Archive for melechesh

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Covers

Posted in black metal, covers, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

So I’ve been planning on doing a thing on black metal cover songs for a long time but never got around to it, and by this point I’m sure there are some on my original mental list that have slipped my mind. But here is at least part one (there’s no Bathory on here, for starters. Mainly because I’d have done Emperor’s cover of A Fine Day To Die but I wanted to do the Mercyful Fate cover).

My personal favorite covers tend to be those in which a band puts their own spin on the original, incorporating new sounds into an old song, so that’s what I’ve tried to stick with here. And so without further ado, some personal favorite black metal covers of mine in random order!

Emperor – Gypsy (Mercyful Fate cover)

I remember reading in The Slayer Mag Diaries that Metalion didn’t like this cover, I think because of what Emperor did with the keyboards. But the added keyboards give the song that symphonic and majestic feel that is distinctly Emperor, laid over the straightforward, traditional metal of Mercyful Fate, and personally, I think that’s what makes it fantastic. Well, that and Ihsahn singing falsetto.

 

Watain – Watain (VON cover)

HERE IS. WHERE HE KILLS. Watain’s cover of the song from which they took their name is great fun, not least of all because Von sounds absolutely nothing like Watain has ever sounded a day in their lives. It’s always a good time to hear a band play something completely out of their ordinary style, and I’m less likely to get all whimsical and teary-eyed like I do when Watain covers Dissection.

 

Shining – I Nattens Timma (Landberk cover)

By all means, if you do not know Landberk’s original of I nattens timma, you ought to get out there and listen to it. It is, I think, actually creepier than Shining’s cover, with a more music-box feel to it and creepy flutes. However much I really like the original, though, I absolutely adore Shining’s version, which is how I fell in love with Niklas Kvarforth’s clean singing voice.

 

Dissection – Elisabeth Bathory (Tormentor cover)

There is literally nothing about Dissection covering Tormentor that isn’t cool. Of course, Jon Nödtveidt will never sound like Attila in the opening voice over, and Dissection’s approach to the song is, unsurprisingly, not as atmospheric or low-fi as the original. But rest assured, they’ve certainly Swedish-ized it, and only in the best possible way.

 

Thorns – Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times (Emperor cover)

Thorns’ cover of Emperor’s Cosmic Keys is totally weird, and completely wonderful. It’s all the Emperor riffs you love, but slowed down to doom speeds and with a spoken-word voice over rather than the shrieks of the original. Slow-building and immensely heavy with a steady, almost tribal-sounding drum beat in the background, Thorns’ creepy, apocalyptic-feeling approach to the track is proof of how lucky we are that Samoth and Snorre were kicking around in the same prison for a bit.

 

Agalloch – Kneel to the Cross (Sol Invictus cover)

I remember seeing Agalloch play this live and being shell-shocked, because at the time I hadn’t heard the original, but I had studied medieval lyric poetry, and all I could think of was this. Anyway. That’s weird. Both versions are fantastic, of course, but it’s interesting how Agalloch’s blackened version seeps the hopefulness out of the original.

 

Melechesh – Babylon Fell (Celtic Frost cover)

Melechesh’s cover of Babylon Fell adds a Mediterranean flair to Celtic Frost’s blistering original. The drums in particular are really cool on this track, with the syncopated drumbeat shifting slightly away from the original. Likewise, they use several different vocal techniques, making for some interesting layering (I am, unsurprisingly partial to the shrieks). And of course, there’s some sitar in there as well, lending this cover an Eastern feel that complements the title and lyrics.

 

Dimmu Borgir – Burn in Hell (Twisted Sister cover)

Okay, so this is once again me posting Dimmu post-them being acceptable to a lot of black metal people, but once again, I don’t care. They covered Twisted Sister, and Burn in Hell at that, and it’s fun as shit, and ICS Vortex is as on par here as he ever is.

 

Limbonic Art – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Mayhem cover)

Limbonic Art’s symphonic take on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is super cool- the vocals are inspired by Attila’s while still having an original flair to them, and the added keyboards give the song an eerie, almost gothic effect, complementing the original beautifully while still maintaining its own sound.

 

Celtic Frost – In the Chapel, In the Moonlight (Dean Martin cover)

I didn’t realize that this song was a cover until just recently. Now that I realize that it’s not only a cover, but a Dean Martin song, I find that not only awesome but also hilarious. This can also go into the list of Totally Metal Songs to Play at Your Wedding, which is now also going to be a list because I just thought of it. Celtic Frost also definitely put their own spin on this one, considering that it, uh, does not sound like Dean Martin.

 

So there you go! That’s a start of a list, at least, and probably needs more added to it, so don’t be surprised if there’s a part two lurking in the future. I’m working up a review of the Metal Threat Fest Warm-Up Show with Destroyer 666 (!) as well as some other things, but the posts might be more sporadic over the next couple of weeks while I finish up the summer session of school.

Until then,

H

 

 

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Hagalaz’ Favorite Albums of 2015

Posted in 2015, best of, black metal, doom, doom metal, drone metal, finland, funeral doom, marduk, melechesh, orthodox black metal, sweden, traditional heavy metal, war metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2016 by blackmetallurgy

The other day, I was thinking of catch-up posts I needed to do and I thought, “Oh! I’ll do a post about my favorite albums of 2015!” I didn’t plan on it needing to be ten or eleven like I normally do because… it’s almost six months late, so why do you care? But then, lo, there were that many, so the list is eleven after all.

So without further ado, in mostly random order, my favorites of 2015.

11. Ghost – Meliora

After the huge fanfare for Infestissumam (and there was a lot of it. Remember when Ghost released those sex toys?), there was practically none for its follow-up. Really. I didn’t even know this album was out until about a week after it dropped, and I worked at a metal record store. Meliora feels like a throwback in a way; it’s more stripped down in the way that Opus Eponymous was, and I dare say a little heavier than its predecessors, “Cirice” feels almost doomy.

Favorite Tracks: He Is, Absolution

[Here’s Ghost playing “He Is” with the grandpas guitars.]

 

10. Sunn O))) – Kannon

Sunn O))) near the end of the year released their first full-length album (not with Ulver) since 2009’s Monoliths and Dimensions (which is absolutely, stupidly, dumbfoundingly awesome). Clocking in at barely over a half hour, Kannon is over a whole lot faster than you would hope (if you’re me), but that’s literally my only complaint about it. Here’s to Attila doing more crazy things with his throat!

H’s Favorite Track: Kannon, Pt. 3

 

9. Baroness – Purple

I was stupidly happy to hear that Baroness would have a new album out; after their terrible bus crash in 2012, I would not have been surprised if they never put out another album. Purple is a return to a heavier sound, and it simultaneously incorporates a lot of new sounds and styles, like in “Shock Me” and “If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain).” J thinks that 2012’s Yellow & Green may prove to be a transitional album if the band continues in this vein, and it will be interesting to see where Baroness goes from here.

Favorite Tracks: Shock Me, Kerosene

 

8. Melechesh – Enki

Melechesh is one of those bands that I think is really cool and innovative and doesn’t get nearly enough attention. 2010’s The Epigenesis was when they got the production budget to really hit their peak, and I wasn’t sure that they would be able to top it, but Enki definitely does. It’s tight, fast, full of fun shifting drum patterns and Eastern-influenced riffing and instrumentation. Now if we can just get them to tour here again… or headline…

Favorite Tracks: Tempest Temper Enlil Enraged, Doorways to Irkala

[And this is just track one.]

 

8. Shape of Despair – Monotony Fields

I was also very excited to hear that Shape of Despair had a new album coming out. Angels of Distress is one of the most upsetting albums I know- it’s beautiful, but it really is distressing. Monotony Fields (there’s one that came out between them that I didn’t know about! I will have to get on that) is another treatise in funeral doom the way it should be done- it’s bleak and slow-moving with some awesome keyboard parts. It’s also got some surprising turns- “Descending Inner Light” is almost joyful. For funeral doom. Which is really kind of the opposite of joyful. Huh.

Favorite Tracks: The Distant Dreams of Life, In Longing

[Here’s another track, because there are entirely too many high points on this album]

 

6. Saturnalia Temple – To The Other

Speaking of doom- Saturnalia Temple’s To The Other really is like gazing into the Void. Creepy, heavy, and just plain downright daunting (smothering?), this album reminds me of all of the ugliness and sonic twistedness of something like Teitanblood, but slower. Much. Much. Slower. It’s sort of like being slapped with a sledgehammer. But in a good way.

Favorite Tracks: ZazelSorath, To the Other

[Enjoy your nightmares.]

 

5. Shining – IX: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends

Shining released their ninth full-length album last year, called Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends. This new album features an introductory track that is entirely fugue-like classical riffing, and later employs the use of a sitar. Say what you will about their stage antics and the general notoriety of vocalist Niklas Kvarforth, Shining remains, in my opinion, one of the most innovative black metal bands currently out there.

Favorite Tracks: Den påtvingade tvåsamheten, Besök från i(ho)nom

 

4. Mgła – Exercises in Futility

Mgła also returned with an offering every bit as good as everyone expected it to be. While I am still very partial to With Hearts Towards None, Exercises in Futility proves that Mgła is not slacking and is easily one of the best black metal releases of last year, even if it doesn’t really break any new ground. Blending old school style with third-wave melody, Mgła’s albums are consistently solid and enjoyable.

Favorite Tracks: IV, VI

 

3. Marduk – Frontschwein

2015 also saw the return of Marduk, and specifically the return of Marduk playing war music. Not to say that their past several albums haven’t been absolutely fantastic in their focus on Biblical/apocalyptic imagery, but let’s face it, war is kind of what they’re known for. Frontschwein does not disappoint, bringing in some of the best reviews that Marduk has seen in years and proving that black metal’s war machine hasn’t sacrificed any of their brutality.

Favorite Tracks: Nebelwerfer, 503

[Yes. That’s a tambourine.]

 

2. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud

This is the weird one on the list. I have never listened to Amorphis before last year. At all. Basically, Shane just played it a lot at the record store and it really grew on me. While not typically the sort of thing that I listen to with any amount of frequency, Amorphis’ Under the Red Cloud is, I think, easily one of my favorite albums of 2015.

Favorite Tracks: Death of a King, Tree of Ages

[Again. There isn’t a bad song on this one either.]

 

1. Clandestine Blaze – New Golgotha Rising

My number one album of 2015 is actually a black metal album this year. If you’re not familiar with Clandestine Blaze, you should be, and if those vocals sound familiar… well, that would probably be because Deathspell Omega also channels their works through Mikko Aspa’s vocal chords. Only here he does everything. New Golgotha Rising is, on the surface, a relatively straightforward raw black metal album, but the more I listen to it, the more I find that it shifts around beneath the surface, like some kind of parasite in a sci-fi horror film. All of Clandestine Blaze’s catalog is seriously good stuff, but this new one is one of my favorites.

Favorite Tracks: (All of it, ya goofs, but if I have to pick,) Evocation Under Starlit Sky, Passage to New Creed

[I wanted to post this track because it does a good job of showing off that slippery riffage that Clandestine Blaze does so well.]

So there is a list of stuff I liked last year. Because dudes, I already had eleven. Which is why Enforcer isn’t on there along with other notable exceptions, and there’s still stuff I need to catch up on (Arcturus). The back catalog on the stuff I need to catch up on is huge. But, here is the stuff I was jamming a bunch last year for you to peruse while I try to stay on top of this year (new Rotting Christ is incredible, and Behexen and Inquisition’s new stuff is sounding really, really good).

Until next time…

-H

 

 

Songs for the End Times

Posted in black metal, musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

Apparently the world is going to end on Friday, as Dec. 21, 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar. I have my doubts, as the end of the calendar was always on Dec. 21st in pre-Christian religions, seeing as that’s the Solstice and the 22nd marks the start of longer days and the end of winter. However, there’s no way to really know until Friday, I suppose, so I figured I’d throw together a soundtrack for the end. I tried to pick songs that addressed the end times in a number of ways, whether that be through human means or cosmic, and from a multitude of mythologies.

1. Rebirth of the Nemesis- Melechesh

So if you’re a fan of Babylonian myth, you’re probably familiar with Tiamat. Tiamat is a sea serpent goddess who created the world but then decided she had rather eat it. The god Marduk tore her to bits, but legend has it that she’s really only sleeping, and will rise from the depths with Chaos on her wings. However, Melechesh advises not to fear the dragon; after all, she’s mother too (even if she likes to eat her young).

2. Pure Fucking Armageddon- Mayhem

Ok. So this one is pretty straightforward.

3. Stellarvore- Watain

“No star shall shine tonight; no star, no matter how bright.” The Black Dragon also makes an appearance in anti-cosmic Satanism “Stellarvore,” or “star-eater,” is a reference to what will happen to time and space after the Lady Dragon wakes up from her nap.

4. Anathema Maranatha- Funeral Mist

A quick Google search tells me that “anathema” means accursed, and “maranatha” means the Lord is coming. These words appear only in one of Saint Paul’s letters, and may be intended as separate sentiments even though they appear next to each other. However, it can also be understood as that those accursed are to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Anyone who is anathema, or cursed, will suffer the wrath of the Lord on the Day of Judgement.

5. …And the Great Cold Death of the Earth- Agalloch

I thought I would include something environmental on here as well, since the end of the world could very well come around as a result of human destruction of the natural world. Although this song has a myriad of meanings, the line “we are the wounds and the great cold death of the earth” leaves little to be parced.

6. World Funeral- Marduk

Another way in which humans could be responsible for our own destruction is, of course, by blowing ourselves up. Although this song is more along the lines of the personification of war (Four Horsemen, anyone?), it fits in well with the theme of complete annihilation.

7. Maha Kali- Dissection

In Hindu myth, Kali is the consort of Shiva, the destroyer. She has embodied just about everything from loving mother goddess to bloodthirsty destroyer. In the context in which Dissection references her she is the latter, but not in a completely negative way. Dissection associates her with Mahapralaya, or the destruction of the untrue “reality” of our everyday lives that keeps us from achieving our true nature.

8. Hetoïmasia- Deathspell Omega

Another Biblical reference, hetoïmasia is a reference to the prepared throne. In Christian mythology, the throne is intended for Christ, who will sit upon it at the second coming. Clearly this is not how Deathspell Omega intends it, but the sentiment is the same- a throne to be prepared for a diety hitherto absent.

9. Blood Fire Death- Bathory

Of all the end of the world scenarios, charging into battle alongside Odin and Thor is probably one of the more fun ones. Like in the second coming, all false souls shall be slaughtered. Interestingly, Quorthon also presents this scenario as a sort of deliverance for the oppressed. It’s almost like the prophecies in Revelations that promised freedom from oppression for Christians; maybe since Christians certainly aren’t the ones being oppressed anymore, Quorthon is offering some of the same solace for those who still revere the old gods.

10. Astral Path to the Supreme Majesties- Inquisition

The Void. It’s what’s left when the Black Dragon devours everything else, the “abrasive swirling murk,” Chaos. But Chaos on a cosmic scale, the destruction of the entire universe. What will happen, then, a few trillion years from now, when the known universe collapses in on itself and ceases to be. Allowing then, of course, for new universes to form. And that’s about as hopeful as it’s gonna get.

***

So what do you think? Is the world going to end Friday? Will Hagalaz have to narrow down her favorite black metal albums of the year after all when the day dawns bright and sunny on December 22? Or will we all be devoured by the Dark Mother and the cosmos descend into Chaos? And what song/s do you find fitting for the end of the world?

(And don’t forget that keyboard cat is the last thing any of us will see before we die).

Until next time?

-Hagalaz

Concert: Septicflesh/Krisiun/Melechesh/Ex Deo/Inquisition (10/19, St. Paul, MN, Station 4)

Posted in black metal, concerts, death metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by blackmetallurgy

So Friday was the amazing Conquerors of the World Tour, which I saw in St. Paul. This was a strange show for me, because the headliner (Septicflesh) was not what I was really excited for. I was most stoked (as I’m sure you can tell from my madness on here in the past week or so) for Melechesh and Inquisition. All the rest was dessert as far as I’m concerned, however, the entire show was completely amazing with everyone at the top of their game.

Inquisition started us off with a short (25 minutes) but flawless set. Wow. I had started to think that I might could forgive Dark Funeral for depriving me from seeing them in the spring, but I’ve changed my mind. I would like to see that again many, many more times. The very notion that two people can create such a solid sound is amazing to me. The drums fill in the small places where the guitar can’t, and the result is seamless. Dagon’s vocals are also really cool live, as he’ll manipulate where he is standing sometimes to achieve different vocal affects. He also is very animated in his stage presence and moves around a lot. Inquisition is very solid in the show that they bring to the stage, and the United States and Canada are lucky to finally get to see them on a full North American tour. What an amazing experience. It was perfect.

[They played this one]

[This is from earlier this year, but still. Be amazed. That’s two guys up there.]

Next up was Ex Deo, whom I watched from the back of the venue with my friend Carlos. I am not a fan of Ex Deo, really. I listened to snippets of their new album (about Caligula, which is awesome), and they are solid, but are a little too safe for my personal tastes. However, their live performance was really cool. They had Roman standards on stage and armor on (golden eagles everywhere). At one point the vocalist had a whip that he cracked onstage, and he would do hand gestures associated with the Roman emperors (the thumbs down thing from Gladiator, for instance) as well. There was a lot of spectacle, and their set was really fun to watch. The music is a lot more energetic and fun live as well, I think, and so even if you are mildly disinterested in Ex Deo being on the bill like I was, I highly recommend that you watch their set. Mightily entertaining.

[A new video from Ex Deo, which, in a way, depicts why they are not for me. Too overdone, I think]

[It’s much better live]

After Ex Deo’s set was the mighty Melechesh. As I was doing a write up on them earlier this week I’ve been listening to them a lot lately, and it occurred to me the other day that I was really in for a treat to get to see these guys live. I was not disappointed. Melechesh’s songs are so damn catchy it’s impossible to not thrash around to them. I don’t think I stopped moving throughout their entire set. They burned some incense on stage, which I am always a fan of. At one point, Ashmedi used a drum stick across the guitar strings to play the intro to “Triangular Tattvic Fire.” The guy I stood next to who had seen Melechesh a couple of times before said that he has done this before, although apparently this was the first time that he had done so on this particular tour. So that may be something for you all further down the dates to look forward to. I have no idea how he did it, but it was awesome. The thrown drumstick was caught by the aforementioned guy. Carlos thinks that Melechesh’s set was the best of the night, and I am inclined to agree (although damn, was Inquisition great as well).

[I just love this song]

[Again, this isn’t too recent, but at least it’s a good quality vid]

Krisiun was up next, and it became very clear very quickly that they were the crowd favorite. A pretty good pit got started during Krisiun’s set, and I think the band was enjoying it as much as the crowd was. I have to admit that my acquaintance with Krisiun is a fairly new one, so I don’t know a lot about them, but I do know that they played my favorite kind of death metal. Really impressive shredding and a phenomenal interaction with the crowd. It was during Krisiun’s set that I picked up all the bruises that I have today; at one point a guy who was having quite a lot of fun being rowdy slammed into some people to the right of me, which knocked my ribs right into the rail. It hurt, but no concert experience is complete without battle scars. Krisiun played a brutal and energetic set, and the crowd loved it.

[Brutal]

[Crowds love Krisiun. They are great performers]

Finally, Septicflesh took the stage. Several people up front with me got really excited (myself included) by the fact that Spiros Antoniou’s mic stand had a Cthulhu head on it. They also had two banners which looked like H.R. Giger artwork, although I can’t be sure of that. Septicflesh’s set was very solid; I don’t really know all that much about them, but their incorporation of the pre-recorded choral and orchestral parts along with the live music was very well done. Antoniou slung his bass around like it weighed nothing at all, and at times he lifted it up without the strap and played it from up near his chest. Also, he made hand gestures at times along with the music, his hands trembling from how tensed they were. It was a very emotional performance, and I am sorry to say that I felt that I didn’t do it justice. I was in the front row, but after several hours of standing in shoes with no arch support on the metal things in front of the rail at Station 4, I was completely exhausted and my feet and back were killing me. If I hadn’t felt so rotten I would have tried to engage a lot more- a lot of people apparently were there for the earlier bands like I was, but unfortunately chose to skip the headliners. Which is totally lame; Septicflesh played a great set, and I wish more people had stuck around for it.

[Not typically my thing, but good stuff nonetheless]

[They recreate the effects from the studio recordings really well live. Septicflesh’s set was seamless]

I had set aside some money to spend at the merch tables, of course, and I ended up with a rad Inquisition shirt. I absolutely love this album art; it is one of my absolute favorites ever (rib tattoo! Someday, perhaps).

Inquisition shirt (front)

And the back.

The back is pretty rad too. I didn’t realize this was on the back when I bought it, but I’m certainly not disappointed.

I also went home with Inquisition’s newest album, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm, which sports the same artwork as my shirt. Now I finally own my own Inquisition album! Yay.

My Inquisition merch pile also includes a patch for my battle jacket. I’m glad there were Inquisition patches available; I wanted a Melechesh patch too but there weren’t any. Guess I’ll have to track one down on the internet. This matches my color scheme and everything!

So happy to have something else to put on my battle jacket. I miss working on it.

I also bought myself an Abruptum pin for the jacket. I’ve been looking for something Abruptum to put on my jacket (I have a Marduk patch and a Funeral Mist one, I might as well collect them all!), but all the patches I have found are very obviously bootlegs, and poorly made ones as well. But now I have a pin, and it’s really nice and looks awesome.

Shiny.

Later in the evening I got to meet the members of Melechesh and Inquisition, who are all really, really nice people. It’s always good to see my friend Carlos, too, who sells merch for Marduk when they are here (and did so for Inquisition and Krisiun this time). Apparently Inquisition’s picking up more merch in Seattle tonight, so there’s hope yet for those of you who are planning to see them and want an awesome shirt like mine.

All in all it was a great evening, and all the bands played amazing sets. Even the bands that are not what I’d typically listen to I was impressed with; I have seen negative reviews of Ex Deo on this tour, however, I felt that in St. Paul they were very good. Looks like there are only a handful of days left on this tour, so catch it if you can. It’s a great one.

-Hagalaz

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