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Melechesh - "Enki" (CD)

Melechesh - "Enki" CD cover image

"Enki" track listing:

1. Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged
2. The Pendulum Speaks
3. Lost Tribes
4. Multiple Truths
5. Enki - Divine Nature Awoken
6. Metatron and Man
7. The Palm the Eye and Lapis Lazuli
8. Doorways to Irkala
9. The Outsiders

Reviewed by on February 24, 2015

"...it seems unlikely there will be an album that's either more aggressive or more imminently listenable than 'Enki' anytime in the near future."

Melechesh goes for broke on “Enki,” an album that's absolutely pummeling and all-consuming from the get-go, but still maintains a strong atmosphere and a sense of melody. Going on five years since previous album “The Epigenesis,” it seems like these Sumerian thrashers don't mind waiting long stretches between releases. That wait was well worth it, because it also seems unlikely there will be an album that's either more aggressive or more imminently listenable than “Enki” anytime in the near future.

It's the balance between black metal and thrash that really makes “Enki” such a strong release. The vocals and atmosphere will satisfy the black metal fans, while the breakneck pace of the shredding guitars offers what the thrash crowd craves. It almost seems like the mix shouldn't work, considering the two worlds are on opposite ends of the metal spectrum, but the match is executed perfectly here, meaning the music never gets boring and almost never lets up its brutal, two-pronged assault.

For those familiar with the band's musical and geographic roots, it should come as no surprise that traditional Middle Eastern sounds do make an occasional appearance, like with the sitar plucking during the opening of “Enki Divine Nature Awoken.” The sitar chords are then repeated by distorted guitars, providing both sides of the equation and showing how the differences between musical genres perhaps aren't as far apart as people think. “The Palm The Eye And Lapus Lazuli” is another track that does a stellar job of meshing those opposing forces together.

There are plenty of highlights across the album, from “Multiple Truths” kicking off with a simply killer riff to “Metatron and Man” changing focus and leaning more heavily towards the thrash side with its fast pacing. Even though the instrumentation of the album is focused on blistering thrash, there's actually a lot going on musically underneath with some fairly complex passages and time signatures. “Enki” is one of those rare albums worth listening through multiple times to pick things out that's not a prog or symphonic metal release.

“Doorways To Irkala” is the odd duck of the album, consisting entirely of oriental ethnic string and wind sounds. It's a nice interlude, but at 8 minutes it seems likely many a metal head will lose patience by the end. Halfway through its run time, the track drops the other elements and switches to a Kabuki theater style drum beat. A listener will definitely get the impression there should be white painted Asian puppets dancing on a stage to the music. The only other real downside to be found here is the overly long ending track, as the 6:45 – 8:30 segment simply has too much going on and just ends up a maelstrom of clashing noise that could have been cut entirely.

On the whole, “Enki” is a stellar release because of how it uses classic and familiar sounds from two of metal's most cherished styles, but fuses them together into something different. Black metal colliding with more a more high octane genre is definitely a recipe for success, and Melechesh's Middle Eastern / Oriental extras are just the cherry on top.

Highs: High octane thrash meets extreme black metal, and it works very well.

Lows: The ending track goes on too long for its own good, and the interlude track may also overstay its welcome for some.

Bottom line: Why choose between black metal and thrash when you can have both?

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)