MELECHESH’S ASHMEDI: THE METALSUCKS E-MAIL INTERVIEW
Melechesh‘s excellent new album, The Epigenesis, is mere weeks away from its October 26 release in the States (those lucky Europeans already have it), and while it’s been more than three years since the band’s last release, Emissaries, I’m happy to report that the wait was totally worth it. The Epigenesis feels like Melechesh’s most diverse and complete album yet, and a firm reminder of why this band manages to stay consistently interesting while so many other black metal bands fall into redundancies and self-parody.
I recently had the chance to e-mail some questions to Ashmedi, Melechesh’s founder and creative mastermind. After the jump, read his thoughts on the themes and meanings of The Epigenesis, how recording in Istanbul influenced the album, why we had to wait so darn long for new a new Melechesh offering, and more.
It’s been almost three years since Emissaries. Why did it take so long to make the new album?
Well, we have been busy with touring and live appreances, and we took our time. I write the majority of the material, so it takes awhile. We as music listeners have been conditioned to expect a CD every one or two years, but I don’t think it’s a rule. I also believe this time lag helped the band to create songs that are very diverse, while still sounding like Melechesh.
Did you have a specific vision for The Epigenesis going into the process, or is the shape of the album, its themes, etc., more something you “discovered” along the way?
There was a lot of soul searching… I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true! So Emissaries was done, it was a big hit… what next?!? A few sleepless nights, tons of booze, and then I had to say, “Okay, just write music.” The musical character is always Melechesh, so no worries there. Time enabled the music to be comprehensive. I gues the common denominator was to keep it metal — headbanging, yet spiritual and ritualistic, and, above all else, CREDIBLE. It did materialize as such.
According to a recent interview in Decibel, you actually had two albums’ worth of material before recording The Epigenesis. Will any of that other material see the light of day at some point?
Decibel had a lot of inside info because [writer] Chris Dick spent a lot of time with us in the studio. He’s a great fella and we got along well. And, yes, we had lots of material. I think some of it will materialize in the near future. The last half year before recording, the band was on turbo creative high. What more can a musician ask for?
Without using the words “heavier” or “better,” what do you think differentiates The Epigenesis from previous Melechesh albums?
Thank you! We also refuse to use those terms… so typical! it is not for us to say this is our best album… but I can assure you it is a very accomplished and confident album. It also is multi-faceted! And every organic. Anyone with half a brain can hear the production and recognize this. Even the effects were hand made!
There are multiple meanings of the word “epigenesis.” So, in the most blunt terms possible: What does the title mean to you? How does it relate to the themes and concepts behind the album?
Well, “the epigenesis” means spiritual growth and aiming to attain enlightenment. We relate to this term spiritually and pragmatically — the band is growing, and as embers we all seek enlightenment… Why not? Beats ignorance! Whether or not we will achieve this enlightenment remains to be seen.
You seem to record every album at a different studio in a different city in a different country. Is there a reason you don’t stay put for multiple albums? Does the change of scenery have any effect on the creative process? How, if at all, did recording in Istanbul effect the creation of The Epigenesis?
One common denominator is that we record all our albums on plant earth. What I am trying to say is that this world is not as big as many seem to think. We’ve recorded in Jerusalem, Germany, Holland, and Sweden. This album, we were offered the chance to record in Norway, Sweden, the UK, the USA, and Germany… but we felt that recording in Istanbul would be adequate. It was a risk, but hey, not taking a risk is, in fact, the biggest risk of all! And it paid-off big time! The place is so dynamic… Istanbul is where east and west meet, and they have a long tradition of eastern-sounding rock music called “Anatolian Rock.” In fact, one of the pioneers of this genre from back in the 60’s played on our album — Mr. Cahit Berkay of the band Mogollar.
How, if at all, has the addition of Rahm influenced the band and, more specifically, the creation of this album?
Rahm is a great guy. Musically, it did not have much of an effect, as the songs are mainly written by myself and Moloch. Morally, however, it worked out fine. He creates a good vibe for the band.
You guys have done a lot to create your sound and make sure you stand out from other black metal bands. Are there are any young bands out there right now that you think are doing the same?
I personally listen to diverse types of music, so I don’t follow what happens… Yes, I am first and foremost a metal head — have no doubt about that. I do hear and get demos of many younger bands that have been influenced by us… it’s great.
What can fans expect on your upcoming U.S. tour in terms of the amount of new material vs. the amount of older material?
It is a hard thing indeed. We haven’t really toured the U.S., so we have an obligation to try to perform as many diverse songs as possible. We probably will dedicate half the set to The Epigenesis, while the other half will be divided up for the other songs.