“What the f**k is Sumerian Black Metal?!”

  • Axl Rosenberg

Mesopotamian metalheads Melechesh manumitted maiden must-have music of the month on Monday; mobocracy materializes.

Listen: I can probably count the number of black metal bands whose work I actively listen to and enjoy on one hand. It’s not that I think that black metal is bad or whatever- it’s just usually not my cup of tea. It’s not the theatricality of the whole thing that bothers me- god knows I never had a problem with Alice Cooper or Kiss or Slipknot or Buckethead or whomever- but lyrically there’s generally nothing (for me personally) to relate to, I often find the music itself to be unnecessarily long, repetitive, and stagnant, and I understand they’ve made the prototypical death metal growl more high-pitched and nasal on purpose because they think it sounds more demonic- but I’ve never know “nasal” to be a complimentary description of anything, and these vocalists usually just sound to me as though Glen Benton either has a bad cold, or has been castrated- or both.

But Melechesh, self-annointed purveyors of “Sumerian thrashing black metal,” are a band to get excited about. Formed in Jerusalem, of all places, the band has since re-located to the Netherlands because their (allegedly) Satanic beliefs are- really, truly, totally- illegal in the Holy Land. The band’s members are Armenian, Syrian, Dutch and Ukranian, and one has to imagine that their musical and personal interests in the occult are a direct reaction to growing up in a city separated into quadrants in the middle of what is already pretty much the most disputed country in the world.

Even as Israeli expats, Melechesh’s mammoth riffs retain Middle Eastern flavors; consequently, they’re often compared to South Carolina’s legendary death metal outfit Nile, even though i) unlike Nile, they’re actually FROM the culture they’re now incorporating into their music and ii) I’ve never heard Nile do anything so easily palatable as Melechesh. In that regard, they have more in common with their Norwegian bretheren in Enslaved; it would be difficult to call a band whose music is this frantic and radio unfriendly “sell-outs,” but there’s enough relation to the basic tenents of verse-chorus-verse songwriting that they’d probably make a good starting point for anyone looking to get into black metal.

The band’s new album, EMISSARIES, drops on January 23, and is already receiving rave reviews; their excellent new single, “Rebirth of the Nemesis,” suggests that the disc just might live up to the hype. Could this be the first great album of 2007?


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