Melechesh - _Emissaries_
(Osmose Productions, 2006)
by: James Montague (8.5 out of 10)
"Your mission, should you choose to accept it..."

This was always going to be a tough one for Melechesh -- with their previous album, _Sphynx_, they had perfected the amalgamation of Middle Eastern melody and blackened thrash metal arsekicking, so they had to answer the age old dilemma: continue in the same vein and risk diminishing returns, or evolve radically and alienate the public? The band took the former option, and although _Emissaries_ can't match its predecessor, it does kick all kinds of arse in its own right.

Right off the bat, "Rebirth of the Nemesis" aims a precision blastbeat assault at the listener's throat, just to remind us that Melechesh haven't deserted their black metal roots, before settling into their signature mid-paced thrash riffs. The lead guitar bends and flexes in a nod to traditional oriental music while Ashmedi rasps out lyrics inspired by ancient Sumerian texts. Towards the end of the song we witness a new addition to the band's sound, as they indulge in choral chants that fit nicely into this world of desert warriors and serpent gods.

The blistering assault eases up from time to time in favour of a more gentle exoticism, such as the instrumental "The Scribes of Kur", played on traditional stringed instruments, flutes and hand drums. More surprising is "Gyroscope", a cover of the song by eclectic rock band The Tea Party, featuring a memorable lead melody -- like some kind of Egyptian heavy metal guitar hero.

It's hard to really pin any weaknesses on _Emissaries_, although I would guess its slight inferiority to _Sphynx_ could be explained by the production, which I find a little too treble-heavy, and the absence of Proscriptor on drums. While the new guy Xul is technically very adept, Proscriptor was a rare kind of drummer, one who really added a creative dimension and always found exactly the right fill or kick drum pattern at exactly the right time. He will be missed, especially by those like me who consider his primary band Absu vastly inferior to the mighty Melechesh.

Much better than Nile and whoever else jumped on the Egyptian / Sumerian bandwagon this week, Melechesh have produced another winner in _Emissaries_, an exotic headbanger's delight.


(article published 15/11/2006)

2/4/2007 J Smit Melechesh: Frayed Ends of Sanity
8/10/2003 A McKay Melechesh: Just to Hear What He Sphynx
8/12/2001 A Bromley Melechesh: Mesopotamian Hunger
8/31/2003 M Noll 8.5 Melechesh - Sphynx
8/12/2001 A Bromley 8 Melechesh - Djinn
7/14/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Melechesh - As Jerusalem Burns... Al'Intisar
3/28/2011 J Carbon Rotting Christ / Melechesh / Abigail Williams / Lecherous Nocturne / The Ziggurat The Gates of Sumeria
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