Released: 2004, Olympic Recordings
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Let me start by saying I had not heard of Melechesh before listening to this CD. Before hearing a note, I wrote them off as Nile clones with all the Egyptian imagery and song titles, but Melechesh are nothing like Nile. SPHYNX is based on Egyptian themes but the resemblance stops there. Melechesh, who hail from Israel, plays metal in the vein of blackened thrash more than the heavy death of Nile. Not only that, the music has a Middle Eastern flavor which really makes listening to SPHYNX a unique experience. Ashmedi’s vocals are the typical shriek, but with a snarling sound reminiscent of KILLING IS MY BUSINESS…AND BUSINESS IS GOOD!-era Dave Mustaine at times. Absu drummer, Proscriptor, has been brought into the fold and his presence is quickly felt on SPHYNX. Production is done by Andy LaRocque, who you will recognize as the long-time guitarist from King Diamond’s band.
“Annunaki’s Golden Thrones” is one of the best tracks on SPHYNX. The song contains some amazing double-bass work and cool riffs and goes from brutally fast to a much slower tempo near the end of the track. “Apkallu Councel” has a great intro that builds to a crescendo and finally unleash into a furious pace led by Proscriptor’s massive beats. “Trianagular Tattvic Fire” and “Incendium Between Mirage And Time” bring some more Middle Eastern influences in but the riffs on these tracks are incredible. Some really interesting guitarwork is done and it sounds like some of their native Israeli instruments were used, as well. The two instrumental tracks are especially noteworthy because the instrumentation and song structure are extremely well done. “The Arrival Ritual” has some strange percussion and stringed guitars that make this track a real standout. The band is able to display their musical talents and bring them to the forefront on the instrumentals and not only are they excellent at the traditional metal instruments but they are no slouches on the Middle Eastern ones either. The CD also has a bonus track, “Babylon Fell,” which is a cover of the Celtic Frost track from 1987’s INTO THE PANDEMONIUM.
SPHYNX comes with an enhanced portion containing wallpapers, lyrics, photos, liner notes and a nice glossary of terms that explains, among other things, the different Middle Eastern instruments the band uses. What is a Daff? How about a Darbukka? Pop in the CD to find out!! The video for “Genies, Sorcerers and Mesopotamian Nights” from the band’s 2001 CD, DJINN, is also included.
If the superior quality of the music just isn’t enough to shell out for this CD, the multimedia portion should seal the deal. Melechesh is a rare breed in metal these days, not only because they are from Israel, but because they are trying something fresh. SPHYNX is different, but in a good way. Give it a shot.
KILLER KUTS: “Annunaki’s Golden Thrones,” “Apkallu Councel,” “Trianagular Tattvic Fire,” “Incendium Between Mirage And Time”