Melechesh – Emissaries – 4/5
An artist that in reality deserved to be given attention far quicker than it was; performing what can only be described as a unique take on the extreme side of the metal spectrum, neither suited to be called ‘black’ or ‘death’ but rather an interesting collage of influences that go together to ultimately form another category entirely. With blackened growls, the occasional chanted vocals and crunchy and bombastic yet often tremolo picked guitar lines, what sets them apart is their strong middle-eastern influences, running right down to the core of the composition that denies any apt comparisons to be drawn.
The vocals at times feel a little thin, and whilst fitting to the track often lack a certain power; there is a potential for a wild ‘flailing’ energy, frantically vying for control over the torrent of guitars but whether due to being too far in the mix, or too warm a production, the result feels all too content and comfortable in the manner they are performed. The drumming too suffers from perhaps being too far back in the end result, clearly capable of a variety of styles, at times emerging in a primal manner, his reluctance to revert to more standard styles of beat patterns continues to shape the unconventional tone they have created.
It is the guitar work that draws the most attention in this line up, lending a unique tone though the use of the uncommonly utilised phrygian scale, playing to the style of riffs that this allows to be created like few artists seem to be capable of achieving. Neither straying entirely into use of tremolo riffs nor those that are more bombastic in a deathly manner, constantly providing an addictive melody that defies both titles; this is the main element that provides their draw, allowing them to convey their unique folk influences in a manner that feels integral to the piece without alienating themselves from the extreme metal spectrum.
Usually I must confess to being a fan of the more overt style of folk, filled with violins, accordions and all manner of bouncy folk-like melodies, but they have succeeded in conveying their influences without resorting to gratuitous layers of unusual instrumentation. Instead, it forms the structural basis for the composition of each track, constantly present, rather than as a gimmick to be attached at the end. The warm production at times feels as though it is robbing it of its dissonant aggression, detracting from the contrast between the pacing of certain passages, and whilst there was a distinct lack of variation throughout the album, is worth looking at simply for its unique hybrid of styles that fits together seamlessly to result in an album not quite like any other.
Highlights: Rebirth of the Nemesis, Deluge of Delusional Dreams, The Scribes of Kur