Local Wire


Melechesh's geography — which involves being a thrash/black-metal band from Israel comprising Armenian, Assyrian, Dutch, and Ukrainian musicians who've relocated to Europe — makes for an interesting story, but it becomes doubly curious when you consider that the band's material fixates on ancient Mesopotamia. These are no Sumerian dilettantes, either: With album number four, Emissaries, Melechesh has reached the apex of a creative vision that's part Mesopotamian history, part Near Eastern musicology — but mostly just awe-inspiring. Face-peeling blast beats aside, Emissaries' opener, "Rebirth of the Nemesis," is more Arabian folk than thrash-metal, and in the similarly droning melodies of "Ladders to Sumeria," the two-act "Deluge of Delusional Dreams," and the Sumerian-adapted cover of the Tea Party's "Gyroscope," Melechesh proves it can write albums that are both catchy and brutal. That's not saying fans of 2003's harsher Sphynx won't worship Emissaries: Despite having to fill the big shoes of old skinsman Proscriptor McGovern (Absu), new drummer Xul is the meter-shifting, velocity-pushing detonator that makes the new material explode. Sadly, where world domination is concerned, he and his bandmates face hurdles bigger than lineup shifts: They're venerating the cradle of civilization as the West is overtaking it.