Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Genre: Black Metal with Middle Eastern Influences
Released: February 27, 2015
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Recent Releases
By: Kris Kotlarik
Melechesh, formerly of Israel, took a genre in black metal that had become relatively bland and decided to do something new with it by incorporating Middle Eastern themes in their instrumentation, melodies, and lyrics. As it stands, they are easily among my favorite bands of the genre, as evidenced by my declaration of Emissaries as an all-time favorite.
Enki, their first album in nearly five years, continues the band’s Middle Eastern themes of mythology. It also sees the return (at least for the studio) of Lord Curse, their original drummer. Ashmedi, who serves as the group’s frontman and has been known to play the guitar with a drumstick on occasion, explains the concept of Enki in this quirky interview.
Melechesh, at least in my opinion, is one of the best bands in metal when it comes to opening tracks. They showed it on Sphynx with “Of Mercury and Mercury,” and again on Emissaries with one of their signature tracks, “Rebirth of the Nemesis.” Amazingly, “Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged” might top both of those tracks. It takes little time (43 seconds, to be exact) to build up before activating rampage mode, subjecting the listener to a barrage of aggression spread out over a wide array of unique melodies. Just when you think the track is about to ride into anarchy, it slows down without losing its punch, throwing even more interesting melodies at you. The more I listen to it, the more I consider it a contender for my all-time favorite tracks by the band.
Of course, the problem with putting such impressive material at the beginning is the fact that the bar is set from there, and it’s hard to keep the material that strong for the rest of the album. The rest of the tracks are generally good, but don’t really come close to the opener. “Lost Tribes” features a cameo appearance from Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Killer Be Killed, Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy). My reaction to Cavalera’s vocals usually ranges from indifference to “oh hell, not this guy again.” But his contribution here is quite strong. Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) also makes an appearance on “Multiple Truths,” and although I like him and his music much more than Max’s, Sakis doesn’t stand out nearly as well in his part.
All told, my complaints with this album are relatively minor. “Metatron and Man” starts with almost the same riff as “Grand Gathas of Baal Sin,” which would have to pick a bone about if not for the fact that I love that song. “Metatron” is also one of the better tracks, especially after the midtempo tracks that preceded it. “Doorways to Irkala” continues the Melechesh tradition of putting a (long) folk instrumental somewhere other than the end of the album. This is the kind of thing that makes Strapping Young Lad look good for putting “Info Dump” at the end of Alien. This is a pleasing, mellow instrumental, but the album would have survived just fine without it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “The Outsiders” closes the album at a lengthy 12:48, and while I can see how people think this might be too long, I can’t see anything that needs to be cut from here. It only gets better (and heavier) as it progresses.
The biggest concern here might be overcompression in the mix, which takes away some of the magick. As a whole, however, this is another solid album from one of metal’s more unique bands. It may not be their best, but it is damn good. Or, as Ashmedi might say, “Sonic Magick.”
Overall: A 3.5 rating might seem low, but I would rank this below both Sphynx and The Epigenesis, both of which would likely earn 4.0’s.