Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
A quick trawl of Melechesh frontman, Ashmedi's Facebook wall is all that's required to give you a sense of the dedication lavished on the band by their vocal legion of fans. From one sad individual's hissy fit at another's friendly banter about the length of time it has taken Ashmedi to deliver a successor to 2006's stellar EMISSARIES, to the unabashed nut-hugging going on elsewhere on this and other online forums, it's clear that Melechesh are a band with "best kept secret" slapped all over them. Their recent defection to Nuclear Blast is bound to change that though as they are now substantially more exposed to the same crowd who devour every Dimmu Borgir release like the morbidly obese do McDonalds.
Of course what these newcomers to the party are likely to find is a significantly more complex and involving proposition than much of what they might be used to, and not least of all because of the pervading Middle Eastern influence coursing through THE EPIGENESIS. That's certainly as much of a draw as it's ever been, and is used to particularly stunning effect on "Ghouls of Ninevah". But the real strength of Melechech has always been Ashmedi's uncanny ability to subtly overlay several different dynamics until he has formed a sonic wall dense enough to melt your brain, and he is in fine form here. With drummer Xul's flamboyance scaled back significantly, THE EPIGENESIS dances to a comparatively even-keeled tempo, thrusting Ashmedi's core songwriting prowess into the spotlight more than it's ever been. That's fine too, because it gives the stark atmospheres and devastating collage of riffs chance to work their black magic that much more - which they do powerfully on "Mystics of the Pillar" and "Defeating the Giants".
That Melechesh are able to maintain the album's early momentum through to the record’s dying moments makes what they have achieved with THE EPIGENESIS that much more remarkable. Unlike so much of what passes for modern-day extremity, every one of this disc's eleven tracks bristles with its own identity and design. It will demand a lot of attention - this definitely isn't the record to whip out at your next kegger - but the rewards far outweigh the investment.
Absolutely superb in every way.