Saturday, May 14, 2011

Album of the Year: 2010 - #6

Melechesh - The Epigenesis

From the opening minutes of "Ghouls of Nineveh" it is obvious that this is going to be a fairly different album from Melechesh's brilliant 2006 album, Emissaries. Rather than the unrelenting black metal of their prior work, The Epigenesis slows the pace down a bit and comes off as quite a bit more experimental. The guitar work overall is excellent and extremely catchy - though you may note that the overall "Middle Eastern" feel has been toned down a fair amount from prior albums. The Phrygian scales and traditional chants still make fairly frequent appearances, but are not nearly so prevalent and ingrained as they have been in the past. Milder Middle East flavor or not, the sound is distinctively Melechesh. The fibers of Sumerian soundscapes and modern metal grooves are masterfully intertwined throughout, resulting in by far the most varied experience from this band to date.

Now, I can see where some "purists" would consider this new direction a step down - certainly, the music has been taken down a notch when it comes to intensity. But where a step may have been taken back there, I feel that it is more than made up for by the massive steps forward in diversity and overall artistry. Besides these, this album also shows marked improvement in the vocal and production departments for the band. The blackened rasps sound fuller and more powerful than ever - whether this is truly advancement by the vocalist or a product of the superior production quality is not entirely clear. The production job here is damn near perfect, clear and crisp with plenty of organic "thud" remaining (the drums sound particularly good). At 70+ minutes long, this might be a bit much to digest in one sitting - but trust me, you want to sample all of what is available here.

Best Track: Sacred Geometry
Rating: 9/10

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