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Melechesh : Enki : Metal albums reviews

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Melechesh : Enki, brief review

Melechesh :  Enki

Band name: Melechesh

Coming off the back of the huge critical acclaim lauded on "The Epigenesis" one might have thought that Melechesh would be overawed by the task of trying to repeat the trick but by taking their time in the release of "Enki" the consummate detail that has defined their career remains in abundance. There is so much that pleases me about the works of Ashmedi & co but high amongst those is the layering and sophisticated usage of ethnic instrumentation which never descends into the pervading mindset of most folk(-orientated) metal bands for whom a brief synth blast of pre-processed sounds is as deep as it gets. No, Melechesh are the real deal in every sense of the word and six albums in the band should be recognised as one of metal’s finest.

Nine tracks, sixty-two minutes and enough layers and hidden elements to unearth new treasures even after countless listens, "Enki" is not an album to be fully absorbed in one or two spins, nor is it one where simply listening to just one or two tracks will suffice. In fact I would go so far as to say one of the album’s lead tracks, "Multiple Truths", is one of the least involving, if for nothing else than it’s more straight-forward composition lacks the lingering sense of hidden danger round the corner…but to put this into perspective, the technical performance and intricate guitar work in this track alone still puts the band into the upper echelons of the extreme- and folk-metal worlds. For the most part, each track weaves and winds through a host of complexities and divergences such that second-guessing each oncoming section is a thankless task. After a brief welcoming, "Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged" breaks into the classic Melechesh riff, ala "Rebirth of the Nemesis”. It’s the musical equivalent of a punch in the chops as a morning alarm call and is absolutely devastating. From there the song harnesses a big thrash influence before "The Pendulum Speaks" provides the first evidence of the collective ability to competently alter the pacing of tracks. The usage of various bridges to travel through Mesopotamian influence and crunching groove-laden metal is superfluous, with each band member getting a lead moment to display their wares like a victorious archival heist through the band’s native Jerusalem.

"Lost Tribes”, featuring the vocals of Max Cavalera which contrast with Ashmedi’s more blackened howl, recalls recent Absu works in the breakdowns at each junction but to these ears the album’s progressive nature picks up through the second half, as the eight-minute tracks "Enki Divine Nature Awoken" and "Doorways to Irkala" blend Middle Eastern scales into a thumping and swirling plague of riffs in the former, while the latter is simply a beautiful percussive-led instrumental that sends my mind to the kind of ethnic, atmospheric smoke-filled tent of their descent that I have never visited. In between those two "Metatron and Man" kicks off at a real lick and hardly relents throughout - I can’t help but notice how the song’s thrash-influenced riffs kick the arse of many a thrash band of recent times without seemingly even trying to. "The Palm The Eye and Lapis Lazuli" as the shortest track at ‘just’ four minutes feels somewhat undervalued in it’s position yet features a volley of intricate soloing from Rob Caggiano (Volbeat/ex-Anthrax) that for once feels worthy of it’s involvement, while 13-minute closer "The Outsiders" moves at a slower pace for much of its duration, exploring the outer reaches of the band’s varied influences, before a latter crescendo heralded by the manic pounding of Lord Curse behind the kit.

Unfortunately I don’t have accompanying lyrics but the mythological depth of the track titles should assure any readers of Melechesh’s intelligent approach to that particular art, too. Though comparison is difficult through the sheer scale of each record, "Enki" feels as heavy on the metal guitar as any other in their discography, pushing the ethnic interludes more to the background, in contrast to where I personally would have expected the band heading at this stage of their career. That a couple of the shorter, less diverse tracks carry least weight only enhances the prowess of their more complex arrangements; a talent in the extreme metal world in which few can rival Melechesh.

Comparing this album to other works, I hear similarities to the frenetic, guitar driven onslaught of Absu. This comes as little surprise given that they are former label-mates and even briefly had Proscriptor in the band. However, Enki is emphatically more focused on folky melodies and rock and roll than pure blackened thrash. The sound is also fuller through both production choices and use of alternative instrumentation. Vocals are akin to Ghaal-era Gorgoroth, but the upbeat melodies and bouncy rhythms maintain the fury while defusing some of the evil.

But for every exciting sandstorm, there is a dull oasis on the horizon. While the album initially sucked me in with promises of an early 9, subsequent listens led to an overall deterioration of impression. Tracks like “Enki...” grind the action to a halt with unmemorable performances and uninteresting songwriting. What at first seemed hypnotizing has become a bit of an endurance run. This is especially notable given that the track is only around 9 minutes long. The closing track is far longer, whether or not you count the prior interlude, yet works infinitely better with its sense of progression and entrancing use of sitars. But the real stinker of the bunch is the collaboration with Max Cavalera, which I find to be pointless and downright annoying. He adds very little to the sound and feels tacked on. Furthermore this track offers the most repetitive and arduous hook of the album.

Final word: inconsistent. While there are some undisputed heavy-hitters on this album, extended time will reveal chinks in the scimitar-worn armor. Riffs can sound a little too similar at times from track to track and energy ebbs and flows without a clear structure. Ultimately I did go back to listen to prior releases, and I can't help but make the typical recommendation for Emmisaries. This album seems to attempt a fusion of their masterpiece's sheer adrenaline with the more wandering approach of Epigensesis. The result is more pleasurable than the latter, but falls short of the former. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see this on an end-of-year ballet.

Album: Enki, review

The bands country origin: Israel

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