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Review: Melechesh - Sphynx

Label: Osmose Productions
Year released: 2003
Duration: 67:48
Tracks: 11
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: March 30, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 4.78/5 (95.64%) (55 Votes)

Wow. I have been hearing good things about this band, and I have to say they are waaaaay underrated even with the praise they have been getting. Originally from Israel, Melechesh had to leave the country when their music became offensive to the oppressive religious majority in that pimple of a nation. Thus establishing Melechesh enough "tr00" cred to see them through their entire careers, no doubt.

Originally a norsecorey Black Metal band, Melechesh showed tremendous evolution on their much-lauded "Djinn" album. While that CD was still firmly in the Black Metal camp it pulled in a lot of other influences and had a unique sound of it's own. Well "Sphynx" sounds remarkably different from "Djinn", but is just as good, if not a little better. Here Melechesh have moved pretty strongly beyond the confines of pure BM to create a sound that is still extreme, and still consistent with their old material, and yet is light years ahead of anything else they have released. Here they wield a fatter, more stripped down guitar tone than before, and they also play more direct riffs. The whole is a throwback to the days of old Mayhem with the growling, stark riffs, and yet Melechesh have kept the complexity of their old songwriting, and lost only a bit of the mideast sounds that defined "Djinn". Here Melechesh have managed to create something new and unheard in extreme music, not with some tacked-on gimmick, but by sheer songwriting ability.

All these songs rule, from the blaring riffery of the opener, through the hypnotic tour-de-force of "Annunaki's Golden Throne" to the mesmeric "Caravans To Ur" there is not a single weak track. All the songs sport enough riffs to stock most entire albums, and they never let up with the intensity or hooks. Rare for anything like this to be memorable right off, but these tunes will grab you right away. The guys in Melechesh are very tight and skilled musicians, and they wring out some awesome atonal leads. Proscriptor's drumming is superlative, and it is amazing to me that this is the same guy responsible for the pot-lid hammering on "Third Storm Of Cythraul" – the man simply rules, and he has written lyrics as good as Melechesh did them before, but even more complex and arcane. How many people even know about the Annunaki, let alone could write a song about them?

This is about as perfect an album as you are likely to hear in extreme metal. Melechesh are not Death, not Black, they are their own thing: Melechesh. Nothing else sounds like it, nothing else comes close. This is a CD I have been unable to keep out of my player since I got it, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon. A classy and addictive album of metal alchemy. For fans of Black or Death Metal this is an essential purchase, one of 2003's very best.

Other related information on the site
Review: As Jerusalem Burns… Al'Intisar (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Djinn (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Emissaries (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Enki (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Sphynx (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: The Epigenesis (reviewed by MetalMike)
Interview with vocalist and guitarist Ashmedi on August 2, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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