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Melechesh - "The Epigenesis" (CD)

Melechesh - "The Epigenesis" CD cover image

"The Epigenesis" track listing:

1. Ghouls of Nineveh (6:46)
2. Grand Gathas of Baal Sin (5:58)
3. Sacred Geometry (5:32)
4. The Magickan and the Drones (7:20)
5. Mystics of the Pillar (8:31)
6. When Halos of Candles Collide (instrumental) (5:39)
7. Defeating the Giants (3:26)
8. Illumination: The Face of Shamash (5:35)
9. Negative Theology (3:51)
10. A Greater Chain of Being (instrumental) (6:54)
11. The Epigenesis (12:18)

Reviewed by on February 11, 2011

"If you are a fan of metal - Motley Crue to Rotting Christ - you need more 'Sonic Magick' in your life."

Everyone has a “Favorite Somewhat Recent Album” – something that has come out in the last two or three years that is already worn out, with guitar licks, drum fills, and lyrics all memorized. My “Favorite Somewhat Recent Album” used to be Testament’s 2008 long player “The Formation of Damnation.” If I had reviewed it for Metal Underground it would have easily been a five skull affair: meatier than freshly slaughtered open range and hormone free Kobe beef cattle, more riffs than an air guitar festival, heavier than the CEO of Anvils Incorporated, and more hooks than a Captain Hook costume contest (that one was weak). It’s got everything a phenomenal metal record needs and oh so much more. But, “The Formation of Damnation” has been displaced by Melechesh’s just unbelievable long player “Epigenesis.” After long internal deliberations, it has become my first ever five skull rating for Metal Underground. Let’s explore why.

Bass: Unlike most black metal, the bass can be easily heard and plays a big part in the soundscapes. Rahm’s standard procedure is popping in and out to emphasize specific bits as the music advances and recedes. His lines are simple and melodic, and when he gives you more than a couple chord progressions, like he does on “Sacred Geometry,” grab your helmet because shit is about to get real.

Vocals: Band leader and vocalist Ashmedi is pure evil in his voice box. But not the standard “I am Satan” evil, he is more sinister and insidious – let’s call it “I am Satan’s Strategic Advisor” evil. Like the guy standing behind the throne in the shadows that has miles of withered skin hanging from his hunched skeleton, eyes that are unending pits of black, and whispers that carry the stench of death. Listening to “Ghouls of Nineveh” before bed will take you one place - Nightmare City.

Production: Dirty and raw, but it doesn’t sound like crap. Headache avoided!

Drums: Unending blast beats are two things – uncreative and annoying. Xul certainly takes his share of blast beatings, but he avoids a constant barrage to focus on diverse drumming patterns that run in lockstep with each piece. Headache avoided!

Composition and Arrangements: This is a long album - 71 minutes long to be precise - but it never gets stale. Ashmedi mixes post-metal build-and-release, black metal soundscapes, and Middle Eastern and Arabian instruments and melodies to create what the back of the booklet accurately describes as “Sonic Magick.” Some songs, “The Magickan and the Drones” for example, start off as black metal blasters but evolve into blackened prog jams. Other places he builds fury throughout, like the slow burn of “Mystics of the Pillar,” and then swaps into a disquieting instrumental sequence, in this case “When Halos of Candles Collide.” But the sinister acoustics of “When Halos of Candles Collide” never explode and we have to wait an excruciatingly tense five-plus minutes, until “Defeating the Giants” starts, to finally take a breath. This is to say nothing of the album ending double of “A Greater Chain of Being” and the title track – twenty minutes of blackened Arabian majesty.

Ashmedi and company have created a black metal masterpiece that transcends genre, style, influence, or preference. If you are a fan of metal - Motley Crue to Rotting Christ - you need more "Sonic Magick" in your life.

Highs: The last two tracks are absolutely and unbelievably phenomenal blackened “Arabian” metal

Lows: None – a perfect album has no flaws.

Bottom line: "Arabian" black metal masterpiece expands beyond genre and style – simply phenomenal metal for all tastes.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)