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Melechesh: Towards Babylon

A band forged in conflict, both external and internal, Jerusalem exiles Melechesh look set to become the next underground band to resonate on a far wider level.

I f the past few years in the underground have taught us anything, it’s that ambition doesn’t have to lead to compromise, and that it’s the bands who can tool up while remaining beacons for a core set of principles who stand the test of time. Electric Wizard’s enormously popular misanthropic doom and Behemoth – who defeated all comers last year with an uncompromising, ferocious black metal record that opens with the line ‘I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake’ – may only be two examples, but the history of metal, from Black Sabbath through Pantera and Slipknot up to Nergal and co, follows the same pattern: stick to your guns if you want to meet your full potential.

Melechesh may not have done it deliberately, but they have done just that. The four-piece have – much like both Watain and Behemoth – a musical template that is now well-constructed, and includes accessible melody inherent in that. What even experienced observers did not expect was that the follow-up to 2010’s The Epigenesis, the record that could finally bring them the broad attention their massive riffs and infectious Middle Eastern-sounding black metal has long deserved, would be so much more aggressive. 

Enki, the band’s sixth full-length, is completely comprehensible to even outright black metal beginners. It is driven by sizeable grooves, epic atmosphere, big vocal hooks amidst the shrieks, and riffs you can hum after one listen. It’s also a brutish bastard of a record that sounds capable of searing flesh from bone. 

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