Review"Mesopotamian" black metal band Melechesh blew a lot of minds with 2006's Emissaries, so it's no wonder its follow-up The Epigenesis has been so widely anticipated after a four year wait.
The music is clearly the Israeli expats' unique brand of thrashy, Middle Eastern-inspired black metal from the get-go. Every single track has riffs inspired by the unusual combination, and it's still just as compelling as ever. There's also a great deal of traditional instrumentation, including two instrumentals which are all-traditional and several places where it's worked into metal songs.
It's also immediately apparent with the slow-paced opener that this is not the same album done over again. Where Emissaries was unrelenting, The Epigenesis is more varied and experimental. Most of the songs are slower, including the progressive title track at the end and opener "Ghouls of Nineveh", although some ("Defeating the Giants" or "Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin") are high-speed with plenty of blast beats. "The Magickan And The Drones" may be the most obviously black metal offering, with its dissonant counterpoints in the primary riff, but even it drops the blast beats and goes into a much slower section.
Ashmedi's black metal rasp is, if anything, improved from their last outing (and includes some much deeper growls here and there), and there are brief moments of clean-ish vocals as well as traditional-sounding chants.
Highlights include "Sacred Geometry" and "Grand Gathas Of Baal Sin", which shows everything the album offers in microcosm along with some bone-shattering bass drum (or possibly a larger traditional drum).
The Verdict: On the whole, the album isn't quite as good as its predecessor (the opening track is pretty boring, and a couple tracks might be longer than necessary), but it's very, very good anyway, and shows a band not content to sit back and play it safe. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.