It’s something of an understatement so say that this album has been highly anticipated – by me and a growing band of Melechesh acolytes. No band to my knowledge has quite managed to engineer the combination of eastern scales with extreme metal with both elements playing such an equal part. Ok there are many great bands steeped in sounds of the orient (like Scarab, Narjahanam, AlNamrood and, yes, I accept, many others with more than a smattering like Nile, Rotting Christ, Septicflesh and Behemoth to name but a few). But in terms of embracing the opportunity with such a wanton lack of restraint and while still managing to still sound so undeniably credible and hard as hell, there is only one. Since Ashmedi and crew last put out an album, word has been spreading yet further about the sublime, coiling union that this band has created and which very clearly had an awful lot more mileage. The essence of the sound is so towering in pentatonic might that, like standing in the presence of the gods and alien beings which he evokes, it’s difficult not to feel the heady rush of power being released in those massive chords and surges in melodic altitude. I can’t imagine tiring of the likes of ‘Genies, Sorcerers and Mesopotamian Nights,’ ‘Triangular Tattvic Fire,’ and ‘The Epigenesis’. And now the world is primed for Melechesh to cast its latest spell. So where does Enki sit compared to the previous five albums? Does it measure up to almost five years of waiting and imagining what monster this man could produce? Oh ye of little faith….
My best guess was that this was going to be more over the top than previous efforts – a celebration of sky scraping riffs, which seemed to be where things were heading last time round. In part I was right. This is Melechesh’s slickest album to date, more direct and with the alchemical essence of Melechesh distilled even further. If it serves its purpose, Enki will leave you gasping for breath after the 62 minutes of gale force delivery, eastern atmospherics and rousing chants come to an end. It is less progressive than it could have been – certainly less so than The Epigenesis and less quirky than the invincible Sphynx, which was the point at which Melechesh really began to shine with all its individuality and back-beat drum patterns. But Enki folds in some of the musical intrigues from Sphynx, prog tendencies of The Epigenesis with the blackened fire of Emissaries. Yes, this is probably the least subtle of all the Melechesh albums to date as Ashmedi brings his full firepower to bear and it’s wonderful to behold. Enki is a rush of adrenaline and, while there are layers of multiple hooks laden in those song structures, its subtlety is that of a finely carved statue of ancient marble craftsmanship flying towards your face and on which you can just make out the exquisite and intoxicating detail for a split-second of eternity just before the object hits you between the eyes.
Of course, the indelible blueprint is still there with Ashmedi applying his magic formula with the steady hand of the thaumaturge dripping the magic formula into his perfect batch of DNA. The end result is an album that represents a step change in trajectory for Melechesh. A recording that will help this band seize the opportunity it has been building on for the last two decades and provide the opportunity to leapfrog into the front ranks of the extreme metal scene. There is no pissing about this time. Each and every track is delivered with uncompromising energy while shimmering in the vibrant melody of the east. Melechesh frontman Ashmedi – who could win a competition for ‘Nicest Chap in Metal’ from what I’ve seen – may lack the headstrong and controversy-baiting attitude of someone like Behemoth’s Nergal and the easy to digest offer of bands like Amon Amarth with all their Norse simplicity and its global marketing appeal. But I see this band as easily in that league of modern day legendary and stage-headlining names. Enki will allow Melechesh enough in the cannon to play for 90 minutes on any platform with a whirlwind assault on the audience that would not cease from start to finish. Tracks like full-throttle opener Temper Tempest Enlil Enraged (which could have easily been taken directly from either The Epigenesis or Emissaries) are mixed in with slower and mid-paced tracks like Multiple Truths and Enki: Divine Nature Awoken to provide more than enough ammunition. And that’s before I’ve even mentioned spine tingling final track and others like Metatron and Man with that sweet kick in its scorpion-like tail. The trick with a band like Melechesh is, of course, not to let your appreciation for previous albums affect your tolerance for the new stuff. Ashmedi has delivered here exactly what was needed. This album is a giant and I look forward to seeing it aired on stages big enough to cope with the monster he has spawned.
(9/10 Reverend Darkstanley)