Ashmedi Of Sumerian Metallers Melechesh Discusses New Album "The Epigenesis"
Sumerian-themed blackened metallers Melechesh launched "The Epigenesis" last month, which is their latest exploration of occult oriented extreme metal. Front man Ashmedi recently discussed the new album with me, explaining how everything from the lyrics to the guitar riffs to the promo shots are interconnected and chosen specifically to be in alignment. Ashmedi also recently posted a track-by-track breakdown online of the new album, which can be seen at the following links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
Talking about how the songs flow, Ashmedi commented, "It’s not afraid to step out of the box in the sense that every song stands alone, just like a good healthy rock album or metal album." He also discussed the possibility of an upcoming music video and where the band will be touring in support of the new album.
xFiruath: Let’s get into the new album “The Epigenesis.” What’s going on with this album and what’s changed in the music?
Ashmedi: It’s a multi-layered album and it represents Melechesh in 2010. It took us almost four years to write. It’s very diverse. You’ve got songs at four minutes and then another song that’s 12 minutes. It’s a brave album, not in the sense that it’s experimental at all, and actually I’ll retract that. It’s not brave, it’s a confident album. It’s not afraid to step out of the box in the sense that every song stands alone, just like a good healthy rock album or metal album. It’s all very streamlined.
xFiruath: How do you guys put together any given song?
Ashmedi: That’s why it takes four years. I write the majority of the music and Moloch also delivers some of the riffs, and when he does they are very good. I feel a lot of comfort composing the guitar riffs and trying to make a song out of it to make a whole picture. I have to have a scenario or an image in my mind, and then after that we start working on the singing. It’s an issue of feeling and logic. Maybe there’s also some illogic as well. It’s just hard work, and the thing is we don’t recreate, we create. We don’t follow, we lead within our own music. There are no benchmarks. That’s a challenge, but in the end what the listener gets is a credible extreme metal album. Nothing experimental, nothing outlandish, just an original, yet acceptable, extreme metal album.
xFiruath: The new album was recorded in a studio in Turkey. How did the recording sessions go?
Ashmedi: It’s a very unique situation. We went to the grand old city of Istanbul. It’s a city where east and west meet and collide. It’s a city which is literally on two continents, the Asian continent and the European continent. It’s one of my favorite spots to sit and relax and jam. You sit down and you’re looking at the Asian continent just a few miles away with just water in between. They have a long tradition of rock music since the ’60s. They invented a sound called Anatolian rock. The city is also very heavy metal. There are lots of heavy metal bars and cafes and shops. It’s never been done that a band living in the west flies to an eastern location to record. If anything, it happens the other way around. We were offered to record in Sweden, Norway, Germany, but we said “let’s take a risk. Let’s try a place that represents our music, both east and west,” and it kind of worked out.
xFiruath: What do the lyrics cover in the album and how do they tie in with the artwork?
Ashmedi: Everything ties in together 100%. Even the photo shoot, there is symbolism there. We deal with near eastern/middle eastern mysticism and there are so many sects or religions or peoples or cultures there that till today you’ve never heard of. We’re still discovering there are people who have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, but there’s just a few thousand of them left. I myself am an Armenian-Assyrian. Assyrians are also a people whose basic ancestry is in Mesopotamia, and we deal with Mesopotamian mythology with a twist. There’s Sumerian mythology and occult and mysticism. The lyrics deal with that in a personal way that I try to put in double meanings. Things that relate to today as well as things of ancient times, and encourages the listener not to be a robot or a drone. To question everything and to step out of the box, so the lyrics are very important and they are very much tied in with the tones of the guitars and the atmosphere of the songs, and with the artwork, which is a representation of the lyrics.
xFiruath: Will we be seeing any music videos going along with these songs?
Ashmedi: Yeah, actually, absolutely. In between interviews I was just on email regarding that. I think in the next four to six weeks we’ll be filming a video clip. Were looking into a locations, but it’s a bit complicated. Some of the places we want to go to are just so far out that you need security, you need the right weather conditions. There are so many elements working against that, so we are trying to find other locations or maybe we’ll just do it in a studio. That’s something we’re discussing right now. We will do a video clip and were trying not to rely on a green screen. We want to make it as organic as the album.
xFiruath: Where are you guys heading out on tour to support “The Epigenesis?”
Ashmedi: We’re going to play a lot. Early December we’ll have something called Awakening the Giants. That will be our first performances with the new material. It’s going to be in celebration of the new album and we’ll be in Europe for four or five days with a very special set. In January we’re going to have a month long tour with special guests Nile, and that will be in Europe. It’s a match made in heaven, or hell, or whatever you want. It’s amazing, as soon as it got announced, people were like “Finally, yes!” Nile and Melechesh on tour together, that’s supposed to happen. After that we’re going to come with this great band called Rotting Christ and we’ll come to the states. We’re going to tour the U.S. in I think March and April, and we really look forward to that because we have a soft spot for the states. My guitar player lives there and I used to live there for awhile. We’re very excited about that.
xFiruath: What bands are landing in your own personal rotation?
Ashmedi: I spend most of my time dealing with Melechesh and its management. It’s writing the music, it’s caring for its image, its caring for the booking, its caring for the logistics and merchandise and everything from A to Z, so it takes a lot of my time. But in my own time, I listen to a lot of stuff. I listen to psychedelic ‘70s rock to Indian Raga with the sitar. I listen to hard rock and heavy metal and extreme metal. Some jazz and blues. I’m very open minded musically, but at heart we’re metal heads. It’s seasonal sometimes. We’ll go into this heavy metal period and then sometimes it’s ambient and spiritual eastern music.
xFiruath: What else is going on in the world of Melechesh and Ashmedi?
Ashmedi: There’s a documentary about me, and I don’t know what’s happening with that. Also, I write my monthly blog with my biography, I was requested to do that in Germany and then it was published in the U.S.A. in Decibel. It’s basically my life biography, not in full detail, but in quite some detail, because there are so many misconceptions about me. Now I’m being offered to make it a book, but I don’t know if I’m going to do that yet.
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