6/20/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Melechesh - Emissaries - 2006 - Osmone Productions
And soon, it would not come as a surprise to see Melechesh added to that list. Between the remarkable success of Osmose’s promotion and the inherent qualities of the band itself, Melechesh have received vociferous praise from all quarters and now rival Impaled Nazarene as the biggest—or at least hottest—band currently signed to the label. 2003’s ‘Sphynx’, featuring Proscriptor of Absu on drums, opened the door by piquing the interest of the metal community and press alike. In 2006, the response to their most recent album, ‘Emissaries’, has blown that door off its hinges.
‘Emissaries’ finds the band developing the style they began to explore more fully on ‘Sphynx’. Quick and clever riffing, appropriately blackened and developing vocals from Ashmendi, along with Xul’s debut behind the kit all contribute to this album being their most consistent to date. Particularly with its prudent usage of deep, clean male group vocals to support a chorus and a developing sense of structural dynamics, it is clear that Melechesh have matured significantly since ‘Sphynx’, which itself was far from amateur.
Yet, not entirely perfect, ‘Emissaries’ does lose half a step towards its end, most likely due to a pair of instrumentals, one of which is nearly seven minutes long. Although both are initially interesting, the first stretches on for too long and the second is simply unnecessary, and once the 7:20 long final opus comes around the album’s edge is beginning to dull. However, considering how frequently thrash-oriented bands lose their appeal after only the first couple songs, the staying power of ‘Emissaries’ is exceptional.
And speaking of genre. Melechesh have on occasion been tagged as a black metal band, or even a blackened death band—which may have been true earlier in their career—but ‘Sphynx’ and particularly ‘Emissaries’ have rather conclusively shown them to be closer to thrash metal than death or even the black metal of their roots.
The reasoning for this is simple and comes down to the band’s use of guitar. By now most fans are familiar with Melechesh’s patent approximation of Middle-Eastern scales and melodic forms, which are ubiquitous throughout ‘Emissaries’, but that mode is not what defines their genre. It is instead Melechesh’ attitude; their vibe, so to speak. In the hands of Ashmendi and Moloch, the guitar does not act as a razorblade as it would for black metal, nor a maul as it would for many death metal bands. Instead, for Melechesh, the guitar is an axe, and an axe in the truly ‘metal’ sense of the word. Like true thrashers, Melechesh embrace the fact that their music is rooted in rock ‘n roll and that their riffs can simultaneously be sinister and ass-kickin’.
For the sake of comparison, it’s worth mentioning that another band with this same understanding of their music was The Crown. Now, while Melechesh may not presently measure up to those Swedes’ tremendous legacy, if they keep turning out work as flavorful as ‘Emissaries’, major labels will soon be lining up around the block to pluck them from Osmose’s grasp. Happy hunting.
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