Melechesh - 'Emissaries'
2006/2007 (different release dates in Europe and the US, apparently)
Melechesh play Sumerian thrashing black metal. That's what their website says. To my ears, the black metal elements are not very important - more in the vocals than anything else, although the riffs do have that sonorous iteration black metal can sometimes produce. I hear as much death as black metal in the riffing, though, and left to myself I'd say they play extreme metal that favours mid-eastern scales.
And they play it bloody well. The huge riffs pull you right in on 'Rebirth Of The Nemesis', and show a band that is great at dynamics as well as heaviness, as they move between tempos and vary the arrangements, from mid-tempo interludes to full-speed havoc, complete with chants to Sumerian gods. Most of the remaining songs follow similar general principles, but the actual riffs and melodies are distinctive enough. Some stand-out tracks are a killer cover of The Tea Party's 'Gyroscope', 'The Scrbes Of Kur' an acoustic interlude that employs tradtional instruments, and the oddly grunge/punk riffing on 'Leper Jerusalem'. But these are just songs that are a bit different from the rest - and the rest is of such a uniform high quality that it's almost scary. This album has a distinct mood and atmosphere, and apart from being moshworthy, it also transports me mentally to ancient places somewhere west of the Tigris...
I'd really like to say more about this album, I'm so taken with its huge feel, the mammoth riffing, that amazing feel and the great songwriting, but if I go on nattering away in this vein this whole thing is going to seem embarassing.
The Eiderdown-Stuffing Bottomline: This is not Egyptian death metal. Not a Nile-alike but a very compelling album with a unique and engrossing sound. I like a bit of that mid-eastern shimmy in my rock, and in my metal too, if I can get it. This one's a keeper, and I'm going to go find the previous album, 'Sphynx' next.