Archive for the israel Category

Band Spotlight: Melechesh (Israel/Netherlands)

Posted in black metal, featured artist, israel, the netherlands, underground with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Melechesh is another of the bands I will be seeing live tomorrow night, and that I am completely stoked about. I have been a fan since Pandora randomly played them for me one fateful day, and I can’t wait to see them perform live. So without further ado…

Melechesh, which means “King of Fire” in Hebrew, got their start in the holy city of Jerusalem in 1993. Now, if you’re like me, you appreciate the irony behind a black metal band from Jerusalem. Nothing seems quite so cool to me as the thought of black metal from the Holy Land. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like I do, and according to Encyclopedia Metallum, Melechesh, due to problems with the religious authorities and with the deeply religious people of their hometown (as well as “personal and professional reasons,” of which I can’t really comment on as I know nothing about), actually packed up and moved to the Netherlands, where they currently reside. In the words of Nathan Explosion, “now that’s brutal.”

[From their first album, As Jerusalem Burns… Al’Intisar. Melechesh, from their early days, incorporated Mediterranean melodies into their black metal]

Melechesh got started in 1993, and released their demo As Jerusalem Burns… in 1995, after which they were apparently accused of alleged “dark cult activities” in Jerusalem and Bethlehem but were later cleared (NuclearBlast). Their debut came out a year later under the title As Jerusalem Burns… Al’Intisar, and contained the same tracks that appeared on the demo as well as several others (the above is one of the tracks that appeared on both). From the beginning it was clear that Melechesh would not be your typical black metal band; they call themselves “Mesopotamian metal” and incorporate a lot of Middle Eastern melodies in their work, a breath of fresh air in a black metal scene that was increasingly starting to all blend together.

[From 2001’s Djinn]

Also in 1996, the band released an EP called “The Siege of Lachish,” after which they stayed quiet for several years, not re-emerging until 2001’s Djinn, their next full length album. In this long span of no recordings, the band played several shows in the Holy Land and in 1998 relocated to the Netherlands. In 1999, Proscriptor McGovern of Absu (from Texas, like me!) joined the band on drums. 2003 saw the release of Sphynx, the cover art of which was done by a guy who does art for Star Wars (and may, perhaps, have been in the band at some point… my knowledge is scant here and I’m having trouble corroborating sources, so feel free to offer the info up if you know it. Either way, there is nothing about any of that situation that is not totally awesome). According to Nuclear Blast, Sphynx was considered one of the top 10 metal albums of the year in 2003, impressive for a band from so far underground (although not, I think, undeserved).

[This one is from Sphynx, 2003. There’s a rock beat under this one, which is cool. Layers upon layers…]

Armed with a North American/Central American distributer in The End Records, Melechesh pressed on, releasing another EP the following year called “The Ziggurat Scrolls.” Their fourth LP, Emissaries, followed in 2006. This album was the first one I heard by Melechesh, and it seems that lots of people consider it to be the pinnacle of the band’s work up to that point (Nuclear Blast). While they have continuously utilized the Mediterranean musical approaches in their scales and drum patterns, Melechesh has always remained fresh and original in their sound. They have not, then, become some kind of novelty act; with shifting tempos and original song structure, they never become boring.

[This was my first Melechesh song. It about knocked my socks off]

Melechesh’s lyrical themes center around Mesopotamian and Sumerian mythology. This focus is a nice shift away from the typical black metal lyrics, as well as fits well with the band’s musical perspective. Also, it’s complicated by the inclusion of some Sumerian symbols and deities in anti-cosmic Satanism, which is cool. I’m not claiming that’s what they are going for; I don’t actually know. However, the connection is there and is interesting.

Melechesh’s fifth full length album, The Epigenesis, came out in 2011, and they have a new EP out this year called “Mystics of the Pillar II.” You can buy their new EP in digital format right here on their official website. Other websites I plundered for the information in this write up are the Nuclear Blast webpage for Melechesh, and of course, Encyclopedia Metallum and Wikipedia. If you get a chance, I highly recommend giving Melechesh a listen. Their songs are catchy and interesting, and it is fun to hear music so radically different than traditional black metal.

[As a Renaissance geek, this title particularly appeals to me. Love the sitar and drums. From Emissaries (2011)]

For me, the best part about Melechesh is the fact that I get to see them tomorrow! I hope they have patches available; I think my battle jacket could do with a Melechesh patch (or any more patches at all! Having skimp on patch buying sucks! Oh well. Financial stability is near, just as soon as I purchase those damned MDF tickets and can stop pinching pennies). I’ll do a write up of the show at least for Sunday, if not earlier.

Stay kvlt.

-Hagalaz