ATF Review: Melechesh – Emissaries

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Genre: Black metal with oriental elements
Released: October 30, 2006
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – All Time Favorites

By: Kris Kotlarik

Emissaries is the first of several albums that will be featured here in which my favorite song by that artist is not included. That distinction, in Melechesh’s case, goes to “Of Mercury And Mercury” off of Sphynx. Be that as it may, the reason why this album trumps Sphynx is because it is an absolute all-around gem with many different styles on display to great effect throughout the album.

Melechesh started out in Israel, but moved to the Netherlands in part because of their first full album, As Jerusalem Burns…Al’Intisar, as well as its preceding demo, which naturally pissed off the city’s religious authorities who didn’t understand the album’s metaphorical intentions. Many Melechesh songs contain lyrical references to ancient Middle Eastern mythology, and Emissaries provides a sterling example of intelligent songwriting in black metal.

I’ve ranted several times about here about pointless album introductions, and “Rebirth Of The Nemesis” turns the stereotypical intro on its head with blast beats and a rocking riff leading the way, stretching almost two minutes. There’s another stellar riff in the bridge that repeats itself several times, and I can’t get enough of it. “Touching The Spheres Of Sephiroth” is an incredible, all-out aggressive track with a solid lead towards the end. “Sand Grain Universe” starts with a soaring series of chords before giving way to near-chaos. The rest of the song isn’t as heavy as the two aforementioned tracks, but is still an excellent listen.

Two tracks, “Leper Jerusalem” and the popular live staple “Ladders To Sumeria,” contain infectious guitar melodies that should be enjoyable for those who may not necessarily be into black metal. “Deluge Of Delusional Dreams” is a little uneven, partially by design since it is split into two “acts.” The second act is superior, but that doesn’t take much away from the first, which boasts a strong intro.

Melechesh is also unique for its inclination to include a lengthy instrumental on most of their albums. These instrumentals are not metal in any capacity, and “The Scribes Of Kur” is no exception, making excellent use of various Middle Eastern instruments. It’s the kind of song that one could zone out and meditate to. The bonus track, “Extemporized Opthalmic Release,” is a slightly heavier instrumental (basically a jam session) but also makes for easy listening.

The three songs I haven’t mentioned, “Gyroscope,” “Double Helixed Sceptre,” and “Emissaries And The Mysterium Magnum,” are all solid in their own right. Although it loses some of its punch in the middle, Emissaries still makes for some fantastic listening and should be considered essential for anyone who has a fascination for either Middle Eastern melodies or black metal with clear production. In terms of the way they sound, Melechesh is in a world all their own, and this is their magnum opus.

Overall: As quoted from “Touching The Spheres Of Sephiroth,” Emissaries  is the “foundation of all, the Tree of Life” when it comes to black metal. 

Rating: 4.5*

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