posted on 11/2010 By:
Although it’s not as prevalent as, say, three years ago, melding Middle-Eastern influences into metal can still throw an invigorating and potent twist into a well-worn style of music. Where Melechesh is concerned, those exotic, sometimes erotic sounds are part of their souls, and pump like blood through their veins to the point where it would probably be impossible to fully exorcise that particular aesthetic from their music. And why would they want to? This has always been an exciting band to behold; there’s life history worthy of a documentary, as well as a seemingly bottomless well of technical and songwriting talent that has shone like a beacon for three straight albums. Djinn, Sphynx, and Emissaries all contain some of the most blistering blackened thrash you‘ll ever hear, but the sudden left turn Melechesh has taken on The Epigenesis leaves a bit to be desired, and I can’t help but wonder why this happened.
The first and most noticeable difference is a lessening of overall speed, a trait this act has always excelled at. Those skillful and wildly intricate tremolo licks have been replaced with more spacious, meticulous riffs that, more often than not, have a scant build or release of energy. By crafting much less dynamically structured songs, they’ve strayed away from the strengths that made them so captivating and unique in the first place.
This lack of firepower is even more surprising when the tempo does finally get ratcheted up to a rare breakneck pace, like on killer tune “Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin” where the drums finally come to life and create a much more intense mood than what lead-off track “Ghouls Of Nineveh” has to offer. The contrast is glaring at times, in fact. Lacking in vibrancy, and often too drawn out for their own good, the songs that last five minutes or more (eight out of the ten) tend to drift into meandering territories that have never been heard before by this band and don’t suit them in the least. For the first time ever, I had a hard time concentrating on what was going on for more than half of this release, even more surprising when they let their more purely ethnic moments take center stage as a diversion from the mid-paced method of delivery explored during the majority of The Epigenesis. Even the exotic passages of “When Halos Of Candles Collide” and "The Greater Chain Of Being" seem rather tame and understated compared to past works.
What saves this album from being entirely mundane is the actual quality of the music as a whole. Even at their least impacting, Melechesh is still a formidable force to reckon with, and when compared to lesser bands, they continue to run circles around any generic death or black metal groups I can think of off-hand. This is one of those discs that, if you had no prior exposure to the band's music, would probably impress the living shit out of you. It is good, but nothing far beyond that, and from a band that, up to this point, has only unleashed sheer excellence, it’s a letdown.
Granted, some of the tunes really do grow on you. For instance “The Magickan And The Drones” volleys a few very cool main riffs, along with a lively drum pattern that provides some seriously vital assistance when it comes to energy, and the first 1:38 of “Mystics Of The Pillar” is simply awesome, despite dragging somewhat in other places along its eight-plus minute running length. The short-and-sweet wave of classic, searing Melechesh is welcomed on the brief “Defeating The Giants”, a tune juxtaposed with slower, yet equally maddening riffs and fire-breathing vocals from Ashmedi, and parts of “Illumination- The Face Of Shamash” undoubtedly comes the closest to capturing the essential genius of Sphynx.
All is not lost, though. Not even close. The Epigenesis is still a respectable effort that takes chances and tries to break a self-imposed mold. Some moments are far better than others, and sections of individual tunes resemble each other a little too closely, which has also never happened before. I still greatly admire what this band has accomplished, and this isn’t crap by any stretch, but in the end it simply doesn’t quite match up to their earlier, hungrier releases.
Register to post comments.