Review by Allan on May 22, 2003.
As it is, metal from the Middle Eastern portion of the world is rarely recognized or noted. However, the metal that has come from there and managed to gain some recognition has proven to be quality time and time again. Bands such as Orphaned Land or Sleepless have acted as testaments to the claim that metal from their portion of the world is seemingly more interesting, and also more original and creative. To further emphasize that the Middle East has a relative foot in the scene’s door is Jerusalem’s Melechesh and their latest album ”Sphynx.”
Melechesh are most closely related to fellow death metallers Nile, musically, and somewhat thematically. Yet there is a fine line that keeps the two separated. Where as Nile like to fire away at full speed for the majority of the time and give the listener a runaround with their cacophony, Melechesh are much more structured and mid-paced. And that little Middle Eastern theme that Nile has going for them? Melechesh has that too, yet it is far more superior and strategically placed in the music. Instead of throwing in intense passages with authentic instruments, you can actually hear the influence in their riffs and leads. In that sense, Melechesh are a more death metal Orphaned Land than anything.
The song writing on “Sphynx” is much more structured, thus having repeating themes. You’re not stuck with a lengthy arrangement that gets too big to be successfully handled. Instead, you’ve got a stronger song. Sections will be repeated, but new ones will arise throughout the songs when needed. Another thing to be noted is Melechesh’s tendency to make use of their crushing rhythm section. Often times a part will be repeated for a long time, making room for a powerful lead guitar solo to cut through. This can no doubt be off-putting for those with a short attention span, but it usually leans towards being beneficial for Melechesh.
“Sphynx” is no doubt one of the better death metal releases for 2003. The good songwriting combined with the excellent musicianship make Melechesh a hard act to pass up. Hopefully they’ll be able to gain more recognition, seeing as they’ve got a lot to offer.
Bottom Line: Melechesh’s third and most powerful release to date. Death metal that’s interesting and not totally generic – definitely recommended.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.6 of 10