Melechesh

Djinn

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Further splintering the sub-subgenres of metal, Melechesh, hailing from Israel, declared itself the exclusive creators of "Mesopotamian black metal" at its inception in the mid-'90s. Roll your eyes if you must, but second album Djinn is quite stunning and ambitious, being the band's first collaboration with drummer Proscriptor (also of lunatic Texans Absu), who not only cemented Melechesh's sound with his insanely frantic and precise percussion battery, but also lent the band conceptual focus. Like Absu, Melechesh gallops through the ether between black, death, and thrash metal, crafting impressive, tastefully rendered epics chock-full of superb riffs, Middle Eastern melodies, and vocal exchanges varying from a throaty midrange screech to chanting. Bandleader/guitarist/vocalist Ashmedi guides the group through ornate, epic arrangements built around odd and memorable melodic themes, the best example being "Dragon's Legacy," which smartly builds tension with a lush interlude of Middle Eastern buzuq, synth washes, and subtle percussion before unleashing a stellar, speedy thrash blitzkrieg. Album closer "The Siege of Iachish" is more anthemic and grandiose, a concise fist-pumper in comparison to lengthy and impressive epics "Rub the Lantern" and "A Summoning of Ifrit and Genii." Imagine North Carolina's resident Egyptologists Nile minus the grindcore and crossed with Morbid Angel's Sumerian summonings, and you're in Melechesh's ballpark, Djinn reeking of authenticity and conviction as it tackles occult mythology themes without relying on the simple-minded blasphemies paraded by many other bands in the genre. Fans of underground metal should not let this superb, underappreciated release slip by.

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