MELECHESH - ISRAEL/THE NETHERLANDS

As Jerusalem Burns...Al'Intisar - 1996 - Breath Of Night
Djinn - 2001 - Osmose
Sphynx - 2003 - Osmose
Emissaries - 2006 - Osmose
The Epigenesis - 2010 - Nuclear Blast
Enki - 2015 - Nuclear Blast


  
 
Members

S= MELECHESH ASHMEDI
G= MELECHESH ASHMEDI
B= MELECHESH ASHMEDI
D=
K= MELECHESH ASHMEDI



History

Melechesh is a death/black metal band that originated in Israel in 1993 and subsequently removed itself to The Netherlands. The band bills itself as Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian inspired and notes that there are no Israeli nationals within the ranks. Ashmedi himself is Armenian. When the band moved to Europe from Israel Proscriptor from Absu replaced drummer Lord Curse. The band signed with Osmose Production of France in 2000. Dutch drummer Xul replaced Proscriptor in 2005. As Jerusalem Burns was the name of a band demo in 1995. Andy LaRocque at Los Angered Studio in Gothenburg produced Sphynx. The band was on Nuclear Blast in time for The Epigenesis. The 11-song album was recorded at the newly built Babajim Studio in Istanbul, Turkey. When being interviewed by Metallian for the release of Emissaries Ashmedi made several references to Israeli band Arallu, which upon reading he asked to be removed from the print version. When rebuffed, in an e-mailed statement to Metallian and his publicist Adrian’ The Energizer’ he announced the halting of all promotional activities including interviews.

Melechesh released three ‘digital’ tracks collectively called Mystics Of The Pillar II on April 27th, 2012 through Nuclear Blast Records. Melechesh was on a North American tour in 2013 with support from Vreid, Lightning Swords Of Death and Reign Of Lies. Ralph Santolla (Death, Obituary and Deicide) was the second-guitarist for Melechesh.

Melechesh would release a new album, called Enki, on February 10th, 2015 through Nuclear Blast. It is the follow-up to 2010's The Epigenesis. Ashmedi, singer for the act, was arrested in late 2015 for assault in a bar fight in his home city of Qods. The man was claiming self-defense. The band would nonetheless play a show in Jerusalem despite the BDS movement, which was the global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS ) against Israel until it complies with international laws.

Melechesh means ‘King Of Fire’ in Hebrew.

Reviews

MELECHESH - SPHYNX - OSMOSE
Sphynx rules the land! Dubbed Mesopotamian Metal, Melechesh's third album, the follow up to As Jerusalem Burns...Al'Intisar of 1997 and Djinn of 2001, is a fantastic album that manages to get its point across without leaving deserts metallic or abandoning its drenched roots. Quite simply, with an album named Sphynx and musings of Near Eastern melody and Mesopotamian patterns, one would be forgiven for expecting a banal concoction of tabla, tambourine and oud mixed into metal. Instead Melechesh sticks steadfastly to a regimen of speed metal and leaves the Mesopotamia to the general musical patterns and the lyric sheet. Certainly Annunaki's Golden Thrones has an Arabic flavour reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, The Arrival Ritual is an instrumental featuring ethnic instrumentation and the general template here incorporates much of that kind of melody, but the Israeli-born band (apparently no band member is an Israeli though) sticks to delivering quality metal all the way. In fact, the closest comparison to Melechesh is Canada's Sacrifice. Anyone who has heard Sacrifice's Soldiers Of Misfortune and songs like Lost through Time or A Storm In The Silence understands the direct comparison. Vocally too singer Ashmedi sounds every bit as wicked as Sacrifice's Rob Urbinati - always a compliment.
Sphynx features both mid-paced and fast parts which are nevertheless always jam packed with effective and real riffs. The production courtesy of Andy LaRocque is both dirty and clear, while the cover art by Ron Woodall of Industrial Light And Magic speaks to the band's themes. Furthermore, titles like Of Mercury And Mercury, Secrets Of Sumerian Sphynxology, Incendium Between Mirage And Time and Purifier Of The Stars are both exciting and intriguing. Mesopotamian metal is a gimmick; wickedly powerful music and vocals are not. - Ali "The Metallian"

MELECHESH - EMISSARIES - OSMOSE  
Melechesh's biggest gift to the metal soundscape is not its music, but proving that heavy metal is wide, flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate variety, innovation and experimentation without having to recruit wimpy drivel like harps, opera singers, bazookas, flutes and so on. Melechesh executes an extreme melee of harsh vocals, whirlwind speeds, demonic lyrics and technical arrangements and album after album mocks those of smaller minds and feeble opinion, which paint delusions of heavy metal as a cruise in a dead-end.
Emissaries, the band's fourth full-length, is another journey to kingdoms past set to sounds updated for the metal future. High velocity passages of intricate quality, fiendish chants, Arabic drum patterns and Middle Eastern medleys sing in the band's speed metal that is further dotted with thrashy vigour. Even the presence of an adaptation of Tea Party's Gyroscope fails to present a barrier to enjoyment or the power amassed here. Rebirth Of The Nemesis is the perfect opening messenger to Emissaries. The chants add to the album's mysticism. Ladders To Sumeria is as reminiscent of vintage Rainbow as much as it is of the harshest speed metal ever to sweep the land. The song's vocals scratch the hell out of the listener. Deluge Of Delusional Dreams is more than just a premeditated alliteration and could have been an incredible iron instrumental. The track weaves more times than a Persian bazaar. Touching The Spheres Of The Sephiroth is extreme, yet the mad-dash drumming is the perfect accompaniment to the exotic patterns. Double Helixed Sceptre is augmented with magical words and sounds like a vintage thrash metal cut. Past the instrumental, Leper Jerusalem begins with a Bathory riff before settling into the more familiar Melechesh detonation. Emissaries And The Mysterium Magnum is weaker and mostly mid-paced and the album ends with the unannounced instrumental cut Extemporized Ophtalmic Releases, which the band's Ashmedi declares an inspired jam session.
Emissaries is the perfect ambassador to Sumerian and Mesopotamian mythology, the shepherd of modern metal into new avenues and a fist in the face of apologists for weakness and despair. - Ali "The Metallian"




Interviews

Melechesh has been called many things, described in many ways and even linked to different countries over the years by the fans and the media, but let it be known that founder, singer, guitarist and bassist Ashemdi disagrees with most of the attributions to the point of indignation. On the eve of the release of the band's latest album, entitled Emissaries, on Osmose Productions/The End Records the man in charge of the Assyrian/Sumerian metal band contacts Ali "The Metallian" in order to set the record straight and explicate the many intricacies of the music, lyrics and the symbolism. - 19.12.2006

METALLIAN: Ashmedi, It is good to chat with you. It has been a few years and I know you are eager to clarify several misconceptions.
ASHMEDI: Yes, we have been doing many interviews here in Europe and also in New York City and I can tell you that the reaction has been great from what I have seen so far. Many people still call us Israeli, but no one in the band is Israeli ironically. There are no Israeli or Jewish people in the band. Not that it matters, but it is coincidental just like there are no Americans in America. My family is Armenian and Assyrian. I was born in Jerusalem. Israel is a new country and my family moved there not long ago.
We are called an Israeli band despite not having Israeli nationality. We say this, but we don't know how to say it in a subtle way because people always put words in our mouths. We can't say anything. We have to celebrate ignorance and stay quiet sometimes. If we say the truth”¦ you know humans, they go 'baaaa' like sheep in the streets. I gave up on people. This time the record company tried to correct people. There was a press release, but still some of the media tried to edit it and added their own "Israel's Melechesh" or "The Israeli band Melechesh"! There are no Israelis and there never were. We have been in Holland for eight years. I wasn't an Israeli citizen even before I became Dutch. Although they even call us "Israel's Melechesh" in Holland. People panic at the first sign of losing their road signs. People need attributes. You will always get accurate information if you go to the source. Word-of-mouth is very good and is the strongest source for metal, but sometimes it leads to misinterpretation. I have heard many strange stories about myself.

METALLIAN: It is probably contributing to your record sales.
ASHMEDI: Maybe, I don't know. Word-of-mouth is great and is the ultimate tool. It keeps metal alive, but there are two main misconceptions about Melechesh that are also celebrations of ignorance - especially by the enlightened mighty ones! One is that we are Israeli. We are a band that makes music! The other is that we have Egyptian themes in our songs, which as of today I have not noticed on our albums. I don't know on which bootleg people find Egyptian themes and lyrics.

METALLIAN: The Assyrian Empire covered Egypt at one point.
ASHMEDI: Yeah! It doesn't mean anything. We are signing about the Mesopotamian/Assyrian mythology and not the Egyptian one. It doesn't matter who covered what. You can sing about the Celtic and then someone says 'well, 60 years ago the British ruled Africa, therefore putting tribal African music on your album is making it a Celtic release.' It doesn't mean anything because it does not represent our themes. The Assyrian empire did indeed cover north of Egypt at one point, but that was through conquest. It didn't change anything regarding the Assyrian mythology and especially about anything we sing about. We don't just recite mythological concepts. We have our own twists and theories about the origins of mankind. We introduce the actual mythology, but we add our own twists and conclusions. Some songs have double-meanings. The whole idea of the origin of mankind, not in the sense of biological organisms but in the sense of civilizations and culture, is what we elaborate on. Sumeria is the cradle of civilization. That has some truth to it, but there was something before that which relates to the theory presented by some renegade writers, which I find interesting. Sumerian gods are said to be from another planet and I find that interesting. When you compare the Biblical stories to those theories things start to make more sense or at least it is something nice to dwell on. I have never sung about Egyptian themes and here I am justifying myself and I have been doing Melechesh since 1993.

METALLIAN: In your own words then what does it mean to be an Assyrian or Sumerian band?
ASHMEDI: We have Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian mythology, as well cabalistic and Middle Eastern occult lyrics. Many fans have heard of the Necronomicon book, and all those names certain bands have which are taken from the Mesopotamian gods, although Necronomicon is a fictional book, which is based very broadly on the concept of those deities. It is not accurate at all. Although books like that might prompt people to enquire more about Mesopotamian mythology. It is fascinating, deep and dark. I am Armenian and Assyrian and the Assyrian people still exist. People don't know that. People ask me if I am somehow linked to that civilization and I say that my family is Assyrian. There are many Assyrians in America for example. They live everywhere. It is interesting that there is a band, like us, that sings about these things and is directly linked to it, but it doesn't mean that no one else can. We do it, but we actually invented a sound to it. Not just the lyrics, but also our whole musical approach revolved around the same concept. The lyrics, music and image is revolving and being finessed around the theme year after year. By listening and talking to the CD people will understand what I am trying to say and they do, which is a good thing. Let's say it is a real fantasy, not a made-up fantasy.

METALLIAN: You mentioned inventing a sound, but would you not concede that many of the melodies and rhythms in your music could be heard, albeit not with so much extremeness of course, in other bands' output. Rainbow, for instance, had many similar melodies in its music 30 years ago.
ASHMEDI: OK, well, that is a very legitimate question and actually I have a clear and straightforward answer that will shut the case. One, no band used Arabic drums in extreme metal before us. While hard rock bands use the 4/4 sound, we use Mediterranean drum patterns not as parts; not as interludes, not as bridges; not as samples, but as the actual drumming and as a percussive instrument all the way. Two, Rainbow used a Classical Western scale that resembles Middle Eastern music. We use a similar scale and twenty others. Some of them are Turkish, some of them are Armenian and some of them are Arabic. We occasionally keep it so well-hidden because of the way we riff that is has become a strong point of the band that we do not sound gimmicky. We keep it in-between the thrash. The scales are there. We use a certain Arabic scale, for instance, cut it in half and we block the riffing. We also use the black metal and thrash metal music.

METALLIAN: Would you not agree that black metal is defined as metal with Satanic lyrics?
ASHMEDI: As for black metal being Satanic, if someone asks me if we are black metal then I answer that to some extent we are, but in what sense? In the sense of Satan from the Jeudo-Christian religion? No. That for me doesn't even exist. As a belief in dark energy or as an attraction to dark energy then yes, maybe. Thrashy black metal is what we do, but with the scales I talked about which Rainbow did not do all the time. They used one or two of the scales and without our drum patterns. The way we pick in some songs gives a very warm ethnic sound to the guitar. I am not saying we are the only band that uses Mediterranean riffing, but we are the only band that invented a Mediterranean form of black metal. We call that Mesopotamian metal. We never said we put Eastern melodies to metal. We are the first Middle Eastern sounding black metal band - as far as I know. There are other bands that dwell around the domain of Eastern music, but Eastern music is so vast that to stereotype it to one corner is unfair. There could be twenty Viking metal bands from one city with the same concept and same music and they would not be compared to each other, but there could be three or four bands playing doom, death or black metal from Middle East with different scales, different drumming and different vocals and people will compare them to each other. People need to compare bands, but I find it strange that a whole hemisphere and centuries of musical evolution are lumped together. This wouldn't happen to Norwegian black metal bands. It might be because our type of music is relatively new and people need landmarks.

METALLIAN: Would you agree that part of the problem, when bands are lumped together, is that while there might be different musical and cultural aspects, they all borrow from the same source and go to the same well?
ASHMEDI: The bands would still get lumped together even if they had different imagery, played in different genres, took different approaches and had nothing in common except the word 'east.' Do they sound the same? No! I say it for reference. Is Nile a good band? Fuck yeah, they are an excellent band, but they sound nothing like us and yet many people compare us. Then they call us Egyptian! I find it rather interesting. The credible media says it correctly, which is good. These people go to the source and ask the question. There are no bands that sound like Melechesh. Well, I do know some that are influenced by us and that is an honour.

METALLIAN: Which band would you cite as having been influenced by Melechesh?
ASHMEDI: I hear demo bands that sound like we influence them. People send me their links on MySpace and, they don't all sound exactly like us, but there are some that do. I don't know their names. There are also some bands that borrow the riffs, but of course, they don't have the arrangements or the drum patterns, but don't have the esteem to say they got it from us. Instead, they say they have been doing it for twenty years and when you ask them how old they are the answer is twenty of course! I know one band from Israel that literally rips off music from us, but that is a long story. The best way to treat them is by never mentioning their name. That aggravates them the most. They have a few albums, and now they have started to develop their own sound, but even if you look at their lyrics, the guy does not even speak English so they steal words from Melechesh songs. They use phrases like 'Genie Mesopotamia.' They also use our riffs. He is now calling his band "Pioneer of Mesopotamian barbaric metal.' Someone asked him if he knows what the word 'pioneer', means and he didn't! He just copied it from us. The guy came to our rehearsals a few times, because he sessioned for us for a few months, and right after that his riffs started to sound like ours. In a million years, he wouldn't be inventing those riffs. It is not the level of guitars he knows. I will never mention the name because that is the best torture. I would like it if more bands got into it though. It is such an honour.

METALLIAN: Which book or source would you recommend to fans who are interested in learning more about the cultural and historical topics you discuss?
ASHMEDI: First of all if you wish to read pure mythology, nothing more and nothing less, there are tons of websites you can visit. Any publication by the British Museum is both credible and simply states mythology as is. In a more spiritual realm, where you can get more facts because even the stories in the Bible are borrowed from Mesopotamian mythological tales which were carved in stone and can be carbon-dated hence discrediting the origins of the Bible. British Museum has many good books. There are many writers including the work of Zecharia Sitchin, whose work one cannot take word for word, but maintains that the Mesopotamian gods and what the bible calls the Nephilim or the fallen ones or the Anunnaki came from another planet in the solar system which has an oval orbit. It approaches earth once every 3,000 or so years. The inhabitants of that planet came to earth and colonized it. They needed some workers and came to Earth. Of course, he tries too hard and loses some credibility. I used to think like he does as a child. It is a scientific impossibility that there is no life in the Universe other than here. The human being uses only ten or fifteen percent of his brain, which is the body's number one organ. Is it because we are hypnotized? Is it because we are not supposed to know more? Is it OK to be so when no other part of the human anatomy goes to waste? Then again, we invented nuclear power and went to space with that fifteen percent. People ask me if I believe in magic and I answer that I do as an undiscovered science. Flying in an aeroplane would have been magic two hundred years ago. Did someone land in Mesopotamia and started civilization? People used to draw pictures of weird creatures with wings and weird clothes looking to the sky. Dimensional rules are beyond our comprehension, but these ideas make me interested in the occult in defence of the unknown.
Nowadays we are basically robots or sleepwalkers. We just do what is... there is a cloud over us. These issues play a role in Melechesh. We hint at these things in our lyrics.

METALLIAN: That takes me to my next question, which is in regards to the album's title. What does the title Emissaries describe?
ASHMEDI: There is a very clear meaning. Everything we do, be it titles, artwork or lyrics, has a special meaning and is not just a cool word or piece of art. Emissaries refers to ancient deities, not the ones that are known like Marduk, Nergal and Ishtar. It refers to those that have no name. They are the Anunnaki. According to the theories on which I just elaborated, the emissaries came from another planet and instilled the concept of civilization on earth. The Anunnaki, the ancient Mesopotamian deities, are the emissaries. There is also a secondary meaning, which is that maybe we are the emissaries of Mesopotamian culture and maybe we are here to bring Mesopotamian sounds to the metal scene. That is a second meaning, although it is not why we used the word.
Some of our artwork is related directly or indirectly to the song titles. We wanted something that looks like an icon. Since our last album Sphynx I have been into ancient technology. The Sphynx, for example, was a Mesopotamian sphinx was depicted as being made of iron and bronze and was turned on. It was a mixture of mythology and technology. The creature with the three heads refers to the song Double Helixed Sceptre. That is derived from a double-headed lion sceptre which is the symbol for a deity called Nergal. He is the god of the underworld in Mesopotamia. Then there is a disc behind him, which looks like a mechanical halo. That represents the solar deity Shamash. Together they represent light and darkness. The ironworks represents technology, which means that the Anunnaki came from a planet with technology. The tower is an image of the tower of Babylon, but for me it is an image of a ziggurat and hence could be any Mesopotamian temple. It is a step temple. That represents the song Ladders To Sumeria. The theory states that the top of the tower is where the aliens used to land. The mechanized circle around the tower is a mechanized gyroscope. A linguist did the writings on the gyroscope for us and it states that 'they carry torches to eliminate this earth.' That is what was written about the Anunnaki. It says that on the cover and I sing that on one of the tracks. The ideas on the cover refer to the song titles therefore. It is a very active cover. There is a lot going on there. It has a lot of value for me.

METALLIAN: Why would you include two instrumentals on the album if you have so much to say?
ASHMEDI: They say sometimes a picture if better than a thousand words. A composition is better than a million pictures because you create it according to your own way of thinking. You can draw pictures for yourself according to the way you would like to see it in your head. A musical piece will take you to places more than an image o words could. In a way you will relate to it more. The acoustic instrumental is part of the meditative dimension of Melechesh. We listen a lot to Middle Eastern music which is meant to help you reach enlightenment. We really enjoy The Scribes Of Kur. It adds another dimension. Track number eleven Extemporized Ophtalmic Release is not even supposed to be on the album and is not even on the track list. It is not a bonus or hidden track. Its title is not even a title for it. The so-called title is its description. One day towards the end of the recording session I went crazy - there was a lot of stress and pressure - and we stopped doing what we were doing and just started to jam. Everything was miked and we just did what we like to do. Then we added some guitar solos, which were unrehearsed and genuine, which reminds one of the older '70s bands, which did music for the sake of music. We just did it for enjoyment, but decided to share it.

METALLIAN: To confirm, does the instrumental appear on every version of the album?
ASHMEDI: Yes, it is on every version. It is the Melechesh guys jamming to Eastern rock and being true to themselves, but not composing. We were just jamming. It was a good experience doing it without planning. Melechesh itself is a balance of careful planning and research and spontaneity. The Ladders To Sumeria's ending has demonic chants that were felt on the spot and so we recorded it. Middle Eastern music is usually improvised. The group vocals, for example, were never planned. We just recorded three or four days before ending the sessions.

METALLIAN: Speaking of improvisation and the sessions' recording would you agree that there are certain inconsistencies in the recoding of the album. Most particularly, the snare drums seem to be mixed at different levels throughout. While they can be heard at times, at other times they are buried under the rest of the drums or the other instruments.
ASHMEDI: Emissaries was mixed twice. There is another version in existence, which will never see the light of day. The album was delayed because we went to a fancy producer who did a bad job. We then went to another studio to re-mix it. As for the snares, I have said this before, we do not want the album to be an audition with everything being tight. Some songs require one type of snare and some another. Every song has a different mix. Metallica does that, but you might not notice it because of the mastering. Naturally, when the drummer is blasting his snare hand is hitting lighter. We wanted to keep that real feeling. We didn't want to use a computer and give it a too bombastic feeling that would kill the music. It would be like a machine gun then. Different moods have different dynamics. It is a matter of taste.
In Melechesh it is important to have a talented drummer, but the drumming usually stays the same ninety percent of the time. I write the drum parts with the guitar. I come up with the drum patterns. The drummers come up with the rolls, unless the rolls are essential to the pattern in which case I come up with them. Xul is our permanent drummer, as far as I know.
You can always tell it is Melechesh no matter which album it is.

To learn more about the band or to order the band's music head to http://www.melechesh.com. Emissaries is out this month.

If you enjoyed this, read Enochian Crescent

Melechesh