Friday, August 3, 2012

Melechesh - The Epigenesis

Melechesh is one of Israel’s biggest metal bands. If you’re a fan of Skeletonwitch or Goatwhore, I would HIGHLY recommend reading this review because you’re in for quite the thrash black treat. I discovered this record early this year through my favorite record label, Nuclear Blast. Having confidence that the label wouldn’t put out a poor record, I decided to give The Epigenesis a listen. Before I found this album, I was positive that Nile was the only Ancient Egyptian-themed extreme metal band, but obviously I was wrong. But unlike Nile, Melechesh doesn’t exactly put as much focus on the mythology part of their music. Melechesh has a wider range of topics that can go as far as having a science fiction view on Egyptian-based Satanism with songs like Grand Gathas of Baal Sin and Sacred Geometry As well as that, you can also find topics of anger towards the corrupt state of Israel and the Middle East in the lyrics. But I’m not really one that likes to pay attention to lyrical themes; it’s all about the music for me.

Melechesh implements more thrash metal into their music than most thrash black bands. Either that or they just took out the melodic and atmospheric aspect that comes with the black metal sound like Marduk and Behemoth have done. But UNLIKE Marduk and Behemoth, they haven’t filled up the hole where the melodic element used to be with speed and brutality; they just leave it barren and empty. Obviously taking a considerable amount of influence from Nile, you can hear those weird Egyptian harmonizations in the guitars every once in a while. Here’s the thing, remember that Nile is a brutal death band, not black metal, so those ambient chords aren’t played in the same fashion. Melechesh place those chords in the thrash metal section, where they’re played in a sort of 90’s hard rock styled progression.

Here’s another thing that will cause to refer me back to Nile: singing. Those Whom the Gods Detest was released one year before The Epigenesis, which means it was possibly during the writing process of the record. I know that Melechesh had some singing in the album before this one, but it’s not buried by the distorted guitars and black metal vocals like in that one. In Sacred Geometry, you get to hear singing that is very crisp and that is obviously wanted to be heard because it stands at the front of the line. There’s nothing wrong with the singing at all, but the sound of his voice doesn’t fit the music at all and actually distracts the listener (not good).

The overall song structure tends to fall apart towards the end of each song. It seems that the band had their creative juices flowing at full-blast for about 80-90% of every song, but then came to the point where they were out of ideas…but they forgot to cap-off the end of each track. In other words, the songs are fantastic but with weak endings. Here’s something that ALL good musicians know: the most important parts of ANY song is the BEGINNING and the END. If you have a weak song, but a very solid beginning and a memorable conclusion, it’ll make it MUCH harder for the listener (with the exception of critics like myself) to notice any negatives and much easier to forget the bad parts. It’s not covering up, but if there’s potential for fuck ups during songs when playing live, as long as the intro and the end of the song are as tight as a baby’s ass, it won’t sound NEARLY as bad.

The end of each song seems to just drag on and grow monotonous VERY quickly. Yes, I can hear that in many of the songs, the band takes a guitar riff from earlier in the song and simply plays it again at the end. But for me, in black metal, I like to hear a completely new section that was crafted specifically for the end of that particular song; it makes it sound like the band cares THAT much more about their music. But then again, sometimes it is in fact the best idea to go back to the intro riff or something like that at the end because it can still sound extremely epic (depending on the riff, of course).

There isn’t much that I can think of to say about the individual members. The drummer is fantastic and was obviously built to be a thrash metal drummer, the guitarists and bassist stay VERY tight with the drummer. The vocalist isn’t THE BEST black metal vocalist that I’ve ever heard, but he fits the music. His screams are pretty weak and have an emotionless and dry sound that doesn’t bring up the music to that extra height. Having some of the old-school thrash sound in the black metal base sounds like it could have been inspired by Goatwhore (for this album in particular). I would give this album 12/20 for being good and solid, but not completely satisfying.