Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Melechesh: Emissaries (2006) Review

On the strength of the recommendation of a law school contemporary of mine, Metallattorney (his link is now in my sidebar), I picked up Melechesh's highly acclaimed Emissaries. I had heard of it before, but hadn't paid much attention to it until now. I'm glad I did.

This Armenian/Assyrian/Dutch quartet (originally from Israel) plays a style they call "Mesopotamian" black metal. This means they combine the usual black metal stylings with Middle Eastern elements, both musical and lyrical.

The result of this infusion of Oriental music creates a sound which is much more melodic than your usual black metal. This has two important consequences. First, though the rhythm section and vocals are 100 percent black metal, the lead guitar sounds more like thrash. This isn't too unexpected, since black metal grew out of thrash metal in the first place. The second consequence is much more surprising: Melechesh has managed to create black metal which is almost accessible, at least to anyone who's listened to more mainstream groups such as the big four.

All this about genre fusion and musicality should not detract from an important fact: This is uncompromisingly diabolical metal. With the exception of the welcome (if a bit too long) all-acoustic respite "The Scribes of Kur" at track 7, they don't let up.

It's also cleanly recorded and produced, something that may turn off a few black metal purists. But purism is sometimes just another word for stupidity. The production is excellent, except, as you might expect, you can rarely hear the bass.

The Verdict: The songs are memorable and well-written, and the performances are aggressive and full of conviction. It manages to be almost accessible--a gateway to black metal fandom for anyone who's been exposed to thrash metal--without alienating any but the most closed-minded core fans. This album is brilliant, and easily one of the top black metal albums of all time. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite black metal albums.