Album Review: MELECHESH Enki
Having been in and around the music business for quite some time, I understand how difficult it can be to separate a band, their story, their legacy and their music from each other to glean some truth about the piece you presently get to witness. Melechesh exemplifies this dilemma due to their engaging backstory and cultural influence that infuses itself into their very being beginning with their name translated from Hebrew to mean King of Fire or Fiery King which ever sounds more brutal.
Setting aside the fact that they were one of the first non-Israeli bands signed from the Middle East, with their foundations in geographic and religious history, Melechesh have triumphed musically to attain their own particular style and sound without sounding niche or trite. Many other acts from the region shove their influence into their style like some terrible pun, using typical archetypes and instrumentation to get their point across. You know, “we’re from India so we have to have a sitar in the band to make sure everyone knows. “
Melechesh bring a much more subtle approach; Enki utilizes all of those tools in their writing, incorporated in such a way that you can hear a difference to their song structure but it does not overwhelm you. It slowly squeezes you and pushes you to find out more of what they are writing about, read the lyric sheets and discover the mythology on the god Enki and what his role plays in history and ultimatelythis. The Sumerian patron god of the city of Eridu, and deity of water, crafts, mischief and creation provides a vast platform for which to springboard on this record.
Even without all of this background on the elements of the subject matter on Enki, the album simply destroys. Five years after their last release, and several line up shuffles leaving Ashmedi the only founding member, then to ultimately bring back core members Moloch on guitar and Lord Curse on the drums turned out to be a great move. Whether it invigorated their intensity or inspired them to reach deep and find a new breath of life, they have compiled one of their best releases to date.
Sweeping guitar harmonies, thunderous pounding rhythms punctuate a serpentine vocal attack… yet that is a simple overview, the details are what set it off. The album begins gently with two guitars lulling you into a relaxed state until 45 seconds later, when the hammer falls with a wicked blackened metal riff that relentlessly consumes all of your attention and grips you into the record. With no pause between tracks they each seem to stack upon one another, providing some ebb and flow with gritty grindy bits in some songs and breaking into sensuous grooves deep within others. Even enlisting legendary vocalist Max Cavalera into their song "Lost Tribes" refused to seem forced, he blending naturally into the fabric of Melechesh.
I don’t want to break it down song by song, but truthfully this record spun non stop since I had it in my possession. Seamlessly incorporating Middle Eastern chord structures into a decidedly black/death metal structure, and taking liberties with groovy riffs on songs like “Metatron and Man” leaves you wondering how no band forged this sound before. Although their story engages your interest, and thematically could present a distraction, they create a perfect mixture of Mesopotamian culture, history and metal like no other band will ever be able to match. The distance between it and their last album The Epigenesis reflected not only by the time it took to release it but how Enki stands head and shoulders above what Melechesh has written in their past.