it would be a safe bet to say that Toronto experimentalists The Tea Party would be hard pressed to recognise their song. At the start here is an excellent bass riff filled pause then one guitar then the other comes in, Xul rattles round the kit then it kinda looses some of its punch. On its own it would be a killer track but, unfortunately, because it is in the middle of nine other mind-blowingly awesome tracks it doesn’t quite make the grade. However, Double Helixed Sceptre soon gets everything back into gear. A ping on the ride cymbal, a haunting, muddied guitar sounding like it’s coming from next door playing in your left ear, soon joined by a clear guitar in your right, some alternate left and right before it all comes together for what could be the heaviest and most brutal riff of the album. Double Helixed Sceptre has also one of the strangest time signatures on the album; it could be a 4 /4 but they add a beat of two in every now and then so you have to restart your head-banging pattern again. Double Helixed Sceptre sounds like brutal technical Arabian Death Metal with Black Metal vocals and some Sumerian chants included to give it that ancient mythological atmosphere.

Fill up your hookah with your favourite Lebanese, Syrian or Moroccan herbal tobacco spark up and get ready to chill Arabian style with the instrumental The Scribes Of Kur. This track is the real Mesopotamian deal with authentic ethnic instruments like the two stringed Arab Buzuk, could be the Turkish Saz or Armenian Tar playing along as well; Durbukka drums and either the Mizmar or Ney woodwind pipes, maybe both. There also sounds like some fuzzy synth/keys sweeping groove amongst some other stuff that could be natural or synthetic, it doesn’t really matter as it all works well enough to take your mind off to a land of scorching deserts, cooling oasis shade, hot mistral winds, camel trains and bazaars; definitely some magick and sorcery weaving its way through this track. The Scribes Of Kur also like an interlude before Melechesh change gear into something a bit more Rock Heavy. Leper Jerusalem’s guitar intro is part Grunge, part Punk with a Darkthrone influence which carries on through the song mixing with the Melechesh Shuffle now and then. An unexpected lighter track amongst the angst laden darkness.

Sand Grain Universe has perhaps some of the fastest double bass drumming on the whole album and is accompanied by a killer riff and Ashmedi’s face tearing vocals making this a truely stand out track; with the Buzuk part towards the end adding just the right touch of Arabian melody. The final track Emissaries And The Mysterium Magnum is, in my opinion, a strange choice for the ending of an album chock full of lightning speed drumming, mind blowing shredding, thrash riffs by the boatload and Ashmedi’s tortured vocals trying to rip you a new one. Now we have the slowest, doom laden song bringing it all to a close; yet somehow it hooks you and reels you in. Could it be some ancient hypnotic spell song with a chant-like riff that inveigles its way into the dark recesses of your mind? Whatever, it may be a strange ending but definitely one that’s going to get you reaching for the repeat button.

The fact that Emissaries is such a stunning album is due to the tenacity of Ashmedi. He got himself so worked up during the creation of the album that his doctor recommended he see a psychiatrist. The fact that the first time the album was mixed, the producer made a complete hash of it even lying to the band telling them they hadn’t played a certain guitar part or drum part when they knew for a fact that they had played them. Eventually, they had it remixed and reworked by a young sound engineer called Dennis Koehne whose talents have made Emissaries Melechesh’s most powerful record to date. I did everything ass-backwards when researching stuff for this review like listening to Emissaries first then working back through Sphynx, Djinn then As Jerusalem Burns. Djinn is where Melechesh bring the Mesopotamian element into their music; As Jerusalem Burns is more or less an all out Black Metal composition. Sphynx took the Arabian / Mesopotamian influences that little bit further but kept plenty of Blackness. Emissaries has it all; the Mesopotamian / Sumerian / Arabian influences; the Blackness; the speed of Thrash and it’s delivered with a power to leave you drained, yet wanting more!

Emissaries has been out in Europe for some time now and is getting rave reviews in all the online and hard copy magazines. At the time of writing (end Jan 07), the album will go on sale in the States. I have no doubt that once again, like what happened when I reviewed Ajdath’s - Triangle Of Death there will be comments comparing them to Nile. So I will try to explain again: Nile is an American band that plays Death Metal influenced, mostly lyrically, by Ancient Egyptian Mythology. Ashmedi, Melechesh’s chief songwriter and musical director takes music from the homeland of his ancestors and adapts it to their style of Mesopotamian Black Thrashing Metal. To ensure everything is just so, Ashmedi even writes the drum parts to make sure they ‘Fit’ with the Mesopotamian musical groove. Ashmedi reckons that 98% of the drumming you hear is all down to him. It’s because of his total involvement in this that many won’t even notice that Xul is a new drummer; replacing Proscriptor. Did you know that Xul is derived from the Sumerian for evil and that the name is the reverse for light in Latin (Lux) Now the band all live near each other in the Netherlands they can get more rehearsals and practices in; if Emissaries is a result of that then that was a damn good move. Hopefully it will see them touring more as well as Proscriptor living in the States kinda put the knockers on that slightly. But I digress. Emissaries - an album no discerning Metalhead should be without and one that will be on my playlist and in my MP3 player for some time to come!
Killing Songs :
All of them!!
Ross quoted 95 / 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 - Sphynx reviewed by Jason and quoted 87 / 100
13 readers voted
Your quote was: 96.
Change your vote

There are 25 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:55 am
View and Post comments